If you were a fan of the Wild, Wild West television series back in the mid-1960s, you might recall the magnificent train- the Wanderer- that special agents James West and Artemus Gordon traveled aboard. The Wanderer was pulled by the Inyo, which is one of the oldest steam engines still operating in the U.S. If you’d like another look at this famous locomotive, head to the Nevada State Railroad Museum in Carson City. Once a year, the Inyo is fired up and brought out on the tracks as part of the museum’s annual Independence Day celebration. If you visit at other times, you can still see it on display indoors. In addition to the Wild, Wild West, the Inyo also appeared in nearly 30 other films. Many of the museum’s other key pieces were obtained from Hollywood studios, too.
The Nevada State Railroad Museum is also home to a few other engines, and a large collection of late 19th and early 20th century railroad-related artifacts and records. A gallery of interesting old photos and historical memorabilia line the museum’s walls. One of the most interesting exhibits is Virginia and Truckee Railway Engine #27 and an elegant passenger car. The Virginia and Truckee Railroad was probably America’s most famous short line railroad. In 1869, the first segment of the railroad was completed between Virginia City and Carson City. In 1872, an extension was built from Carson City to Reno. In 1906, in order to serve the prospering agricultural business in the Carson Valley, the third and final segment extended from Carson City to Minden. The railroad stopped running in 1950.
Along with its restored railroad cars and locomotives, the museum has a huge HO-scale (1/87th actual size) model railroad on display. Adults can also try pumping a restored handcar down a short track located outside the museum. Kids really love to climb aboard the museum’s play train, Whistling Billy, and pretend to be the engineer.
The Nevada State Railroad Museum does a good job of preserving the Silver State’s railroad heritage, as well as providing a home for several retired Hollywood favorites. But since Nevada has been facing budget challenges, call ahead before visiting the museum to ensure it is open.
The accuracy of this article is assured by the author’s personal visit to and information provided by:
Nevada State Railroad Museum
2180 South Carson Street (US 395 at Fairview)
Carson City, NV 89701