All aboard! Your guided tour through the Carson railroads is getting ready to leave the station. Much of Nevada’s rich railroad history weaves its way through the streets of Carson Valley, making it the perfect area for railroad and history enthusiasts to explore.

As the mining boom came and went, Carson City was forever changed by the infrastructure and transportation options brought by railroad expansion. The Virginia and Truckee Railroad, The Nevada State Railroad Museum, the Sutro Tunnel, and the Carson & Mills Park Railroad have all been expertly maintained so you can get a glimpse into what it was historically like to live and travel in the area.

Visiting the Carson railroads

One of the most famous short lines in American history, the Virginia and Truckee (V&T) Railroad, is still in operation today. Incorporated in 1868, the V&T Railroad was constructed as part of the mining boom in Northern Nevada. Transporting goods by wagon to and from Virginia City came with too high of a cost due to rugged terrain, creating increased demand for the 21-mile-long railway.

The V&T Railway is still fully operational and has become a fun activity for the whole family. Whether you want a date night out or to take your train-fanatic toddler on the ride of their life, the V&T railway offers trips you’ll never forget!

Events and Trips on the V&T Railroad

  • Carson City to Virginia City Train Rides are 24 miles round trip, giving you the whole day to relax, explore historic Virginia City, and learn about the history of the Carson Valley area.
  • If you’re a little shorter on time, the Virginia City to Gold Hill ride is perfect. At just four miles, your 35-minute ride will include historical narration and glimpses of mines and silver ore veins.
  • Looking for a night the kids won’t forget? The Polar Express runs Wednesday through Sunday, starting in mid-November. Experience the magic of the fan-favorite holiday story as you carol, read, and venture toward the North Pole.
  • Pull out all the stops for your next date night. The Toast of the Canyon trip takes 45 minutes to the Carson River Canyon. Sip on excellent wine as you listen to the echo of the steam train whistle against the canyon walls.
V&T Railway – Photographer: _©MarcelloRostagni2019

Step back in time at the Nevada State Railroad Museum

Conveniently located in the heart of Carson City, the Nevada State Railroad Museum offers fun for all. Inside the museum, you’ll learn about the creation of the Transcontinental Railroad, how train stations and operators used to communicate with each other, and much more.

Once you’ve walked through the museum, you may find time to hop on one of the steam train rides as it loops around the museum in 30-minute increments. The Nevada State Railroad Museum is open from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Thursday – Monday.

Visit the Iconic Sutro Tunnel

The Sutro Tunnel was built in 1873 by mining entrepreneur Adolph Sutro. Initially, the tunnel was designed to support the mining interests in Comstock, connecting the valley of Dayton to Virginia City draining hot water from the deep mining shafts in the area. As the project concluded, the tunnel was no longer beneficial for mining but remained highly active as it connected the small Sutro City to otherwise inaccessible resources.

Today, the Friends of Sutro Tunnel Charity works hard to restore the tunnel to its former glory. The group offers a guided tour, covering the history of Adolph Sutro and how the tunnel came to be. See the historic machinery and buildings, the beautiful private lake, and more!

Enjoy the downtown Carson Railroad

The Carson City Railroad Association, a nonprofit organization of railroad enthusiasts, operates two model railroads in the middle of Mills Park in downtown Carson City. The two-foot gauge riding railroad is fun for everyone. Once you’ve completed your ride, head inside the Depot to see an operational model railroad or stop by the snack bar to refuel for the next adventure.

While rail enthusiasts will enjoy visiting the many Carson railroad locations and activities, these spots also make great weekend plans for locals. Take the family, or just take yourself, and enjoy all the rich railroad history the Carson Valley area offers. You may find yourself taking on the railroad enthusiast title after a weekend spent on the tracks.

Photo Credit: V&T Railway

For more fun activities and local goings-on in the Carson Valley, check out the rest of the Dickson Realty blog or contact one of our neighborhood specialists today.