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Celebrate the Fourth at Nevada State Railroad Museum

CARSON CITY, Nevada – On a star-spangled Fourth of July weekend, the Nevada State Railroad Museum will be showcasing an all-star lineup of its rolling stock – and giving visitors discounted rates for unlimited train rides.

The wood-burning steam locomotives Glenbrook, left, and Inyo, will be running at the Nevada State Railroad Museum in Carson City over the Fourth of July weekend. Guy Clifton/Travel Nevada

The museum, which is generally closed on Tuesdays, will be in full operation this Tuesday, the Fourth of July. Festivities actually begin on Saturday. Hours are 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. each day.

“We’ll have all of our running gear out on the loop,” Museum Director Dan Thielen said. “We’ll have the Parade of Trains every morning.”

The Parade of Trains includes the pride of the museum’s collection – its two 1875 wood-burning steam locomotives, the Inyo and the Glenbrook; and the McKeen Motor Car. The No. 25 locomotive will be pulling passengers every day.

Visitors to the museum during the holiday weekend have the opportunity to purchase an all-inclusive wristband each day. It includes admission to the museum and unlimited train rides for the day of purchase. The price is $15 for adults, $5 for children 4 to 17 and free to children 3 and younger. Museum members can purchase a wristband for $10 each day.

The McKeen Motor Car and No. 25 will be alternating runs every day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., allowing visitors to ride both trains. Both the Inyo and the Glenbrook will be making demonstration runs each day, but do not take passengers.

Please note: the wristband is good for one day and a separate wristband must be purchased each day of the event. Normal museum admission prices and train fares are available, as well.
Contact the museum at (775) 687-6953 x224 for more information.

USS Nevada commander, crewmen tour state museums

CARSON CITY, Nevada – Sailors from the USS Nevada nuclear submarine were in Carson City on Sunday for tours of the Nevada State Museum and Nevada State Railroad Museum.

Crewmen and family members from the submarine USS Nevada take a seat in the historic McKeen Motor Car at the Nevada State Railroad Museum on Sunday, June 25, 2017. Pictured from left to right are: Chief of Boat Adrian Watkins; Renee Watkins; Missile Technician Anthony Sasnett; Craig Williams, Reno Council Navy League; CDR Gene Severtson; Stacey Severtson; Machinist Mate Alexander Lund; and Ed Legier, Reno Council Navy League. Photo provided by Craig Williams/Reno Council Navy League

The group included Commanding Officer Gene Severtsen and Chief of Boat Adrian Watkins, the ship’s senior enlisted man, as well as other crewmen and their families. The Reno Council of the Navy League sponsored the “Namesake Visit” to Nevada, something it does every two years, said Craig Williams of the Reno Council.

The Nevada State Museum is the caretaker of scores of artifacts from the battleship USS Nevada, BB-36, which distinguished itself in World War II, and memorabilia from the submarine, which is completing its 30th year in service.

The submarine itself, which is based in Bangor, Wash., also holds photos and memorabilia from the battleship.

Peter Barton, administrator of the Division of Museums and History and Myron Freedman, Nevada State Museum director, led the submariners on the tour.

“They were extremely enthusiastic to see the phenomenal silver service set from the USS Nevada battleship, along with many other USS Nevada artifacts preserved in the museum’s collection,” Freedman said. “The silver service set is one of the museum’s prized possessions, created from silver and gold from Nevada mines, and used on the ship after its commission in 1916.”

At the railroad museum, the crewmen and their families were treated to a tour by curator of history Wendell Huffman. The museum features the restored steam locomotives Glenbrook and Inyo, both built in 1875, and the McKeen Motor Car.

Both the Nevada State Museum and the Nevada State Railroad Museum are participants in the national Blue Star Museums program, a collaboration among the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, the Department of Defense, and museums across America. The program allows free admission to active-duty military members and their families from Memorial Day and Labor Day each year.

In addition to visiting the museums, the Nevada sailors and their families also toured the Tesla gigafactory being built east of Sparks and the Thunderbird Lodge at Lake Tahoe. Severtsen threw out the first pitch at the Reno Aces baseball game on Saturday.

Boulder City Railroad Museum suspends one of four daily rides

BOULDER CITY, Nevada – With hot summer temperatures gripping Southern Nevada, the Nevada State Railroad Museum Boulder City is suspending its mid-afternoon train ride.

As summer heat has taken hold in Southern nevada, the Nevada State Railroad Museum in Boulder City is suspending its final trrain ride of each day through the end of August. Photo illustration provided by Travel Nevada

“While our train is air-conditioned, the locomotives are not,” said Museum Director Randall Hees. “In the interest of crew and public safety we are suspending our 2:30 pm train from mid-June through August. We may suspend train operations completely if the temperature exceeds 115 degrees.

Unless otherwise noticed, train rides will continue to be offered at 10 a.m., 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m.

The museum’s train ride is a scenic 45-minute round trip of 7 miles, which follows a portion of the old Boulder Branch Line, built in 1931 during the construction of Hoover Dam.

The museum is located at 600 Yucca St., in Boulder City.

To check on train operations, please call our ticket office or gift shop at (702) 486-5933, or check its Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/NSRMBoulderCity/

New video promotes Nevada’s state museums

CARSON CITY, Nevada – A video promoting Nevada’s seven state museums is being shown at Department of Motor Vehicles offices around the state.

The one-minute video, produced in-house by the Department of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, includes an introduction by Gov. Brian Sandoval, made during a visit to the Nevada State Museum in Carson City in May.

“Nevada’s museums celebrate the cultural, natural and industrial resources that make Nevada so extraordinary,” Claudia Vecchio, director of the Nevada Department of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, said. “We join Governor Sandoval in inviting all who see the videos to visit Nevada’s museums and explore the state’s rich historic legacies.”

The state’s museums tell Nevada’s story from prehistory to modern day and focus on themes that set the Silver State apart, including Native American culture, railroading, mining, gaming, entertainment, and natural history.

Educational opportunities abound for everyone, from school children to historic researchers and membership at one museum allows free access to all the others.

“Nevada museums serve as the State’s heritage asset managers and storytellers, creating engaging places for civic engagement and conversations about our rich and diverse heritage and how knowledge of the past shape’s today and provides a roadmap for tomorrow,” Peter Barton, administrator for the Division of Museums and History, said. “I often say that our museums both stimulate and incubate memories – memories that truly last a lifetime. And not everything about our past is necessarily a good story but we interpret the past with authenticity and honesty, always.”

The video is running at DMV offices in Carson City, Elko, Fallon, Henderson, Las Vegas, Mesquite, Pahrump, Reno, Winnemucca and North Las Vegas.

The video can be seen at www.nevadaculture.org/museums.

Railroad museum offers weekend of ‘Steampunk ‘n’ Trains’

CARSON CITY, Nevada – Science fiction fantasy and historic reality will come together June 10-11 at the Nevada State Railroad Museum.

Father and son Eric, right, and Alex Bevans dressed the part and enjoyed a ride on the McKeen Motor Car during the first Steampunk ‘n’ Trains event at the Nevada State Railroad Museum in Carson City in 2016. This year’s event has been expanded to a full weekend, June 10-11. Photo by Rebecca Bevens provided by Nevada State Railroad Museum

Or to put it simply: Steampunk meets steam trains.

For the second consecutive year, “Steampunk ‘n’ Trains” offers a weekend of activities including train rides, food trucks, a crafts fair, fashion show and music. Participants can ride on historic Virginia & Truckee Railroad equipment, including the McKeen Motor Car and V&T No. 25 locomotive.

Museum officials didn’t know quite what to expect when the event debuted last year.

“In 2016, the museum introduced the Steampunk ‘N’ Trains event and it ended up being really popular,” said Adam Michalski, curator of education at the Nevada State Railroad Museum. “So this year, we’ve expanded it to the entire weekend to give our visitors more opportunities to enjoy it.”

Steampunk is defined as a genre of science fiction that has a historical setting and typically features steam-powered machinery rather than advanced technology. The 1999 film “The Wild Wild West,” which starred Will Smith and Kevin Kline, was an homage to Steampunk.

The Nevada State Railroad Museum is home to several steam-powered locomotives and is the only museum in existence to feature working 1875 narrow-gauge and standard gauge locomotives – the Glenbrook and Inyo, respectively.

The V&T No. 25 locomotive, which pulls passenger cars regularly at the museum, is also steam powered.

Participants are encouraged to dress in their favorite Steampunk attire and enjoy the festivities.

Wristbands for the Steampunk ‘n’ Trains event are $15 for adults 18 and older; $10 for museum members; $5 for children ages 4-17; and free for children 3 and under. They include museum admission and unlimited rides for the day. For more information contact the museum at (775) 687-6953 x224.

Historical Society presentation focuses on showgirl costumes

It’s been 28 years since “Hello Hollywood Hello” graced what was then the world’s biggest stage at what is now the Grand Sierra Resort.

Karen Low resDuring its 11-year-run at the then-MGM Grand, from 1978-1989, the production was viewed by close to 7 million people. It featured a cast of more than 100, many of them showgirls dressed in elaborate costumes.

While the show lives only in memories, videos and photographs, many of the costumes remain – and are still being used – thanks to Reno’s Karen Burns, who is the subject of this month’s “High Noon Shootout with Neal Cobb” at the Nevada Historical Society.

The event is June 15 at noon and includes a showing of Burns’ appearance on the television program “Old Tales of Nevada,” followed by a question-and-answer period with Burns.

A former dancer in the production, Burns has amassed a collection of more than 1,200 authentic costumes from the stage show. The showgirls are still a familiar sight at special events in Reno and the region.

Admission is $5 for adults; free for children 17 and younger and for Nevada Historical Society members. Attendees are encouraged to arrive early as seating is limited. For details, call 688-1190.

Full steam ahead for Railroad Museum with flood repairs completed

CARSON CITY, Nevada – The Nevada State Railroad Museum is back to full operations just in time for the Memorial Day Weekend and the busy summer season.

Construction crews this week completed removal of more than 110,000 square feet of debris and repairs to the tracks on the museum grounds that were damaged by flooding in January.

The steam locomotive No. 25, warms up on the tracks at the Nevada State Railroad Museum in Carson City on Thursday, May 18, 2017. The tracks and grounds damaged by January flooding have been repaired and the museum will resume full activities, including train rides, beginning with the Memorial Day Weekend. Guy Clifton/Travel Nevada

The steam locomotive No. 25, warms up on the tracks at the Nevada State Railroad Museum in Carson City on Thursday, May 18, 2017. The tracks and grounds damaged by January flooding have been repaired and the museum will resume full activities, including train rides, beginning with the Memorial Day Weekend. Guy Clifton/Travel Nevada

“We are in full operation and will open the annex as well,” Museum director Dan Thielen said.

Heavy rains in January led to a deluge of water onto the grounds of the railroad museum, undercut a portion of the track circling the museum grounds, left a thick layer of silt and other debris and flooded into the shop, annex and main museum building.

The property was closed to the public for two months as museum crews and volunteers cleaned the buildings. The main museum building reopened in March, but the annex and shop remained closed to the public for safety concerns until the cleanup could be completed.

Mountain States Contracting led the cleanup effort along with State Public Works and State Risk Management and many museum volunteers.

“They were able to remove all the silt, put in all new ballast, put a new crossing in and repair the track,” Thielen said. “They absolutely did a first-class job, a beautiful job.”

Peter Barton, administrator for the Division of Museums and History, said the effort to have the museum operating at full capacity for Memorial Day was a monumental one, reached through a combination of a supportive community, volunteers and agencies working together.

“The Division and the railroad museum are grateful to the community for their outpouring of support that helped propel recovery from the devastating January flooding,” Barton said. “Many state and federal agencies came together and cooperated to get the museum ready for our peak season. Thank you to everyone who helped.”

The museum plans to have the No. 25 steam locomotive pulling passenger cars. In addition, the historic Glenbrook locomotive will be rolled out and on display for the weekend.

The Warren Engine Company will be selling refreshments on the grounds for the weekend and the museum’s store will be open as well.

The Nevada State Railroad Museum is open Thursday through Monday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Admission is $6 for adults, free for children 17 and younger.

Track repair begins at Nevada State Railroad Museum

CARSON CITY, Nevada – Repairs to the flood-damaged grounds of the Nevada State Railroad Museum kicked into high gear this week with construction crews working to remove thousands of pounds of sediment, and replace ballast and tracks displaced by January floods.

Work crews remove sediment caused by flood waters in January from the tracks outside the Nevada State Railroad Museum Annex on Thursday, May 4. The museum is expecting repairs to be completed in time for the Memorial Day weekend at the end of the month. Guy Clifton/Travel Nevada

Work crews remove sediment caused by flood waters in January from the tracks outside the Nevada State Railroad Museum Annex on Thursday, May 4. The museum is expecting repairs to be completed in time for the Memorial Day weekend at the end of the month. Guy Clifton/Travel Nevada

“We’ve got two companies out there working it right now,” said Dan Thielen, museum director, “one that is removing sediment and the other one that is fixing the railroad.”

Heavy rains in January forced Carson City crews to divert water coming from Rhodes Street in an effort to prevent flooding on Carson Street, one of the city’s main north-south thoroughfares. The diversion led to a deluge of water onto the grounds of the railroad museum, damaging the track and flooding into buildings.

The property was closed to the public for two months as museum crews and volunteers cleaned the buildings. The main museum building reopened in March, but the museum’s annex and shop have remained closed to the public for safety concerns.

Thielen said the work should be completed in time for the Memorial Day weekend at the end of May and that trains will be running with passengers on the loop around the museum grounds. “We are going to run full-scale operations for Memorial Day,” he said. “We’ve been assured they can meet that deadline.”

The Nevada State Railroad Museum is open Thursday through Monday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Admission is $6 for adults, free for children 17 and younger.

Lecture tells story of Gold Hill News resurrection

CARSON CITY, Nevada – Legends on the Comstock Lode have a way of coming back to life and that’s exactly what happened in the mid-1970s when the Gold Hill News was resurrected after a 92-year slumber.

The staff of the Gold Hill News in 1975 included: (seated) Rob Maximov and Jack Feliciano; (standing, from left) Dave Moore, Leanna McNeilly, Jan Maximov, Dan Murray and Barbara Herman; and (back row, from left) David Toll, Lila and Jimmy Crandall, Darlene Hickerson, Susan and Bill Germino. Provided by David Toll

The staff of the Gold Hill News in 1975 included: (seated) Rob Maximov and Jack Feliciano; (standing, from left) Dave Moore, Leanna McNeilly, Jan Maximov, Dan Murray and Barbara Herman; and (back row, from left) David Toll, Lila and Jimmy Crandall, Darlene Hickerson, Susan and Bill Germino. Provided by David Toll

In 1974, Virginia City newsman David Toll, whose family history in Gold Hill dates back to 1867, put together a talented and energetic staff and began publishing the Gold Hill News, which quickly established itself as the paper of record in Storey County.

The original Gold Hill Daily News had published from 1863 to 1882, with Nevada Newspaper Hall of Fame journalists Alf Doten and Wells Drury reporting on daily life on the Comstock. But like many a newspaper in the boom-and-bust cycle of mining camps, the News faded with the silver boom.

Like its historic predecessor, Toll’s Gold Hill News was a bright flash in the journalistic pan of Nevada history. It’s a story he will share as part of the Frances Humphrey Lecture Series on Thursday, May 25 at the Nevada State Museum. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the program starts at 6:30.

Toll’s Gold Hill News operated from June 1974 until October 1978 and the staff took great pride in the slogans “Mark Twain Never Worked for This Newspaper!” (Twain worked at the nearby Territorial Enterprise in Virginia City) and “None Just As Good!” Printed weekly, the News was an award-winner and boasted an impressive circulation.

However, like the original Gold Hill News, financial woes set in. The News published a farewell edition on Nevada Day in 1978 with the words, “Hooray for our friends, to hell with our enemies, and we’ll see you in 92 years.”

Toll is a noted Nevada author and publisher. His books include “The Complete Nevada Traveler” and a biography of notorious Mustang Ranch owner Joe Conforte. He and his wife, Robin, operate nevadatravel.net, an online resource for visitors and travelers in the state.

The cost of the lecture is $8 for adults; free for museum members and children 17 and younger.

Writers’ Wednesdays: The Squaw Valley Olympics

CARSON CITY, Nevada – Sports historians often call the 1960 Winter Olympics held at Squaw Valley “the last great games.”

A racer competes in the giant slalom during the 1960 Olympic Winter Games in Sqiuaw Valley, Calif. Nevada Historical Society

A racer competes in the giant slalom during the 1960 Olympic Winter Games in Sqiuaw Valley, Calif. Nevada Historical Society

In an intimate, unspoiled setting, the best winter athletes from around the globe converged on the previously unheralded ski resort for 11 days. Television cameras (and Walter Cronkite) were there and Walt Disney choreographed the opening and closing ceremonies.

There was suspense and drama on and off the slopes and ice rinks. The underdog USA men’s hockey team beat a powerful Russian team in the first “Miracle on Ice.”

Just how Squaw Valley was selected to host the Olympics is a story in itself, and one notably told by author David Antonucci in his book, “Snowball’s Chance: The Story of the 1960 Olympic Winter Games.”

Antonucci will share stories from the book and his research in this month’s Writers’ Wednesday Lecture hosted by the Nevada Historical Society in Reno on Wednesday, May 10. The event includes a book signing from 5 to 5:30 p.m. and lecture starting at 5:30.

It is quite a story. The Squaw Valley Ski Resort was born from a partnership between Alex Cushing and Wayne Poulson, a Reno High grad who had helped do snow surveys in the valley in the 1930s. They formed the Squaw Valley Development Corporation, broke ground on the resort in 1948 and it opened on Thanksgiving Day in 1949.

Eventually, Cushing took over operations of the ski area, while Poulsen maintained ownership of most of the land in the valley.

1n 1954, Cushing saw a small article in his morning paper that said Reno was planning to place a bid to host the 1960 Olympic Games. He saw it as an opportunity to get publicity for Squaw Valley, which at the time had one lift and two tow ropes to accommodate skiers, by making a bid for the Games himself.

“I had no more interest in getting the Games than the man in the moon,” he later told Time magazine. “It was just a way of getting some newspaper space.”

His pursuit turned serious when the U.S. Olympic Committee selected Squaw Valley over Reno; Anchorage, Alaska; Sun Valley, Idaho; Colorado Springs-Aspen, Colo., and Lake Placid, N.Y., to be its recommendation to the International Olympic Committee.

To say it was a longshot bid would be a huge understatement, but ultimately, Squaw Valley won out over

such finalists as Innsbruck, Austria; St. Moritz, Switzerland; and Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, all of which had previously hosted Olympics.

Antonucci will discuss how the 665 athletes from 30 countries gathered to compete in 27 events, including alpine skiing, Nordic combined, cross-country skiing, biathlon, figure skating, speed skating, ice hockey and ski jumping.

Through his thorough research, he offers you-are-there accounts of all competition events and ties it to many historical photos of the games.

The Writers’ Wednesday Lecture Series is held the second Wednesday of each month. The intent of the program is to highlight writers that specifically focus on Nevada, the Great Basin or the West in general. The authors talk about the content of their books, but also share details about the creative process.

The program is $5 for adults and free for Historical Society members and children 17 and younger.