74.9 F

Historic motor car Races toward 100


Virginia & Truckee No. 22, McKeen Motor Car First Run at Minden, Nev. 1910.

Railroad Museum Seeks Original Riders of the McKeen Motor Car


Carson City, Nevada. The Nevada State Railroad Museum will celebrate the delivery of the historic McKeen Motor Car May 9, 2010 marking the 100th year anniversary of its arrival in Carson City. The museum seeks individuals who remember riding the McKeen Car during its original service on the famed Virginia & Truckee Railway between 1910 and 1945. 

“We know of some existing residents who rode the McKeen car as children or young adults,” said Peter Barton, Acting Administrator of Museums & History. “We suspect there may be others out there, considering the McKeen Car was in service for over 35 years.” 

Individuals who remember riding the car are urged to contact Teresa Moiola at 775-687-8323 or [email protected] to share their story and participate in the upcoming commemorative festivities.

The McKeen was a bit of an anomaly when it originally ran on the Virginia &Truckee line. The car was self-propelled with a noisy engine and unique shape, being rounded on one end and pointed on the other, and boasted round porthole windows.  To top it off, it was painted a very rich wine color with gold lettering and striping. 

Between 1905 and 1920 about 160 McKeen Motor Cars were built for use across the United States, Mexico and Australia.  V&T McKeen Motor Car No. 22 was built in 1910 at a cost of $22,000 and was delivered to the railroad at Carson City on May 9, 1910. The car operated between Reno and Minden until 1945 amassing over 530,000 miles in service.  In 1946 the car body was sold for use as a diner in Carson City, later becoming the office for Al’s Plumbing.  

Members of the restoration team with the fully restored McKeen Motor Car at the Nevada State Railroad Museum, Carson City.

In 1995 the car was donated to the Nevada State Railroad Museum by the Bernhard family of Carson City and has undergone a remarkable restoration. When the Nevada State Railroad Museum hosts its celebration on May 10, 2010 it will mark 100 years to the day of the car’s arrival in Carson City. Additionally, it will be the first time the McKeen Car runs under its own power while carrying passengers since it was decommissioned. 

The Nevada State Railroad Museum operates steam-ups with historic Virginia & Truckee Railroad equipment on select weekends throughout the year.  The museum also participates in scholarly efforts, such as the annual Nevada Railroad History Symposium held in Carson City each fall.  The museum is located on Route 395 at the south end of Carson City at the intersection of Fairview Avenue.  A yellow train station and red water tank at the entrance to the museum grounds are landmarks.  For more information, please call 775-687-6953. 

The Nevada State Railroad Museum is one of seven museums of the Nevada Department of Cultural Affairs.  The Department serves Nevada’s citizens and visitors through cultural and information management, presentation and promotion of cultural resources, and education. The Department also includes the State Historic Preservation Office, Nevada State Library and Archives and the Nevada Arts Council.  For more information, please call Teresa Moiola at (775) 687-8323 or visit the department’s website at www.NevadaCulture.org.

This Is Reno is your source for award-winning independent, online Reno news and events since 2009. We are locally owned and operated.