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Great Western Steam-Up features days of family fun (sponsored)


Celebrate Fourth of July at the Nevada State Railroad Museum

The Great Western Steam Up – a four-day Fourth of July celebration planned July 1-4 at the Nevada State Railroad Museum in Carson City – will not only give families a look back in history, but an opportunity to immerse themselves in it.

The event will celebrate the 150th anniversary of the completion of the rail line that connected Virginia City and San Francisco for passenger service via the Virginia & Truckee Railroad. It includes an unprecedented “reunion” of V&T locomotives from the heyday of the railroad – nicknamed the Queen of the Short Lines.

Built in the 1860s to haul freight and silver-laced ore from the mines of Virginia City to the mills along the Carson River, the V&T soon expanded to Reno and Minden and at its peak in the 1870s, it was running 45 trains a day and earning $100,000 in profits a month. By the 1930s, the silver boom had ended and much of the V&T rolling stock was sold to Hollywood for use in the film industry. The railroad ceased operation in 1950.

For the Fourth of July celebration, the Nevada State Railroad Museum collaborated with nearly a dozen rail museums and historical societies from around the West for artifacts from the era of steam-powered locomotion.

“We wanted it to be a kinetic experience, so everything there is operating. It’s not a typical museum experience where everything is what we call ‘stuffed and mounted.’ A lot of this is working artifacts, so you can hear it, smell it, taste it and feel it,” said Todd Moore, president of the Friends of the Nevada State Railroad Museum, the event’s primary sponsor.

That means steam locomotives that are operational will be under power,” Moore said. A steam-powered printing press will be operating. Kids can get their hands dirty by panning for gold. It’s four days of live music, lost-arts crafts, hands-on kids’ activities, train rides, food trucks and frosty beverages.

“It’s going to be cool,” said Dan Thielen, director of the Nevada State Railroad Museum. “You don’t have to be a hard-core rail fan to get engaged in this.”

David Peterson, executive director of Visit Carson City, said the festivities give visitors coming into Reno and Lake Tahoe a great option for a unique daytime family adventure, while leaving time for them to return for fireworks and other festivities at the lake or downtown Reno.

“We know people are looking for alternate activities,” he said. “You can go on and off the locomotives throughout the course of the day. If you miss a ride in the morning, you can visit the food vendors or kids’ activities or the vendors area and then swing back by in the afternoon for the train ride. It’s a great opportunity for families.”

Event tickets are on sale now. Proceeds will benefit the Nevada State Railroad Museum in Carson City. Event information, schedules, ticket sales and more are available at greatwesternsteamup.com.

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