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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 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

 


Projects and Accomplishments
18 October 2003

 

I was speaking with a visitor to the museum the other day and he asked a simple question: what projects are we working on? Then I started to rattle off all of the projects that we have going on and what we have accomplished in the past year. The three critical projects are the Engine House and Machine Shop Building; the rehabilitation of the McGill Depot and bringing the tracks back to the depot; and to bring Locomotive 40 back into service.

The biggest project is the restoration the Engine House and Machine Shop building. This is the largest structure on the property and is the heart of our operation. We store the majority of the Nevada Northern Railway Collection in the Engine House and maintain the collection in the Machine Shop. Recently, we have invested over $163,000 in the building and this is just scratching the surface. To maintain structural integrity of the building will probably cost another $650,000. The museum received a $200,000 grant from the State of Nevada this year to start the process of building stabilization. That leaves only $450,000 more to go. Additional grants have been written to the State of Nevada and to Save America’s Treasures for the difference.

The McGill Depot is falling down. The roof in the southeast corner has collapsed and is forcing the blocks in the east wall and south wall out. This puts the entire southeast corner in serious danger of suffering a catastrophic collapse. The museum is engaged in making emergency repairs to stabilize that corner. The McGill Depot is critical to the museum for a variety of reasons. The structure is a unique building and it is important to save it for future generations. Estimated costs to stabilize the structure are $330,000. This does not include remodeling the structure for public use. A grant request has been written to State of Nevada for that amount. The saving of the structure will give the excursion trips to McGill a destination as the trains pull into the depot once again. The depot can serve as a museum for the community and tell the story of McGill. It can also serve as exhibit space. The successful completion of bringing trains back to McGill can start as a catalyst for economic development in the community.

Locomotive 40 is the crown jewel in the Nevada Northern collection. It has been sidelined for almost two years now, waiting for funds for a boiler rebuild as required by the Federal Railroad Administration. This high stepping engine was pulling passenger trains since her arrival in Ely over ninety-three years ago. Estimated costs for repairs are budgeted at $50,000 depending what is found once the locomotive is torn down. To raise this money, the museum will be starting the Project 40 fund in the near future.

The Engine House and Machine Shop Building, The McGill Depot and Locomotive are the big three projects that the museum has tackled as on going projects. In addition we’ve been working on smaller projects such as:

 

  • Successfully implemented a six-day a week excursion train schedule in 2003. This success will allow us to run two trains a day, six days a week in 2004.

  • Developed and implemented a comprehensive marketing plan, Still Steaming. This plan featured advertisements in national, regional, and local publications.

  • Increased awareness, number of visitors and ridership. By the end of the season ridership should be 8,200.
  • Increased volunteer base; developed and implemented volunteer training program. Our locomotive engineer-training plan is on file with the Federal Railroad Administration.

  • Extended the operating season into December, added the Haunted Ghost Trains and Polar Express trains.

  • Brought back the Winter Steam Spectacular Photo Shoot in February.

  • Replaced a culvert on the Keystone branch.

  • Increased operating revenues by 39% or $72,300; lowered expenses by 11%. (Operating revenues are generated by operations and do not include room tax or grant money.)

  • Received two USDA planning grants.

  • Received three Nevada Commission On Tourism promotional and marketing grants.

  • Completed repairs to locomotive 105 and put it back in service.

  • Repaired Coach 5, putting on couplers and setting it on its trucks. Once the brakes are adjusted, a few internal repairs made, the car will be put back in service.

  • Excavated the original ash pit with intentions to putting it back in service. Found the original 1908 plans to construct the track structure with.

  • Repaired and painted the car inspectors building compliments of the Ely Lions Club.

  • Successfully worked to pass legislation to receive 2% room tax money to stabilize the museums finances.

  • Successfully worked to pass legislation to receive a $500,000 grant from the state legislature to purchase the rest of the historic Nevada Northern Railway mainline from Los Angles.

  • Put the freight house track back into service to the depot.

  • Cleaned up the yard. Successfully implemented a six-day a week train schedule.

  • Developed and implemented a comprehensive marketing plan.

  • Increased awareness, number of visitors and ridership.

  • Increased volunteer base; developed and implemented volunteer training program.

  • Increased operating revenues by 48%; lowered expenses by 23%.

  • Received two USDA planning grants.

  • Received three NCOT promotional and marketing grants.

  • Completed preliminary enginehouse repair.

  • Completed repairs to a 53-year-old locomotive and put it back in service.

  • Completed repairs to a 136-year-old passenger coach and put it back in service.

  • Excavated the original ash pit with intentions to putting it back in service.

  • Repaired and painted the track crew building.

  • Successfully worked to pass legislation to receive 2% room tax money.

  • Successfully worked to pass legislation to receive a $500,000 grant from the state legislature to purchase the rest of the historic Nevada Northern Railway mainline.

  • Removed brush from the Lavon siding.

  • Moved the gift shop into the depot.

  • Scrapped and painted the picnic tables in Preservation Plaza.

  • Lined and tamped the track from Ruth to McGill.

 

All in all it has been a very successful year at the museum. We will build on these successes as we prepare for the Nevada Northern Centennial starting in 2005, come join us.

 

 

 

 

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email: info@nnry.com

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All Rights Reserved - Page Last Updated 18 October 2003
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