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"At The Throttle"
by Mark Bassett, Executive Director

A weekly series of columns originally published in the Ely Times 
Mark Bassett is the Executive Director of the White Pine Historical Railroad Foundation, operator of the Nevada Northern Railway Museum. He can be reached at the museum (775) 289-2085 ext. 7 or e-mail: director@nnry.com

 


Official Nevada State Locomotive 40
08 April 2009

The State of Nevada has twenty-four official state symbols. All of the symbols were designated by an official act of the legislature. The first legislative act of this type was the designation in 1953 of the single-leaf pinion as Nevada's official state tree. In 2001, three items were added to the official list: Silver State Fanfare, the state march; Orvada, the official state soil; and the Nevada State Tartan.

So what do the state symbols have to do with the Nevada Northern Railway Museum? We have a bill in the state legislature, AB 180, to designate Engine No. 40 of the Nevada Northern Railway as an official locomotive of the State of Nevada. It was sponsored by Assemblymen Pete Goicoechea, John Carpenter, and Tom Grady. It was jointly sponsored by Senators Mark Amodei, Mike McGinness, and Dean Rhoads.

Nevada Northern Locomotive 40

Locomotive 40 is half-way to becoming an official locomotive of the State of Nevada. On April 6th, AB 180 passed the Nevada State Assembly unanimously. The bill was sent to the Senate.

The text of the bill is rather simple:

WHEREAS, The Nevada Northern Railway East Ely yard complex in Ely, Nevada is designated a National Historic Landmark by the United States Secretary of the Interior; and

WHEREAS, Engine No. 40, a ten-wheeler built by Baldwin Locomotive Works in July of 1910, which operated daily between Ely and Cobre until the last regularly scheduled passenger run in July of 1941, is one of the most historically significant steam locomotives still in existence; and

WHEREAS, The Nevada Northern Railway and Engine No. 40 were integral in the development of the State of Nevada and are part of the history of the State of Nevada; now, therefore,

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEVADA, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEMBLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:

Section 1. Chapter 235 of NRS is hereby amended by adding thereto a new section to read as follows:
The steam locomotive of the Nevada Northern Railway known as Engine No. 40, built in 1910, is hereby designated as an official state locomotive of the State of Nevada.

Section 2. This act becomes effective on July 1, 2009.

 

Nevada has a rich legacy of railroading, the designation of locomotive 40 as the official state locomotive will serve as a symbol to highlight this legacy. Why give this honor to locomotive 40?

Yes, there are older locomotives still in existence in Nevada but no other locomotive represents the state as dynamically as locomotive 40. In operation until last year, locomotive 40 is now down for expected periodic repairs needed for any operable steam locomotive to stay safe and to continue as a regularly operable locomotive in the 21st century.

Since locomotive 40 was delivered to the Nevada Northern Railway in 1910, she has been in almost constant operation. Locomotive 40 is truly a lively exemplar of the real spirit of Nevada—in it for the long haul; alive and running for almost a century; once repairs are made; ready in the 21st century to champion Nevada's long-term economic and social history.

Out of all of the locomotives still in existence in Nevada, locomotive 40 is the only one that still runs on her home tracks, at a National Historic Landmark, the highest official accolade; it showcases the historic importance of this railroad in the development not only of Nevada but of the United States.

Locomotive 40 operates in the real genuine context, not separated from where she once ran. She still runs on the original rails. Pick's up passengers from the original depot. And is maintained and stored in the original enginehouse.

Locomotive 40 represents the real, workaday Nevada. She's the historic hauler of emigrants, school kids, miners, shoppers, and business people. Locomotive 40 hauled the daily mail, brought in the food, brought in everything on the store shelves of every town in eastern Nevada. She represents the lifeline of half the state and is still alive and will be running strong again! Our more than 2,000 dues paying members are committed to seeing locomotive 40 operate before her centennial.

William L. Withuhn, the Curator, History of American Transportation, Smithsonian Institution personal and professional view is: "Aesthetically, 40 is the prettiest 20th century locomotive running anywhere—handsome, light of step, with stylishly tall wheels and graceful in motion. The 40 is unique to Nevada, and thus is a uniquely Nevada icon, not duplicated elsewhere."

Locomotive 40 deserves the designation as the official locomotive of the State of Nevada. She's alive, mimicking the true spirit of Nevada's industry and real development. She might have had a set back right now, but like Nevada she will persevere. It is our goal to have locomotive 40 back in operation by her centennial in July 1910. Just like Nevada, she will keep steaming into her second century.

On April 6, 2009, the Nevada State Assembly voted unanimously to approve AB 180. It is now on its way to the Senate.

 

 

 

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