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Saving Coach 5

To the casual observer the museum does not seem to change. But under the surface work is continuing on various projects. One such project is Nevada Northern Railway Coach 5. Damaged in a collision eight years ago, we are near the end of the repairs and getting Coach 5 ready for service. Following is an article on Coach 5 by Keith Albrandt from Railway Preservation News, the online magazine of railway history and preservation.

Eight years after suffering significant damage in a collision, Nevada Northern Railway Museum’s coach 5 has been restored and is returning to service.

The wooden coach was one of four pieces of equipment damaged on 17 June 1995 when a runaway bulkhead flat car loaded with railroad ties crashed into one of the Museum’s regularly scheduled excursion trains. The flat car was owned and operated by the Northern Nevada Railroad Corporation, a new short line (separate from and independent of the Museum) formed to transport copper concentrate from renewed mining activity in the area.

Locomotive & Railway Preservation covered the incident in their September-October 1995 (issue 55) “Preservation News” column edited by Bob Yarger in an article entitled “Another Wakeup Call?” Briefly, locomotive 93 and two of the Museum’s classic wooden coaches, No.’s 5 and 2, suffered extensive damage forcing cancellation of the remainder of the 1995 season.

Coach 5 suffered damage to its draft gear, trucks, and couplers. Remarkably, not a single window (including original leaded art glass ones) was broken. The force of the impact ripped a few of the seats from the floor.

The first phase of rehabilitation had begun by the summer of 2000 with conversion of the wood and steel trucks to all steel construction. One truck was re-worked but the second had to be completely rebuilt from dimensions of old parts, as no blueprint was available. The coach body itself was moved to the machine shop section of the engine house at East Ely and sat atop jacks during the restoration process.

In all, some $300,000 was invested in the restoration of the Pullman coach with its Honduran Mahogany paneling and Czechoslovakian etched glass. It features a “smoking” section with leather seats originally intended for men and a women’s section featuring velvet upholstery.

The shop crew at the Nevada Northern Railway Museum, with some assistance from the Heber Valley Railroad, has recently completed rebuilding the draft gear for the coach. Work on the couplers is almost complete, after which the trucks will be reinstalled. Minor interior repairs and repainting will follow before its return to service later this year.

Coach 5 is the third piece of equipment restored and returned to service since the accident. The Museum’s open-air, bench tourist car, built from NN flatcar 23 in 1987, received minor damage, and was repaired by the autumn of 1995 at a cost of ~$5,000. Locomotive 93 (Alco 2-8-0, 1909) was the subject of an intense restoration effort and returned to service in November 1996.

Wooden coach No. 2 (St. Louis Car Company, 1908) suffered the most extensive damage in the collision. Both vestibules buckled, the couplers and trucks sustained damage, the frames’ I-beams were knocked out of alignment, and about seventy-five windows were broken. The force of the impact ripped most of the seats from the floor. It is currently stored unfit for service and was initially deemed not repairable. However, because of its uniqueness to the Nevada Northern Railway, it will be undergoing a new evaluation within the next year in the hope that it can be restored, given that enough funds can be raised for the project.

Completion of this project returns one of the most beautiful pieces of rolling stock on the property to working condition. It will allow the Museum to carry additional passengers on its trains as well as provide valuable space in the machine shop for work to commence on the restoration of locomotive 40.


Coach 5 was built by the Pullman Chicago Works as all wooden sleeping car Silesia (plan 93B, lot 38; 12 section / drawing room) in June 1882 for the Pullman-Union Pacific Association. It was withdrawn from UP Association use in April 1898 and subsequently sold to Hotchkiss, Blue and Company. The Nevada Northern Railway purchased it second hand in January 1913 for $1,500.00 plus an additional $197.60 in freight charges for shipment from Chicago, Illinois to Cobre, Nevada.

It was apparently designated as coach 03 on the Nevada Northern roster until its conversion from a Pullman sleeper to 1st class coach (chair car) 5 (with smoking and non-smoking sections) between 31 December 1917 and 31 May 1918 at a cost of ~$8,900. Kennecott Copper Corporation donated it to the Nevada Northern Railway Museum in 1986.

The following information is from the Nevada Northern Railway records.

Interstate Commerce Commission
Division of Valuation
54-Passenger Train Cars
D.V. Form 311
21 August 1917
Carrier: Nevada Northern
Station: East Ely, Nevada

“Coach 5. Bought of Hotchkis [sic] Blue & Company, 1-1913. Purchased second hand at Chicago. Held out of service and in shop about 3 years. Car in shop undergoing general overhauling, being converted from Pullman sleeper to 1st class coach. Receiving new steel underframe, new inside finial, new windows, new sheathing. All new posts and braces. All new except sills, clerestory and plates. New ‘Diato’ flooring. Seats & Heater yet to be installed. This information furnished by Foreman in Charge.”

Length over end sills: 66′-7″
Width over side sills: 8′-5″
Body, kind: Wood
Roof, kind: Wood and Canvas Deck Type
Underframe, kind: Steel I Beams
Body bolsters, kind: Cast steel
Body cross-ties, kind: Cast steel
Air brake equipment schedule: PM 1412
Trucks, kind: 6 Wheel wood-plated
Truck bolster, kind: Composite
Wheels, No.: 12; kind: Steel; diam.: 36″
Draft rigging, kind: Twin Sprg.
Platform, kind: Cast Steel
Vestibule, kind: Wide
Partitions, No.: 1; kind: Mahogany
Toilet rooms, No.: 2 – 37×60″
Interior finish: Mahogany
Seats, kind: Heywood Bros. & Wakefield Co.
4 – Windows 30×30″, Double Sash
12 – Double Window Sash 34×48″
4 – Double Windows 24×34″
1 – Baker Heater Room, 32x42x80″
1 – Locker, 17x37x80″
4 – 1½” Truss Rods.

Service condition: Body: 75%; Trucks: 55%

To update the story by Keith, the trucks are now under the car and the couplers are installed. Work is continuing on installing the airbrake equipment. Final tasks are repairing a few seats and then painting the car. It will be rolling in service in July. Due to its historic status it will not be in regular excursion service, but reserved for special events.

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Hours of Operation

Monday - Saturday | 8AM - 5PM
Sunday | 8AM - 4PM

Our Location

1100 Ave A, Ely, NV 89301

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