Nevada Northern Railway
National Historic Landmark      Ely, NV



"At the Throttle"

A Series of articles on the Nevada Northern Railway
By Mark Bassett, Executive Director, NNRY



New Year Planning
11 January 2003

It has been said that the only constant in life is change and the Nevada Northern Railway is living up to that statement in spades. The year started by taking Locomotive 93 and coaches Ely and Nevada to Utah for the 2002 Olympic Winter Games. Then we ended the year by traveling to the North Pole to visit with Santa Claus, Locomotive 93 was a well-traveled locomotive in 2002!

Both events were a great success. The Olympics gave Ely and the Nevada Northern worldwide exposure. The Polar Express brought people from New York, Louisiana, and Las Vegas to Ely to take the trip to the North Pole.

Kudos goes to the volunteers and staff who made all of this possible. You need to remember that water freezes at 32º and it got below that in both Salt Lake City during the Winter Games and in Ely during the Polar Express. Getting Locomotive 93 ready for a winter run takes a real team effort and many hours of hard work.

And did we haul the passengers! At the Olympics over 6,000 people rode the steam trains during the ten days of operations. Here in Ely our ridership was 7,168; this is an increase of 1,013 passengers over last year, our best year ever!

It maybe quiet now but work is going on behing the scences preparing for the 2003 season. It's the museum's goal to carry 10,000 passengers in 2003.

 

Our season this year starts May 10th and ends December 7th. Starting with June 1, we will be operating six days a week, Wednesday through Monday. Three of those days will be steam, a first for the museum. The steam days are Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Trains will be running every weekend from May 10th until November 1st. We have added monthly wine trains, and will continue the Polar Express Trains in December. Our goal is to carry 10,000 passengers in 2003.

The museum finances received a shot in the arm with both the White Pine County Commissioners and the Ely City Council implementing a 2% increase in the room tax for both the county and the city, this revenue goes to the museum. The passage of the room tax will assist in the stabilization of the museum finances. This will allow the museum to plan for the future. Of course part of this plan is to bring more people to Ely and have them spend the night. This will be a win-win situation for the community and the museum.

I need to point out that the passage of the room tax does not solve the museum’s financial challenges. I’ve estimated that we need five million dollars to arrest the decay of our buildings, track, and rolling stock. The room tax money gives us the breathing room that we need to plan for the future. Speaking of money, if you haven’t done so already I encourage you to become a dues paying member of the museum. Membership levels start at $15.

And what a future! Our Centennial is fast approaching. It starts in September 2005 and concludes in September 2006. Ideas are welcome to help put us on the map during our hundredth birthday.

Just because trains are not running now does it mean all is quiet at the museum. The push now is to get ready for 2003. T he coaches Ely and Nevada need work before the start of next season. We are planning to work on the wheels, brakes, new windows, power system, new P.A. system, new diaphragms, ditch lights, and a paint job. Locomotive 204 needs maintenance and a new paint job. If money can be found, the plan is to paint 204 as 402 in the Nevada Northern Railway paint scheme. Work will continue on Locomotive 93 and preliminary work will continue on Locomotive 40, as we work towards beginning 40 back to steam service.

A grant was written to save the McGill Depot and put the tracks back to the Depot. This will give the train a destination and save the depot. This grant has passed its first hurdle and is in contention for possible funding.

Work will continue on Coach 5, restoring an original NNRy boxcar, the steam-wrecking crane and painting the tank car in the spring. Spring will also bring the need for track maintenance and vegetation control. The last weekend in April is the volunteer training weekend; mark your calendars now!

2003 will witness the start of volunteer work weekends. In the past there was a tendency to focus on just the operations and overlook the needs of the buildings, rolling stock and track.

Another emphasis in 2003 will be training and the formalization of the training program. Details are being worked out right now and will be sent to all of the volunteers when completed.

Because our volunteers are scattered all over the country, the museum is going to become more dependent on the Internet. I encourage you to check out our web site often, http://www.nevadanorthernrailway.net. Crew schedules, museum projects, and special event details will be posted there. Also the museum has started a new special interest group on Yahoo devoted to the museum. I encourage you to join it.

It’s been a great year and next year should be even better with your help. The museum is dependent on the volunteers; frankly without their help there would be no operating museum. I invite everyone to come on down and help. Thanks.