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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

 


The Nevada Northern Railway and the IRS
13 December 2003

 

I'm sure you have heard the term "a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation" but did you ever wonder what that phrase meant? The IRS recognizes certain corporations as a non-profit corporation, which means the entity raises money for charitable or educational projects. Individuals or companies who give money to a non-profit corporation are given a tax deduction by the IRS.

This has a double bonus for individuals and companies. Instead of sending their money to the government they can give the money to an organization that they want to support and not pay tax on that money. Secondly, instead of money an individual or company can donate an item to the non-profit and then take the fair market value of the donated item off of their taxes.

I'm sure by now you have figured out where this is leading to: the Nevada Northern Railway Museum is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation. As the year winds down, I ask that you consider making a donation to the museum of either cash or an item. Your assistance will insure the success of the museum in 2004.

I'm proud to report the museum had a very good year. Our passenger load was up and revenue from museum operations is also up. The museum was able to complete many different projects this past year. As we prepare for our Centennial in 2005/2006, there is so much more that needs to be done. The three big projects for next year are Project 40, Project Ash Pit, and Project McGill.

Steam locomotive 40 has been out of service for two years now because of Federal Railroad Administration rules. Some folks would argue that locomotive 40 is the Ghost Train. The estimated cost of repairs to locomotive 40 is oddly enough $40,000. The museum needs locomotive 40 back in service for a variety of reasons. First and foremost is people travel to Ely to see and ride behind our steam locomotives. Without a steam locomotive our passenger load will plummet. There is no backup for steam locomotive 93. If locomotive 93 fails, then our ridership will go down along with revenues. Remember, locomotive 93 is ninety-four years old. Secondly, having two steam locomotives will allow the museum to rotate the locomotives in excursion service. This will allow for maintenance and cause less wear and tear on the locomotives. Third, starting in 2006, maybe in 2005, the museum would like to run steam seven days a week during the prime tourist season. For this to happen we need two locomotives in operation. Your donation to the museum will help this become a reality.

Our second big project in 2004 is rebuilding the ash pit in the East Ely yard. This is a critical project for the continuance of steam operations at the museum. Why is an ash pit so important? Because every time we fire up a steam locomotive it creates ash. Doesn't sound like much of a problem until you factor in that we ran steam three days a week in 2003, plan to push it to four days a week in 2004, and maybe start seven days a week in 2005. What do you do with all of that ash? It is embarrassing to tell you how we handle ash now. We dump it on the track in front of the engine house. There are three major problems with our current disposal method. First, the ash usual has hot embers in it. So you dump these hot embers on a wooden tie and guess what happens, you start a fire. Starting a fire directly in front of the historic structure that holds most of your historic collection of railroad equipment is not a good idea. Secondly, you have to dispose of the ash by digging it up out of the rails. We do this by using the bucket on our backhoe. This is a slow laborious process that does not maximize our resources. Finally, remember how we started fires on the ties that hold the rails together, and then we use the bucket to dig out the track from the ash? Well, the combination of weakening the ties and then slamming into the rails to remove the ash will cause the rails to go wide gauge; end result, we'll put locomotive 93 on the ground, and it is just a matter of time. If we're really unlucky, we'll put 93 on the ground just before train time and then have to refund thousands of dollars in tickets to some very unhappy customers, O yippee! You can see how your donation to the Nevada Northern to build the ash pit can avoid all of these frustrations.

Finally, our third major project is to get the track back into the McGill Depot from the Adverse side. Project McGill is necessary to build our passenger load going to McGill. Currently the ride ends in the middle of nowhere. By going to the McGill Depot, the Adverse run will have a destination. Across the street from the depot is an art foundry that can offer tours to our passengers. Further into McGill you have the Rexall Drug Store Museum and the McGill Bar. People from outside our area will want to explore these areas. Don't believe me? Check out Silverton Colorado. Before the Durango and Silverton Railroad put passengers in Silverton, it was a dying town, sound familiar? Now Silverton is a vibrant community. It could happen in McGill, if the passenger trains can get to the McGill depot.

So how can you help? You can help in a number of ways and save money on your taxes at the same time…

Membership - If you are not already a member of the Nevada Northern Railway Museum, become one today! Membership levels start at just $15 a year. Become a sustaining member; these are individuals that support the museum at a higher amount than the basic membership fee. Sustaining memberships can be for whatever amount you choose and can be charged to your credit card monthly or quarterly, at your choosing. This type of dependable giving allows the Museum to budget and plan much more easily for its many projects.

Buy a Brick in Preservation Plaza - Already a member? Purchase a brick in Preservation Plaza to assist in the restoration of the Nevada Northern Railway National Historic District. The Museum is offering the public an opportunity to purchase and personalize Memorial Bricks that will have a permanent place in the National Historic District. A professional certificate of participation, suitable for framing, is provided with each brick purchased. Help save our national treasure-buy a brick today.

Gifts of Stock - Donations of stocks, bonds, or appreciated securities are an efficient and smart way to contribute. You take a charitable gift deduction of the full, fair market value of the stock based on the date of transfer and, in doing so you avoid paying the capital gains on the appreciated value. (However, if you lost value on a stock, it is better to sell it first and then donate the proceeds from the sale.)

Bequests - Your planned giving or bequest will provide continuing income to the Nevada Northern Railway Museum and provides a way for you to be remembered in perpetuity. Please remember to let us know if you have remembered the Museum in your will.

Other Gifts - Other generous gifts, such as homes, land, automobiles, antiques, and collectables are especially appreciated. Often people have land or automobiles that they no longer need or use; these make great donations. You to determine the fair market value of the item that you donate and, with your receipt from us, deduct it from your taxes.

Cash Donation - All cash donations of any size are gratefully accepted. Your check, made payable to the "Nevada Northern Railway Museum," is a fast, simple, and convenient method to support the Museum…and it's fully tax-deductible. The Museum and all its associated equipment and facilities are a designated National Historic Site.

Always consult with your accountant or CPA to find out what's best for you, but please give from the heart. The Nevada Northern Railway turns 99 years old next year; your generous assistance will help insure that we will steam into our second century. Thanks.

 

 

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All Rights Reserved - Page Last Updated 22 December 2003
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