Currently Reading

« Reno: Baseball Developers Want Some Money | Main | Ballpark Construction Gallery »

January 31, 2009


Scott Schrantz

Nobody's going to build anything in Mound House, nor should they. The Mound House stop is just a temporary end of the line. Whether it's temporary for six months or six years is the question, but eventually the line is going to go beyond Mound House into Carson City, and after that happens the train probably won't even stop at Mound House anymore. The location of the stop, next to a junkyard and on the road to the dump, isn't a great spot for any kind of tourist destination.

There are grand plans revolving around the Carson City depot, though. The depot is going to be at the far east end of town, right up against the foothills. The train can't go any farther than that because the right of way is not available, and they don't want to invest in grade crossings at every cross street. But there is a lot of empty land at the proposed depot site, and several developers have stepped forward with plans for retail, office space, hotels, condos, and even a Chinese history museum. All plans are on hold because nobody can raise the money, and because of the uncertainty of if and when the railroad will ever reach the site. You can't fault them for lack of imagination, though.

More info on that here:

The current plan has tourists parking at the east Carson depot site (possibly with a small temporary depot constructed there), then being bussed up the hill to Mound House to board the train. This suggests they don't even want to invest in building a parking lot in Mound House.

The attractiveness of riding a bus to take the train is up for debate.


Scott, I'm naturally inclined to disagree with the sentiments of your comment but for reasons I'll get into later. Do you have the location of the "temporary" mound house stop?

Scott Schrantz

The Mound House end of the line is going to be somewhere around here:,-119.676433 . This is from the project map, which can be found at .

The Carson City depot is site is here:,-119.691796 , about a mile or two away by car.

The plan to bus people from Carson City to Mound House is in this article: .


Hello gentlemen, here's my two cents:

I say give Moundhouse the opportunity to capitalize on being on a primary railway when it's finally completed, going from Virginia City to Carson City.

Do you KNOW how much people love trains in this country? It' an odd obsession; for example, my dad lives in Wrightwood, a small mountain town just off I-15 in the San Gabriel Mountains in CA above L.A. At the base of the I-15 exit to take Highway 2 up to Wrightwood, there is a HUGE train interchange yard thingy. Thousands of train fanatics cause the adjacent motels to sell out constantly. Making it hard for me to book a room to visit my dad. LOL. Anyway people like trains.
My point is when this is complete, it will draw in train fanatics like Carson City has never seen before. Why shut out Moundhosue out of that potential profit? I've never been there, but I've google-steet-viewed it. Yeah, it's a pit, but with a little redevelopment it could be Nevada-chic.
For all too long, Nevada has not embraced what it truly is, especially Northern Nevada. Las Vegas admits what it is; a wicked haven for adults to be naughty. Reno needs to drop the 'America's Adventure Place' thing, that campaign was a disaster, and Carson City needs to embrace the 'Nevada's Capital' thing to the max. Isn't there ANYTHING historic in Moundhouse that could be the centerpoint for as a tourist stop on the way to Virginia City?


Thanks for the locations Scott. The whole inspiration for this post was that it would be cool for the train to stop places, people could actually get off the train and get back on the next one. The Comstock as a place where you not only ride a historic train but where you don't have to just ride between point a and point b. Still if it stops that far off the highway in mound house, would be a little harder to make things work. I think the train is cooler if it stops more than just two places. Mike, I don't think there's anything historic in Mound House. What I was suggesting was pretty contrived.

Scott Schrantz

As far back as 1994 it was thought that there might be a market for a shorter train trip, Carson to Mound House and back. In that case they saw the need for some kind of facilities at Mound House, at the very least a depot with a ticket window and restroom. I'm not sure back then if they had the current alignment in mind, or if they though the line would follow the historic alignment along Red Rock Road. The location of the Mound House stop now is just too close to the Carson City depot to make sense to build anything.

This is also being discussed on a Yahoo Group devoted to the V&T:

In an ideal situation, the train would be able to follow the original alignment through the middle of Mound House. This would mean following Red Rock Rd, which was built on the old railbed. And in this ideal world, the original Mound House Depot would still be standing, and the Nevada State Railroad Museum could set up an interpretive center there. Because Mound House wasn't just a depot, it was also the junction point connecting the V&T to the Carson & Colorado Railroad, a narrow-gauge spinoff that went south to Hawthorne and California's Owens Valley. The C&C has a rich history too, especially in the early 1900s when gold was discovered in Tonopah and the C&C was the closest railroad. If that depot was still standing it would make a great stop. But it was torn down after the line was abandoned in 1938.

I put up some historic pictures of the railroad facilities in Mound House. They can be seen here: . All of this was located near this spot:,-119.674673 . If only any of this was still around, that would be enough history to make Mound House a place worth stopping.

Jim Lohse

Anecdotal guesses about the number of railfans out there might be more believable if they were supported by some facts.

I think that railfans are not going to make a viable long-term base of ridership. If you take a look at other tourist railroads and the plans submitted by a few railroads to the V&T Commission, you'll find that Sierra's projection of 135,000 to 160,000 is wildly optimistic and not supported by any evidence out there.

I love the desert and Northern Nevada but were are no Silverton or Durango.

As far as putting in the train so people don't have to drive Geiger Grade, or redevelopment plans for Mound House, it's nice wishful thinking but not realistic. Over the next couple decades the housing market will recover, the economy will grow, and someday Mound House will redevelop itself.

I know people won't like me saying this, but for Carson City or Mound House to consider themselves as competitive tourist destinations is also not realistic. Take CC's desire to brand itself as the culinary capital. Now count on ten fingers the decent restaurants in CC and then compare to the many choices Reno has to offer.

Finally, look at this from a tourism perspective. Reno is nationally known. Carson City is not. Carson City's own studies show that it's a drive through town, not a tourist destination.

Geiger Grade may not be the straightest road but it still allows hundreds of thousands of tourist to see Virginia City while bypassing Carson City. Geiger has always been the shortcut to the Comstock and no matter how much we love trains, the Re-con project is not going to change that geographical fact.

The two things that might work are running buses from Reno to VC. At a presentation, Mary Reno of the ElDorado stated that nearly 100% of the VC tourists drive there, and only a small fraction take a bus tour.

One more thing, before people talk up the value of riding a two-hour train vs. driving 20 minutes up 341/342, remember that unless the Commission builds a full engine service facility, the base of operations will continue to be in Virginia City.

Are the Gray's supposed to run an empty train down to Carson, make the CC-VC round trip, and then run empty back to VC at the end of the day? Are they supposed to stop their normal operations so they can run at less than half capacity?

The two most likely scenarios are true railfans who ride from Virginia City to Carson and back, and tour bus operators who drop their riders at one end of the line and pick them up at the other end.

This is already too long, as noted above we are discussing this on a Yahoo Group, and without considering the operation aspects all these ideas about Mound House redevelopment are just dreams.


Jim Lohse


Hey Jim thanks for stopping by. First thing I would mention is that I haven't heard Mound House ask for "redevelopment" In fact, redevelopment isn't really Mound House's style, if I'm a good judge of character. No, what I was suggesting was putting in essentially a cheap Old West movie set "town" next to the "end of the line", with a parking lot to give people something to do when the train gets there and to give people the option of disembarking from there to get to VC.

I haven't heard much about CC wanting to be a "culinary capital" but what I know about today is that CC wants to bring more people downtown and finish the freeway. They would obviously like to draw in some visitors, which brings me to the next point which is that Reno and CC can't be competitors, they have to work together. I believe the future of Reno's tourism, one of the keys to getting their numbers up, is regional portfolio marketing, and CC is part of the regional portfolio along with VC, and at some point we can assume/hope the V&T train.

It's not about Carson becoming a tourist destination in its own right that exists independently of and competes with Reno for visitors, it's about Carson being part of the regional portfolio that makes the region a more attractive destination for visitors.

Finally, even if it is a pipe dream, I'll keep having it, I want tourists to take the train to VC so I don't have to tailgate them up Geiger Grade.



Oh also. I defer on the technical/operations points. If it were me I'd be running DMU's and I'd keep those beautiful steam trains in a museum and/or running on very short tracks. They're not exactly making any more of them.

Jim Lohse

Well, on the idea of getting the slow drivers off Geiger Grade we are certainly in agreement. Actually, I'd be happy to drive the twelve miles slowly if they just wouldn't drift dangerously over the line in the face of oncoming traffic.

I agree with you about Carson and Reno working together but Carson doesn't see it that way. They indeed have an effort to brand themselves as a culinary destination. Given that we have Charlie Palmer's and many other great restaurants here I don't see it happening. For what it's worth, my faves are places like Casale's, Galletti's Coney Island and casino coffeeshops.

Some of my angst comes from watching the Carson City politicians sell this railroad as the "only thing that will bring money into Carson City." Janice Ayres and Bob Hadfield both use that line. Recently they paid a consultant for an economic impact study that was full of holes. They showed an economic impact that flows to Reno and to contractors in California, and then claimed all that impact would land in Carson City.

More recently the Re-con Commission discussed hiring ex-Mayor Marv Teixeira as a consultant. Marv has been a driving force behind this project and just stepped down as a Commissioner because he's no longer Mayor. Luckily the Commission did not decide to hire him as a lobbyist at yesterdays meeting.

I think the overall Re-con concept is good but when you dig into the politics, false claims and mismanagement it's not turning out very well.

For example, the Commission claims that they want to operate trains now to generate revenue to help fund the Commission. BUT they will only generate a couple-thousand dollars a year. Meanwhile one of their consultants has already charged $4000 to negotiate the operating contract with the V&T. That $4000 must be eclipsed by the time the Commission's lawyer (Mike Rowe, former Douglas DA) has spent.

Steve Stough posted this commentary on the Yahoo Group, I'm copying it here:

"Mound House is zoned industrial for a reason: To keep the industrial parks away from the rest of Carson City.

As I understand it, the number of rail fans per capita peaked in the 1950s, total numbers increased slightly in the 1960s, but have been slowly evaporating since. In speaking with experts, who are actually in the tourist tranportation business, it has been widely believed that rail fans are insufficient in number to even support occasional excursion trains anymore. I think this is borne out in practice, for example, the Western Maryland steam RR made its final run last year.

Facts are available or implicit for those who want to do the research:
Numbers of people who subscribe to modeling magazines, to Train magazine, and actual ridership numbers from existing rail operations could be found by the diligent. If such a compendium has already been
made, it would be nice to know about it."

Steve posts summaries of the Commission meetings at, the website of the Gold Hill Historical Society.

Jim Lohse

Sorry, somehow my comma is included with the link above and it doesn't work. Try again:

Jim Lohse

OK, one more bit of info...

A little more background on why the Commission doesn't want to put a real station in Mound House...

First, Project Engineer Ken Dorr says that to put a station there would require lots of planning and expensive environmental approvals and they want to move faster...

More to the point, the Commission has often beat up on Lyon County because they haven't contributed to the project. The Commission is very Carson-centric, and Carson City has paid the bulk of the money for the project. The Commission will not lift a finger to help Lyon County.

It's another long story but the Commission has never met the legal requirements that would trigger more payments from Lyon, Douglas and Washoe County, and at the same time they critize these counties for not paying more.

Lyon County will hardly benefit from the railroad project once it's finished. On the surface I do like the idea of some attraction in Mound House, but considering that just a couple miles up the road is Dayton, I don't see a pressing need.

Dayton is a wonderful history place with Guy Rocha backing up their claim as being the first settlement in Nevada. Since Mound House chose brothels and industrial parks for economic development, they're probably doing OK without a few railfans added to the mix.

Finally, unlike the Durango and Silverton, the reconstructed V&T is going to be an eyesore as it winds its way though Mound House. From junkyards to storage spaces to racetracks to gravel pits to brothels, the train operator will have to find something to distract the passengers attention from the un-lovely scenery during this segment of the trip.

Can you picture it, a little kid asking, "Daddy what's a brothel?"

Keep up the great blog you have here, thanks!

Ken Manz

One positive thing is that thanks in part to the fact that the V&T doesn't go through the middle of Mound House, it's not going by too much of the ugliest stuff on its way down to the canyon. I think the worst part about the trip would be smelling the dump.

Yeah, Carson's attitude sometimes... is a little... well. I hope this whole thing works out for them. If they do take a bath I hope they'll leave the tracks. Maybe someone can use them to start a real railroad.

Aaron Smith



RENO, NV—The Gold Hill Hotel, in Gold Hill, Nevada, has been listed for sale but will continue to operate as normal. The original hotel was built sometime before 1862, which makes Gold Hill Hotel the oldest operating hotel in Nevada. Since 1862, the Gold Hill Hotel has had many additions and remodels but hasn’t lost its authentic charm. The hotel guests take advantage of the grand views, crisp air, and the spirit of the old west.

The current owners have hired REALTORS® Aaron Smith, with Fennell & Associates Commercial Real Estate Solutions, and Jen McDonald with Dickson Realty to sell the property. The property is offered at $2.25 Million and includes the hotel and four other cottages and housing units. The hotel contains themed rooms, a restaurant, bar, great room, large rock fireplace, and gift shop. There is a gazebo and outdoor reception area, which are popular for weddings. The hotel hosts theatrical plays and special events, accommodating up to 125 people.

A complete history can be found at Aaron Smith can be reached at 775-850-3110 and Jen McDonald can be reached at 775-787-5207.

The comments to this entry are closed.