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"At The Throttle"
by Mark Bassett, Executive Director

A weekly series of columns originally published in the Saturday edition of the Ely Times 
Mark Bassett is the Executive Director of the White Pine Historical 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

 


Museum Update
15 May 2004


 

It has been a very busy spring at the museum. I thought I would take a moment and give a brief update of the activities at the museum.

Let's start with the locomotives. Steam locomotive 93, a 2-8-0, suffered a bearing problem in March on the 4th drive axle. Jack and the shop crew jacked up the locomotive to polish the axle and the bearing. A new grease cake was installed and the axle is monitored very closely. Its temperature is taken twice on every run and I'm happy to report that there is no problem. Other then the bearing problem, there have been no significant problems with 93, though every trip finds something that needs tweaking.

Steam locomotive 40, 4-6-0, is undergoing a restoration. We have been using the Heber Crew to assist our staff. Locomotive 40 has had just about everything removed including the tubes and flues from inside the boiler. If you have ever wondered what a steam locomotive looks like on the inside now's your chance. Stop by the machine shop and take a gander.

Diesel locomotive 109, a RS-3, has been in service all winter long thanks to an engine heater that was installed last fall. And diesel locomotive 105, a RS-2, was mothballed for the winter but it is now back in service for another season.

Diesel locomotive 204, a SD-9, underwent its 92-day inspection and repairs were made to fix oil leaks. Locomotive 310, a GE 25 ton locomotive, has been serviced. It will need new batteries to be used in regular service. Batteries are $1,200. The plan is to add train air to the locomotive and use it for yard locomotive rentals and as an excursion train between the two museums once the track is opened and we have built an excursion car for it.

Diesel locomotives 801 and 802 were both washed and are now on display in the engine house. Electric locomotives 80 and 81 need to be washed and have their pantographs installed. Finally, the museum plans on turning steam locomotive 81, a 2-8-0, and the steam rotary snow plow and display them pointing east. This will help the photographers with their pictures.

On the rolling stock front considerable progress has been made. First Class Coach 5 is back in service. This rare 122 year-old car will make infrequent appearances during the season. Baggage/Railway Post Office Car 20 has had its inside washed, scrapped and painted. The diesel generator was removed last summer. It looks like a completely different car.

We have two of the ACF boxcars undergoing restoration. One is undergoing a complete residing. This project is taking more time than we thought it would, but progress is being made. Volunteers recently repainted another boxcar and it looks like a new car (at least from a distance.) It now needs stenciling and its air brakes repaired and it will then go in service for photo shoots.

Work on track started right after the snow melted. Last fall our entire track was tamped and lined. This spring and summer ties will be changed out. The track from the Nevada Northern Railway Museum to the White Pine Public Museum is being worked on. A new street crossing is being built on Orson Avenue. Washouts were repaired and the entire line is being lined and tamped. Back in 1906, the Nevada Northern ran what was called ping-pong trains between the Ely Depot (today's Senior Center) and the East Ely Depot. Our plan is to use locomotive 310 and a specially made passenger car to run between the museums, a modern day version of the ping-pong train.

Work is also ongoing on the buildings on the property. The Engineer's Building received a new roof. The Commission on Cultural Affairs awarded the Museum $100,000 for the engine house and $75,000 for the McGill Depot. Speaking of the engine house, the door was replaced for track 1 and lights will be installed for track 2. This way the shop crew will have light to see what they are doing in the morning as they prepare locomotive 93 for another day's operation.

The excursion season officially opened on May 1 and if the first two weekends of May were any indication this will be an outstanding excursion year. In two weekends we carried 542 passengers; so far this year we have carried 1,211 passengers. To put this in perspective, three years ago our annual ridership was just over 5,000. So we have carried over 20% of the ridership that we had three years ago and the season just started.

To run these trains it takes manpower. Our manpower comes from our volunteers. Before they can enter train service they need to be trained. Part of the training is the annual rules and safety training. This year because of the amount of people, who volunteered for the season, the classroom work was held at Great Basin College. About sixty people showed up to review the rules and review safety. On Sunday, starting at 7:00 am, these volunteers, then went through hands on training and testing.

As you can see, this spring started with a bang. To keep the momentum going we need your assistance. You can help in two ways. First come down and volunteer. There is always something that needs doing. Secondly, your financial support is also needed. The projects that we have started will not be completed without a lot of money; it's a fact of life. Your contribution will assist the museum in maximizing its potential. Finally, there is something that you can do that will help the museum immensely, tell everyone you know, to take a ride on the Ghost Train of Old Ely. This is a simple task, but on that will assist the museum greatly.


 

 

 

 


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