Virginia and Truckee Railroad

The Virginia and Truckee Railroad is a historic railway in Nevada, renowned for its role in transporting ore during the Comstock Lode mining boom of the late 19th century. The railroad connects Reno to Carson City and up to Virginia City and the mines of the Comstock Load, and down to the city of Minden, Nevada. The standard gauge rail consisted of about 60 miles and track. Today, much of the track is removed with a small railway offering passengers a historic experience between Carson City and Virginia City.

Built in 1872, the Virginia & Truckee No. 11, the “Reno” was the V&T’s first true passenger engine. It was the pride of the fleet, and was assigned to the pull the “Lightning Express,” the V&T’s premier train in the 1800s. The engine was damaged by a fire in 1995, and is currently undergoing restoration by the V&T.


Established in 1869, the V&T initially served as a means to transport silver ore from the mines of the Comstock Lode, located near Virginia City, to stamp mills in Carson City for processing. Its construction was driven by the need for efficient transportation of the abundant ore extracted from the rich silver mines of the region.

Under the direction of engineers like William Sharon and Theodore Judah, the V&T rapidly expanded its operations, stretching its lines to reach other mining towns such as Gold Hill and Dayton. The railroad’s success not only facilitated the transport of precious ore but also stimulated the growth of settlements along its route and provided essential passenger and freight services to the burgeoning communities of the Comstock.

The Crown Point Trestle crossed the Crown Point Ravine in Gold Hill. It was finished in November 1869, and stayed up until 1936. Here a Virginia City-bound train crosses the trestle in the 1880s.
The Crown Point Trestle crossed the Crown Point Ravine in Gold Hill. It was finished in November 1869, and stayed up until 1936. Here a Virginia City-bound train crosses the trestle in the 1880s.

The V&T gained renown for its engineering feats, including its crossing of the daunting Carson Range via the scenic and challenging Carson Pass route. The railroad’s iconic trestles, such as the 75-foot-high Crown Point Trestle, became symbols of the daring construction projects undertaken to connect Nevada’s mining districts.

Throughout its operational years, the V&T weathered various challenges, including economic downturns, labor disputes, and the decline of mining activities in the area. However, it continued to adapt and diversify its services, expanding into tourism and freight transportation beyond the mining industry.

The railroad faced a significant setback with the decline of the Comstock Lode and the subsequent closure of many mines in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. However, it found new life through tourism, offering scenic excursions through the picturesque landscapes of the Carson River Canyon and the Virginia City foothills.

In the mid-20th century, the V&T ceased its regular operations due to changing economic conditions and the rise of automobile travel. However, its legacy was preserved through the efforts of preservationists and enthusiasts who worked tirelessly to restore and maintain its historic routes, locomotives, and rolling stock.

The Railroad Today

Today, the Virginia and Truckee Railroad stands as a beloved historic attraction, offering visitors a glimpse into Nevada’s rich mining heritage and the golden age of railroading in the American West. Its meticulously restored steam locomotives, vintage passenger cars, and scenic journeys continue to captivate passengers, preserving the spirit of adventure and enterprise that defined the railroad’s illustrious past.

Virginia and Truckee Historic Route

Railroad Summary

NameVirginia and Truckee Railroad
LocationWashoe County,
Carson City,
Douglas County
LengthApproximately 60 miles
GaugeStandard Gauge – 4 feet 8.5 inches (1,435 mm)
Years of Operation1870 – 1950
1976 – Current


Genoa Station – Pony Express

Originally part of the Utah Territory, Genoa is a former Pony Express Station and unincorporated community in Douglas County, Nevada. The settlement was first founded in 1850 by Mormon Settlers when they founded the Mormon Station as a trading post for travelers bound for California. The original trading post operates in a roofless log enclosure built by H.S. Beatie and other Mormon settlers.

Simpson expedition, Genoa, Nevada, 1859
Simpson expedition, Genoa, Nevada, 1859

Travelers along the Carson Route to California could purchase supplies such clothing, tobacco, meat, canned goods, coffee, beans, sugar, flour and bacon. In 1852, the settlement hosts heavy emigrant traffic and a supports a post office, sawmills and blacksmith.

Pony Express

Most historical sources agree on the identity of Genoa as a station as well. However, James Pierson also identifies the site as the Old Mormon Station. The old post office also served as the station, which seems rather on point. The livery stable across the street supplied riders with fresh horses.

Much of Genoa, including the original fort, station, and hotel, was destroyed in a fire in 1910, but a replica of the fort was built in 1947. In 1976 the post office site was a vacant lot, and a picnic area occupied the livery stable location.

Nevada's first permanent building, Genoa trading post, established 1850
Nevada’s first permanent building, Genoa trading post, established 1850


Genoa is home to the oldest bar in the state of Nevada, which opened in 1853

Genoa Station Summary

NameGenoa Station
LocationDouglas County, Nevada
Latitude, Longitude39.0044, -119.8472
Other NamesMormon Station
Post Office1852 –
NewspaperTerritorial Enterprise (1858 – 1860)
NPS Station Number165
Next Westbound StationVan Sickle’s Station
Nest Eastbound StationCarson City Station


Van Sickle’s Station – Pony Express

The Van Sickle’s Station is the second Pony Express Station encountered when traveling east from Friday’s Station at the California/Nevada State Line. The Van Sickle Station is located at the bottom of Old Kingsbury Grade in Carson Valley.

Van Sickle's Station 1870
Van Sickle’s Station 1870

In 1857, rancher Henry Van Sickle built a two-story hotel to server traveler’s on their way to California. The building contained with a bar, kitchen and a store. The location is well suited as a rest stop before the climb over the high Sierra Nevada. The location served as a Pony Express in 1860, where the riders could stop to change horses. The National Park Service does not list this station on their website, so it’s active participation in the Pony Express could be in doubt. The National Pony Express Associate does list this location as a station for the pony express. This station may be on some lists as the riders would travel near the location, and it could serve as a navigation point.

Henry Van Sickle killed the outlaw and murderer Sam Brown on July 6th, 1860. Van Sickle is fully exonerated on July 8th, 1860, when the coroners jury found “Death by a just dispensation of an all-wise providence at his own expense”.

Over time, the hotel fell into disrepair and was eventually torn down in 1909.  Today, much of the history surrounding this property has been preserved in the current residence which was re-constructed in 1944 from the still standing stone store, warehouse, bar and blacksmith buildings of the original station, using the original hand-hewn beams and stone from the old quarry

Van Sickle’s Station Trail Map

Location Summary

NameVan Sickle’s Station
LocationDouglas County, Nevada
Latitude, Longitude38.9415, -119.8382
Next Westbound Station Friday’s Station
Next Eastbound StationGenoa Station


Friday’s Station – Pony Express

Friday’s Station is Union Army Military Post and Pony Express Station located near Lake Tahoe, in Douglas County, Nevada. The two story building is originally built as an inn and pony express station in 1860. The station is designated as a home station, where extra horses, firearms, men and provision are kept.

Friday's Station was a Pony Express station at Lake Tahoe - (Nevada Historical Society
Friday’s Station was a Pony Express station at Lake Tahoe – (Nevada Historical Society

Originally, the buildings are intended for the Union Army in the District of California. The location is chosen for the pony express due to its proximety to Lake Tahoe and the state line. Becuase of its location, the station is refered to as the “Lakeside Station” by some. In April, 1860, Robert (Pony Bob) Haslam made the first ride and shipment of mail from Sacramento at Friday’s Station and made his first run to Buckland’s Station, a distance of seventy five miles to the east.

Friday's Station with five freight teams and a prairie schooner arriving.
Friday’s Station with five freight teams and a prairie schooner arriving.

After the pony express failed, the property operated as a resort known as the “Buttermilk Bonanza Ranch.” Today, the original buildings still state and recognized as California Historical Landmark #728 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Location Map

Location Summary

NameFriday’s Station
LocationDouglas County, Nevada
Other NamesLakeside Station
Park Cattle Company Residence
Buttermilk Bonanza Ranch
Latitude, Longitude38.9639,  -119.9347
Elevation6,324 feet
California Historical Landmark728
National Register of Historic Places86003259
NPS Station Number166
Next Westbound Station
Next Eastbound StationVan Sickle’s Station


Nevada’s Birthplace – Nevada State Historic Marker 12

Founded in 1851, Carson City is Nevada’s Birthplace the state capitol of Nevada and the subject of Nevada State Historic Marker number 12. Carson City is a wonderful little city to visit with a lot of history to explore. The city features a very high density of Nevada State Historic Markers and is a must do if you are trying to visit the complete list.

Nevada's Birthplace Nevada State Historic Marker 12,  Carson City, NV
King Street, General View, 1880, Carson City, Carson City, NV

Nevada’s Birthplace – Nevada State Historic Marker 12 Text

Nevada State Historical Markers identify significant places of interest in Nevada’s history. The Nevada State Legislature started the program in 1967 to bring the state’s heritage to the public’s attention with on-site markers. These roadside markers bring attention to the places, people, and events that make up Nevada’s heritage. They are as diverse as the counties they are located within and range from the typical mining boom and bust town to the largest and most accessible petroglyph sites in Northern Nevada Budget cuts to the program caused the program to become dormant in 2009. Many of the markers are lost or damaged.

Carson Valley is the Birthplace of Nevada.  By 1851, people settled at a place they called Mormon Station, renamed Genoa in 1856.  With the early establishment of a post office and local government, the community can lay claim to the title of “Nevada’s first town.”

Thousands of emigrants moved over the old road skirting the west bank of the Carson River as they prepared to cross the Sierra, feeding their livestock on grass cut along the river.  At Genoa; at Mottsville, settled in 1852; and at Sheridan, settled by Moses Job about ’54; emigrants stopped to enjoy produce of the region’s first gardens.  Pony Express riders used this route in 1860, switching a year later to the shorter Daggett Trail, now Kingsbury Grade.


Nevada State Historic Marker 12 Summary

NameNevada’s Birthplace
LocationDouglas County, Nevada
Latitude, Longitude39.0038, -119.7604
Nevada State Historic Marker12

Nevada State Historic Marker 12 Trail Map