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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

 


Looking Back, Looking Ahead
14 December 2002


A little after 3:00 p.m. last Sunday the fire was dropped from Locomotive 93 and she was put away for the season. And what a season it was, from traveling to Utah for the 2002 Olympic Winter Games to traveling to the North Pole to visit with Santa Claus, 93 was a well traveled locomotive!

Both events were great successes. The Olympics gave Ely and the Nevada Northern worldwide exposure. The Polar Express last weekend brought people from New York, Louisiana, and Las Vegas to Ely to take the trip to the North Pole. Our volunteers for that weekend came from California, Utah, Reno, Elko and White Pine County. As a first time event, I was very pleased with the turnout. Passenger count was over 150. The event was maximized by incorporating two steam locomotive rentals and a diesel rental as part of the weekend along with the scheduled trains.

Kudos go to the volunteers and staff who made all of this possible. You need to remember that water freezes at 32º F and it gets below that at night in Ely right now. Getting Locomotive 93 ready for a winter run takes a real team effort and may hours of hard work.

The First Polar Express weekend brought in close to $4,000 to the Nevada Northern Railway Museum. Locomotive 93 hauled kids of all ages to the North Pole to visit with Santa. The success of the weekend was due to the efforts of the volunteers and museum staff.


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 broke through 7,100, our best year to date. Next year, starting with the Memorial Day weekend, 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. Our goal is to carry 10,000 passengers next season.

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.

Just because trains are not running does mean all is quiet at the museum. The push now is to get ready for 2003. The coaches Ely and Nevada need work before the start of next season. This work includes new wheels, brake work, 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.

Work will continue on Coach 5, restoring a 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. Then the last weekend in April is the volunteer training weekend; mark your calendars now!

Itís been a great year and next year should be even better, come on down and help.


As a side note, with the holidays fast approaching donít forget the gift opportunities from the Nevada Northern Railway Museum. As a suggestion, how about giving a gift membership in the museum? Memberships start at $15. Weíll open the gift shop for you during normal business hours Monday through Friday. You can call ahead or ring the doorbell and one of us open it up for you. Copies of the book The Polar Express are available, along with coffee mugs, patches, t-shirts and other items. The ultimate gift for the railfan on your list is a locomotive rental. This is where they can take the throttle and head out on to the line. Reserve and pay now for a trip in 2003 and save 10%--call the office for details.

 

 


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All Rights Reserved - Page Last Updated 14 December 2002
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