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 Post subject: Nevada Northern News
PostPosted: Thu Oct 14, 2021 7:30 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:07 am
Posts: 729
Location: Philadelphia Pa
While East Broad Top is getting a new life on the East Coast, out West, it's counterpart (in terms of historical fabric being complete) is getting its share of boosting.

While I've seen little on here regarding the completion of the restoration of their 2-8-0 #81 to service, it is done, and up and running now....it hasn't run since the 1950s, much like EBT's #16

Now, this News was recently shared:

"It is OFFICIAL! White Pine County has been awarded a $10,168,421 Southern Nevada Public Lands Management Grant (SNPLMA) grant to open the Nevada Northern Railway track to the McGill Depot!

The project is multi-faceted:
• Rehabilitate and restore to operation 16.35 miles of historic railroad track from Ely to McGill Nevada, including the highway railroad crossings to Federal Railroad Administration Class 2 standards.
• Complete the McGill Depot restoration to include three restrooms.
• Build a parking lot at the McGill Depot 10,000-15,000 square feet with lighting.
• Build a railroad turntable at the McGill Depot to turn the locomotives around.
• Build a .5 to a .8 mile lighted walking trail with outdoor displays at the McGill Depot area.
• Combine the existing trail system parallel to the railroad’s right-of-way with six designated safe crossings of the railroad track.
• Grade 10,000 feet of a multiuse trail within the railroad right of way between Ely & McGill joining existing trails located on BLM land.
• Purchase four electric-railbikes.
• Install directional signage for trail users along the trail system.

The video was video created by Tom Lynskey, https://www.youtube.com/parttimeexplorer. The video is taken at approximately at the height of a steam locomotive’s cab with a drone. He flew it following the railroad tracks into and out of the McGill depot. This really helps to imagine what it'll be like when that line is operational again! He also overlaid the sounds of Locomotive 93 steaming along for added effect.

With a little luck, trains will actually be returning to the McGill Depot in 18-24 months!

And a BIG THANK YOU to all of you who took the time to send emails to the SNPLMA board. Our project was not recommended for full funding. And thanks to YOU, it was fully funded!

The Nevada Northern Railway Museum (NNRY) is a designated National Historic Landmark in Ely, Nevada offering passenger train rides pulled by century-old steam engines. NNRY lets guests step back in time for a day of adventure and was voted the state’s Best Rural Museum and Best Place to Take the Kids by readers of Nevada Magazine. Nationally recognized for its mechanical intricacies, rich history and whimsical atmosphere, NNRY has been featured on Modern Marvels, American Restoration, Pawn Stars, Great Scenic Railway Journeys on PBS and it was mentioned on CBS’s Big Bang Theory. To book a tour or learn more on the railway’s history, educational and philanthropic efforts, call 775-289-2085, log onto NNRY.com"


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 Post subject: Re: Nevada Northern News
PostPosted: Thu Oct 14, 2021 10:58 am 

Joined: Sat May 07, 2016 1:12 am
Posts: 136
From the little I know of the NN, does this mean they are finally getting in a rebuild and expand mentality? Its high and dry so one can assume track rehab wouldn't be as tedious as other places


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 Post subject: Re: Nevada Northern News
PostPosted: Thu Oct 14, 2021 4:40 pm 

Joined: Wed Sep 06, 2017 11:33 am
Posts: 165
JayZee wrote:
From the little I know of the NN, does this mean they are finally getting in a rebuild and expand mentality? Its high and dry so one can assume track rehab wouldn't be as tedious as other places


The Nevada Northern has long eyed restoring more track, but the reasons for not approaching it yet are simple; that $10 million price tag required a large grant money just for 16 miles to be restored, only a small portion of which is the mainline and the rest a branchline.

Image

The map of the full NN system shows what it was at its length, for context the parts that are regularly operational are the line from East Ely to Ruth, and the 'High Line' from East Ely leading towards top McGill (what would have been the track lead into the smelter site). The High Line though due to its isolated nature is really only used for photo charters or their night sky trains. The restoration to McGill station will be restoring the mainline up to the branch junction, then the branch that leads to the station and the abandoned smelter site. The Shafter to Cobre section will likely never see service again, and I believe it is not owned by the modern Nevada Northern.

The only other segment of track still operational is at Shafter, which was restored for the NN to gain passive income via car storage leased through S&S. Everything else from just south of Shafter down to the McGill junction will still be out of commission with this announcement. It would likely be in the hundreds of millions to restore that track, and would likely require either a massive grant or a private business willing to invest to reopen the line for freight service. I have heard rumors the NN has turned down a state offer similar to what restored the V&T to Mound House, since they want to keep the full NN control in Ely and not have to split it with politicians in Carson City; but I don't know if those rumors hold true.

Arguably the expansion era of the NN has been long in action in preserving what it already had, spending decades restoring and stabilizing structures in East Ely yard, bringing its steam engines back into service, and preparing for the now ongoing repatriation of the diesels to Ely. Now that 81 and 93 are both in service, the original diesels are almost home, and 40 just has its 15 year rebuild on docket and the yard buildings are almost all stable and reopened, it makes a lot of sense now to expand out for larger track.

There are plenty of other rumors of projects the NN is also investigating right now, but I won't share those since that would be borderline speculation. But things have always been very busy in Ely and it seems they have no intent to stop now.


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 Post subject: Re: Nevada Northern News
PostPosted: Sat Oct 16, 2021 12:33 am 

Joined: Sat May 07, 2016 1:12 am
Posts: 136
Hearing that is some of the little good news that 2021 brought me so far. The NN and EBT always were icons of irreplaceable value to steam era railroading. I prefer not to speculate or be a nuisance. For many years I have had many questions about the overall strategy of the NN. You filled in many of those long standing questions. Where else could they extend the rebuilt line to? Currie perhaps but is there much in way for passenger wants and such? Like the EBT the NN seems to have to tackle the secluded area that allowed its survival to appeal to tourists.


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 Post subject: Re: Nevada Northern News
PostPosted: Sat Oct 16, 2021 8:31 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:19 am
Posts: 6101
Location: southeastern USA
Well, there's a balance needed to be struck between the desire and cost of rebuilding and maintaining miles of track that might not be of practical value in terms of providing a marketable visitor experience. This is something the EBT has probably already considered given the quality of their brain trust, and has already been expressed in reality at Cass and V&T. Might even take CATS, D&S, GCRR and the White Pass into the mix as well.

_________________
“Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self-esteem, first make sure that you are not, in fact, just surrounded by anuses.” William Rogers


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 Post subject: Re: Nevada Northern News
PostPosted: Sat Oct 16, 2021 8:54 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 5:19 pm
Posts: 2175
Location: Sackets Harbor, NY
This is a MAJOR step forward for the NN.

I have long admired Mark Bassett's tireless efforts to promote this gem of a property and thanks in large part to him, overcome its extreme remoteness.

I took the wife with me to pay a visit to the NN a few years back and she must have asked at least 5 times " are we there yet?? ".

There's lots of miles at 80 mph that you see nothing but tumbleweed and desert.

Congratulations Mark. Keep up the good work.


Ross Rowland


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 Post subject: Re: Nevada Northern News
PostPosted: Sat Oct 16, 2021 11:26 am 

Joined: Sat Mar 05, 2005 2:46 am
Posts: 125
Location: Elko, NV
Since the rest of the main line north of McGill Junction has been brought up, some updates to that are in order. Back in 2005 Los Angeles Department of Water & Power deeded the 127.9 miles of the main line between the end of museum owned trackage at McGill Junction north to Cobre to the Nevada Northern Railway Foundation and the City of Ely, very shortly afterwards Nevada's congressional delegation got some language in a big transportation bill that conveyed all public land within the NNRy right-of-way to those same entities. Around 2008 or 2009 the Foundation and City leased that entire line to S&S Shortline Leasing, which filed for authority with the Surface Transportation Board to provide common carrier service on that line. At about that same time the Foundation/Museum created a common carrier of its own, the Great Basin & Northern Railroad, which filed for authority to provide common carrier service on the museum trackage.

Shortly after S&S got the lease they brought in a couple pieces of track equipment which they used to do some brush removal and minor tamping and leveling work on the line from Shafter to Currie, where NDOT had long since paved over the crossing. S&S bought a GE 45-ton switcher with a long and colorful history from Port of Tillamook Bay, it got delivered to Currie and to my knowledge them running it north to Shafter is the only time anything other than track equipment has made that run since S&S started up, though around 2010 they did shove a couple hundred covered hoppers down the main line to the area of the Dolly Varden station site where they were stored for several months before all being taken back north to Shafter.

In 2011 Michael Williams, owner of Railroad Materials Salvage and a varying collection of shortline railroad operated under the Midwest Pacific Rail Net & Logistics Company, bought S&S and continued the car storage business. Relationships between Williams and the Foundation/City apparently broke down fairly quickly, as around 2015 the Foundation/City filed a lawsuit against S&S, who countersued, and the two parties spent the next five years or so embroiled in some very contentious and expensive litigation. Around 2019 Williams proposed a settlement agreement under which the Foundation/City would sell the main line between Cobre and Milepost 127 to him in exchange for both parties withdrawing all legal claims against the other, the details took a year to work out but all parties signed that settlement agreement in November 2020. The Settlement agreement and a whole lot of other supporting documents are available on the STB website at the following link, the Agreement itself is Pages 14-56 of the attached PDF document, followed by many other related and supporting documents:

https://dcms-external.s3.amazonaws.com/ ... 301281.pdf

The Foundation/City are retaining the 0.9 miles of track between Mileposts 127 and 127.9, as such the Great Basin & Northern filed around this same time to replace S&S as operator of that line.

On 29 September of this year, and after a lot of back and forth between Williams and the STB, that body rejected Williams' application to buy S&S, and the S&S application to buy the line from the City/Foundation, along with another Williams transaction. That Decision on the STB website is at the following link:

https://dcms-external.s3.amazonaws.com/ ... /50762.pdf

The car storage at Shafter continues, as of yesterday there were about 100 cars in the old NN Shafter yard, evenly split between two bay covered hoppers and old Amtrak express service boxcars. There were many times that number of cars earlier this year but they have all been cleared except for those.

Jeff Moore
Elko, NV


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 Post subject: Re: Nevada Northern News
PostPosted: Sat Oct 16, 2021 6:15 pm 

Joined: Wed Dec 24, 2014 3:15 pm
Posts: 471
I just hope that the organizations don’t bite off more than they can chew if they eventually do go further and further down the main line. Compared to the EBT, which is the middle of figurative nowhere, the NN that I know of is in the middle of literal nowhere. I just don’t know if there’s any real places of interest on the line past McGill.

With the EBT, you have several places of interest in a potential Orbisonia-Robertsdale operation outside of the already named two termini. Three Springs for its municipal pool, Saltillo as a staging point for going up the mountain, Coles for the water tank and for Coles Curve, Rocky Ridge for the tunnel and bridge. With the NN, I just don’t know any place like that. Correct me if I’m wrong but it just looks like it’s all ghost towns, and regardless if trains ever get to Shafter or Cobre, there’s nothing in either location.


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 Post subject: Re: Nevada Northern News
PostPosted: Sat Oct 16, 2021 7:01 pm 

Joined: Wed Sep 06, 2017 11:33 am
Posts: 165
Steamguy73 wrote:
I just hope that the organizations don’t bite off more than they can chew if they eventually do go further and further down the main line. Compared to the EBT, which is the middle of figurative nowhere, the NN that I know of is in the middle of literal nowhere. I just don’t know if there’s any real places of interest on the line past McGill.

With the EBT, you have several places of interest in a potential Orbisonia-Robertsdale operation outside of the already named two termini. Three Springs for its municipal pool, Saltillo as a staging point for going up the mountain, Coles for the water tank and for Coles Curve, Rocky Ridge for the tunnel and bridge. With the NN, I just don’t know any place like that. Correct me if I’m wrong but it just looks like it’s all ghost towns, and regardless if trains ever get to Shafter or Cobre, there’s nothing in either location.


Ghost towns alone would certainly be of interest to many western history and culture fans, Currie has a depot still standing for example that would make for an interesting sight. Arguably its no more in the middle of nowhere than say... Osier, Colorado.

However depending on how the whole STB and S&S stuff gets sorted out, the goal might never be TO run tourist trains north of McGill excepting the rare special event anyways. It seems the main goal would be a resumption of freight service with the intent of capturing the mine traffic again.


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