Ceremony Friday to mark reconnection of historic rail line between Henderson, Boulder City

CARSON CITY, Nevada – It has been 30 years since the rail line linking Boulder City to Henderson has been operational, but that’s about to change, creating new opportunities for tourists, rail fans and outdoor recreationists.

As part of the Interstate-11 Project, the historic Nevada Southern Railway line will be reconnected at Railroad Pass. On Friday, a ceremony to mark the final leg of the connection – complete with the driving of a special spike – will take place on the new railroad bridge.

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval will be joined by officials from Boulder City, Henderson, the Nevada Department of Tourism and Cultural Affairs and Nevada Department of Transportation, who will board a train at the Nevada State Railroad Museum in Boulder City and ride the 4 ½ miles to Railroad Pass, where the ceremony will be held.

The event is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. and conclude at 1 p.m.

The railroad line was used in the 1930s to carry equipment and supplies to the Boulder Dam (now Hoover Dam) construction site. In 1985, during a widening of the Boulder Highway, the line – then at ground level – was severed at Railroad Pass. The 4 ½ miles of track that remained was isolated.

In 2002, the state of Nevada opened the Nevada State Railroad Museum, Boulder City, which operates tourist trains along the line. Its popularity has increased each year since, growing from a ridership of 2,000 in the first year to more than 40,000 by 2015 – all on a two-day schedule.

The Interstate 11 project planned for the reconnection of the railroad line with a new overpass to carry railroad traffic over the highway. Combined with bicycle and pedestrian crossings, the project opens up the potential for an innovative palette of historical, educational, cultural and recreational visitor experiences, said Peter Barton, administrator of the Nevada Division of Museums and History.

“Imagine on a Saturday morning, leaving Henderson on your bicycle, following the existing trails from Henderson to Boulder City, through the railroad museum to downtown Boulder City,” Barton said. “Once there, you enjoy dining and shopping before returning to the museum, putting your bike on the train and riding home in the comfort of the train, learning about the history of the railroad and all it enabled.”

Barton said discussions with officials from Henderson indicate a strong desire to incorporate the train ride to destinations in that city.