Nevada State Railroad Museum
The Nevada State Heritage Association was organized in 1959 to protect and preserve the state's historical resources, and in particular, artifacts associated with Nevada railroads. In 1964 the Heritage Association located a 27-acre site at the Carson City airport that the Association planned to use as a museum called "Yesterville" and V&T Traintown. The long-range goal of the organization was to build a rail line from the airport to Mound House but unfortunately, these plans were cancelled with expansion of the airport.
The Nevada State Heritage Association formed the core of the Friends of Nevada Heritage Association, Inc., a quasi-state agency authorized by the 1971 Nevada State Legislature to raise funds for the return, restoration, and operation of Virginia and Truckee Railroad equipment. Their purpose was to acquire the equipment, sites, and right-of-way for the operation of the V&T, while a subgroup, the V&T Restoration Company was to finance the project.
Within two years there were complaints before the Senate Finance Committee about the way Nevada Heritage Association was caring for its equipment. Critics charged the Association had been unable to purchase important equipment, despite having the funds to do so; that equipment already in its possession was allowed to deteriorate; that it was fiscally irresponsible; and that it was a "ghost" organization with no membership, dues, meetings, or public records. As a result, the 1973 Legislature abolished the Nevada State Heritage Association, transferred the entire collection to the Nevada State Parks System, and in 1979 to the Nevada State Museum within the Nevada Department of Museums and History. Dick Datin was selected to head the new museum.
With the assistance of a grant from the Max C. Fleischmann Foundation, a new railroad museum opened on May 31, 1980. The Nevada State Railroad Museum, located at South Carson Street and Fairview Avenue was open seasonally, from Memorial Day to Labor Day. The paid staff was very small and the museum was largely run, as it is today, by unpaid docents and volunteers who are members of the Friends of the Nevada State Railroad Museum. The Friends, incorporated in 1983, organized and now operate a perpetual trust fund to assist in the support of the Museum, funding equipment purchase and restoration of rolling stock through proceeds of the museum gift shop.
The original museum building provided a space to display a small portion of the collection but not enough room for other exhibits and museum interpretation. In 1990 a new interpretive center was added which greatly expanded the display space. Also added over the years have been railroad tracks around the property, a turntable, an historic train station moved from Wabuska, and other train buildings. Some of the Museum's most popular attractions are "steam-ups" of restored engines that are used to pull visitors along the tracks. Currently the museum is open year-round.
Administratively, the Nevada State Railroad Museum is part of Cultural Affairs, which includes Museums, History, Arts, the Office of Historic Preservation, and the Library and Archives. The mission of the museum to collect, preserve, restore and exhibit Nevada railroad engines and rolling stock as well as artifacts and documents related to railroading in Nevada. Additionally, the facility offers museum visitors a complete railroading experience by providing interactive opportunities including operation of historic equipment and a full range of educational programs.
Records 1940-2003; bulk dates 1979-2000 9.5 cu. ft.
The records of the Nevada State Railroad Museum consist of 9.5 cubic feet dating from 1940-2003 and have been divided into the following series: