Century-old V&T railroad museum car open for rides at celebration
The century-old McKeen Motor Car railroad car, the first use of internal combustion in revenue rail service, will emerge from extensive renovation and be available for public rides at a birthday celebration May 9 at the Wabuska Depot in Carson City.
Powered by a sputtering primordial gasoline engine, the McKeen car was built in Omaha, Neb., in 1905 and delivered to the Virginia & Truckee Railroad on May 9, 1910, as V&T No. 22. The strangely nautical-looking car has a rounded stern, smoothly-arched roof and portholes for windows. It is less than half as long as a conventional passenger car and bobs up and down on only four wheels.
The V&T car is the only one of the estimated 160 McKeen rail cars that has survived in anything like its original state. It was donated to the Nevada State Railroad Museum in Carson City and restored to operating condition in time for the 100th anniversary of its delivery to the V&T.
The museum will display the McKeen car as a living artifact and touchstone for rail enthusiasts from around the world. It was the brainchild of American rail baron E.H. Harriman and imaginative engineer William R. McKeen, Jr.
The anniversary celebration, which coincides with Mother's Day, will begin at noon on the railroad platform in historic Wabuska Depot, which was relocated from the town of Wabuska to the railroad museum property.
During the ceremony, Preserve Nevada will announce the 2010 list of the state's “Eleven Most Endangered Historic Places,” and after the program, the McKeen car will available for limited public rides. First-day commemorative tickets will be $10 for adults, $9 for seniors over 65 and $5 for children ages 5 to 12, and special McKeen Car merchandise will be available for purchase. For more information, visit www.nevadaculture.org/museums and click on “Railroad Museum Carson City.” The railroad museum, 2180 South Carson St., is open Friday through Monday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Call 775-687-6953 for more information.