Considering that the V&T Railway is going to start running trains all the way from Virginia City to Carson City (or vice versa, as the case may be) in just three short weeks, and combined with the fact that Phase 3 of the railroad will be having its groundbreaking on Monday, just two days from now, I decided it was time for me and my camera to return to Mound House and check out the progress on the railroad so far. The last time I went out to inspect the railroad’s right of way, the railbed had been graded all the way through Mound House but no tracks had been laid. But now it’s five months later, and they’re essentially done with the track all the way to the end of Phase 2. Now they’re putting the finishing touches on the Mound House depot site, and the depot even has a name! So much progress, so let’s get started with our tour.
Here is where the road to the Mound House depot site intersects with Flint Drive, also known as “dump road”. It’s so called because it’s the road you take to get to the Carson City Landfill. This little side road existed before the railroad project began, as there is a model airpark out here that has been popular for several years. But now the road to the depot has an official name, “Eastgate Siding Road”. Eastgate was the name chosen for the siding at the depot site, so I’m going to be calling the depot “Eastgate Depot”.
Eastgate Siding Road has been paved, although it’s not new asphalt. It’s leftover grindings from projects elsewhere in town. It’s better than a dirt road, but still rather rough.
The railroad tracks are about 40-50 feet above the road at this point, so this switchback lets you climb up the grade to the depot.
And here’s Eastgate Depot. Not much to it, just a long thin parking lot and a lot of gravel. Tractors and job trailers are still onsite, since they’re not quite done yet. Hopefully they’ll pretty it up a bit before the runs start on August 14th. Striping the parking lot should be the least they do.
The Eastgate siding splits off of the main line, and peters out right here. This seems to have been specially built as a place where equipment can be offloaded from trucks and rolled right onto the line. Rumors are that the McCloud Engine #18, which the V&T Commission owns but has been in California for years, will be coming back to town as soon as this weekend. Doubtless when #18 first hits V&T rail, it will happen right here.
A look up at the depot site. The main line is to the right, Eastgate siding straight ahead. The siding is plenty long enough that one train can be stopped at the depot while another one passes on the main line. Although the thought of having two trains running simultaneously is quite the pipe dream.
This switch gets trains from the siding back onto the main line.
Crossover track leading to the siding.
Towards the north end of the depot, some construction is evident.
A closer look shows that they’re building an elevated platform for passengers to board the train.
The platform is very small, but I guess if the trains only have one or two cars it doesn’t need to be any bigger.
It looks like they’re building a ramp up to the platform, to make it wheelchair friendly. I don’t know if the cars themselves will accommodate wheelchairs, though.
The sign for Eastgate siding sits on the opposite side of the tracks from the depot.
You can tell the tracks are newly laid, since every few minutes as I was walking along they would let out a large echoing “Clunk“. This, I figured, was the sound of the track expanding in the hot summer sun and settling into place.
From a nearby hill, you get a good view of the depot site. Beyond is Carson City and the Sierra Nevada.
Looking north, you can see where Eastgate siding rejoins the main line. The line then curves away towards the Hwy 50 bridge.
To the south of the depot, the tracks curve away on their way to the river. The end of the line is another half mile or so past this point. It’s funny that this sign says “Private Property”. The V&T Railway is owned by the State of Nevada, so wouldn’t that actually make this public property?
There is a grade crossing at the depot, but since it’s just a dirt road leading into the hills they didn’t need to put in crossing signals. Just a stop sign.
This work cart sits off to the side at the depot.
Downhill from the depot a couple of pieces of equipment sit on the track.
They built the line about half a mile past the depot, leading down towards the river.
All of this is new construction, part of the new alignment they had to design to bypass the development that’s happened in Mound House over the last 70 years.
Down the hill and around the curve is the end of track. These rocks mark the end of Phase 2 of the reconstruction project, right where the new alignment meets up with the old, at Highland Drive.
Kind of weird, but I guess they had a reason to just leave the track hanging without any ties like this.
Looking past the end of track, Highland Drive continues down to the river. This is the original alignment that the V&T used to run on, nowadays it’s a road for four-wheelers to access the Carson River. But in two days, Monday July 27th, this road will be blocked off and closed to vehicle traffic forever. On that day Phase 3 of the V&T project will begin, and they’ll smooth out the old railbed and start laying track at least another mile towards the river. They’ll go until they run out of money and have to stop. They’re not going to make it all the way to Carson City, but every step closer is something to celebrate.
So what’s around that bend? Come back later and we’ll take a trip down Highland Drive to the river and see some of the sights you’ll be able to see from the train. We’ll also visit some other spots in Mound House to see the brand new track and the grade crossing at Linehan Road. Stay tuned!