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Tesla to the Virginia and Truckee Railway, Virginia City, Nevada
Tesla 1,000-mile round trip to ride the Virginia and Truckee Railway

September 24, 2023

Photos and Report by Carl Morrison, Carl @



Tesla Trekking up Hwy. 395 from Placentia, Orange County, California, for a few days in South Tahoe, Nevada, we decided to travel into Nevada for a ride on the Virginia and Truckee Railway.

Headquartered in Virginia City, Nevada, the Virginia and Truckee (V&T) Railroad is one of the most famous short lines in the history of the United States, so much so that it uses the service mark ‘The Queen of Short Lines’. The railroad operated until 1950 and then was dormant for more than two decades. But in 1972, private owners began the process to reopen V&T as a heritage railroad; and in 1976, trains would resume operating. Shortly thereafter, they acquired a mainstay for the line, Virginia and Truckee #29.

The Virginia and Truckee Railroad is a privately owned heritage railroad, headquartered in Virginia City, Nevada. Its private and publicly owned route is 14 miles (23 km) long. When first constructed in the 19th century, it was a commercial freight railroad (reporting mark VT) which was originally built to serve the Comstock Lode mining communities of northwestern Nevada.

At its height, the railroad's route ran from Reno south to the state capital at Carson City. In Carson City, the mainline split into two branches. One branch continued south to Minden, while the other branch traveled east to Virginia City. The first section from Virginia City to Carson City was constructed beginning in 1869 to haul ore, lumber and supplies for the Comstock Lode silver mines. The railroad was abandoned in 1950 after years of declining revenue. Much of the track was pulled up and sold, along with the remaining locomotives and cars. In the 1970s, with public interest in historic railroads on the rise, efforts began to rebuild the line. The portion from Virginia City and Gold Hill has been rebuilt by private interests, and is operated separately from a portion from Gold Hill to Mound House, that was rebuilt with public funding and private donations.


Table of Contents

I.     Virginia and Truckee Railway Ride  to Gold Hill
II.    Virginia and Truckee Railway Shop Tour
III.  Tesla 1,000-mile round trip Orange County, California, to Virginia City, Nevada


I.  Virginia and Truckee Railway Ride  to Gold Hill

As "Railfan Luck" would have it, as we entered town from the south on Hwy 342, we were the first car in line at the gate to see an earlier trip to Gold Hill pass before us on its way back to the station.

We proceeded through town then turned right, downhill, for a couple of blocks then back west to the station.

The station is west of St. Mary of the Mountains Catholic Church.

Their website says:  St. Mary In the Mountains is the oldest active Catholic church in Nevada. We offer a world-class museum, and a well-stocked gift shop with many religious items.

Come in and say a prayer, light a candle, and enjoy the peacefulness of this magnificent house of God.

111 S E St. Virginia City, NV 89440   |   P.O. Box 510, Virginia City, NV 89440  (775) 847-9099

Plenty of free parking across the street from the depot.

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We arrived just as the previous trip returned; but we had time to go into the Ticket Office/Gift Shop to pick up our tickets.

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Left, In the gift shop/ticket office, Bibi handed us our tickets and I peeked into the adjacent waiting room.

A couple of historic books available in the gift shop.

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Items available in the gift shop (Double click for a larger image.) I like the original route on the red shirt.


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The Reno and its story. 
(Double click for a larger image.).

The Reno and current motivation in the background.

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Interesting artifacts on the property.

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Right, Art Director  at

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Yours truly and Events of the year. 
(Double click for a larger image.)

Soon it was time to board with Conductor Neil's call of "All Aboard".  Passengers could select either car for seating.

Open-air seating

Or covered seating available.  I liked the bay window of this car for photography.

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Left, with no local wye nor turntable, we journeyed to Gold Hill in push mode.  Neil pointed out large distant mine tailings.

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Large structure, left, was for ore cars to be pushed above railroad cars
and dumped then the ore hauled for processing in Carson City, Nevada.  Our train went through this tunnel, right, on the way to Gold Hill.  Another tunnel had been skyed.
The town of Gold Hill below and mine shafts and tailings above.  We would proceed on this track through a 14 degree turn at 5% grade to reach the tracks you see on the far canyon wall.

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Historic buildings in Gold Hill below.  Hwy. 342 runs through town and up to Virginia City.

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Left, bell from former fire house.  Right, Gold Hill RR station.

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Left, shute for ore to be loaded from mine to RR cars.  Right, wheels for lift to bring ore from vertical mine below where 36 miners died from a mine fire that burned for 2 years.

Locomotive pulling us back up the 5% grade to the depot, a 35 minute round trip ride.

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Right, Neil gave an excellent narration of our trip as we passed, left, the V and T Shops, which we would visit after our ride.

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Other sights heading back to Virginia City Depot.

Back to the Table of Contents

II.   Virginia and Truckee Railway Shop Tour

Tom invited us to visit the shops when we picked up our tickets.  We drove south of the depot to do just that when we heard the whistle of the next tour heading our way.  We stopped and I set up to make a video of the train passing in push mode heading to Gold Hill just as we had done earlier.

Virginia and Truckee Railway's diesel electric passing their shop's gate on the way to Gold Hill

(Another route to the video above: )

We parked near these two ancient coaches and I again realized the dedication and work it takes for decades to keep a tourist railroad or rail museum going.

This is the older of the two coaches with its raised center roof with windows.

Tom was especially proud of No. 29 at the shops


A Brief History of the Virginia and Truckee #29

Locomotive #29 is a Consolidation type steam locomotive (wheel arrangement: 2-8-0). It was built by Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1916. It was initially numbered #252 and operated under the ownership of Louisiana and Pacific Railroad. She operated on the railroad until 1926 when Mount Hope Mining Inc. in Longview, Washington, purchased the locomotive and and renamed her #3. The locomotive was later sold to Portland and Northern Railroad and was numbered #680.

This steam locomotive stayed in Portland until 1977 when it was sold to Bob Gray who brought it to the Virginia and Truckee Railroad. Gray led the group that was responsible for giving the railway a second life. It was renumbered #29, but is also often referred to as ‘Robert C. Gray’ in honor of Bob, and has been operating on the railroad ever since.

Current Status

After an in-depth restoration process that lasted between 2001 and 2008, #29 is currently the leading steam locomotive at the “new” Virginia and Truckee Railroad. The train travels on two different routes on the historic railroad that was constructed in 1870. When riding on this steam locomotive, you’ll travel through various tunnels and abandoned mines on a 35-minute roundtrip excursion.

The railroad operates daily from May to October but typically reserves steam locomotive excursions for weekends. Due to limited capacity, V&T encourages passengers to purchase tickets as early as possible. You can visit the Virginia and Truckee website for schedule and special event information, to purchase tickets, and more.

No. 29 is the latest in a long line of V&T locomotives to appear in films, as equipment from the original V&T frequently appeared in westerns by Desilu Productions. As of June 2022, the Pullmans are still wearing their movie colors, while No. 29 was quickly given its old identity back upon its return..



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Other rolling stock outside the shops
More descriptions at:

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Thanks, Virginia and Truckee Railway, for an excellent day at your venue!

For more photos of a No. 29 steam excursion and cab ride at V and T Railway, check out my 2021 report at:

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III.  Tesla 1,000-mile round trip Orange County, California, to Virginia City, Nevada

This week in Lake Tahoe/Virginia City was the middle of three Tesla driving trips that Sue and I took in 2 months to 3 different states -  Arizona, Nevada, and California.

The Virginia and Truckee photos above were just one day of this trip.

We drove a Tesla Model Y Long Distance almost 500 miles from Orange County to South Lake Tahoe making four  charging stops.  We recalculated our stops for our return trip down Hwy. 395 and decided we could do just fine with 2 Tesla Supercharger stops for the same distance.

The Tesla Supercharger stops on the trip north from Orange County, California to Stateline, Nevada:

Inyokern Tesla Supercharger:

Inyokern Tesla Supercharger now has two locations.  The original 4 chargers 150 kW are behind the red roofed store in the background of the photo above.
  A couple of years ago 12 new 250 kW cabinets were added, in the foreground of the photo above, behind the Classic Burger store.

This is a closeup of the Rivian Charger screen indicating that charging is FREE.  Adjacent were a couple of generic chargers by Rivian.  At this point I have never seen a Rivian charging here.

These are the 12 new 250 kW Tesla Supercharger cabinets behind the Classic Burger store in Inyokern.

At this point we still thought these were the restrooms for all the Tesla Superchargers.

Second charge stop was at the Lone Pine, California's new superchargers.  This site has been upgraded to 16 cabinets, some are 250 kW and moved a bit farther back on the Western Movie Museum grounds.

The Lone Pine Tesla Superchargers are behind this western movie museum.  Take the paved alley on the left of the museum or the dirt alley on the right.  No need to pull onto the museum property.

This is the only sign I've seen for a Tesla Supercharging station.  Beyond the tumbleweeds you can see the chargers!  We like this stop because it is within one block walking distance to MacDonald's for snacks and restrooms.  While charging, keep your Tesla App on to know when your car has enough charge for the next destination so you do not get "idle fees".  If you need time to get back to your car, on the app raise the charge level.


Next stop, Gardnerville, California which is actually at the California/Nevada state line - far from the town of Gardnerville.  Six Superchargers, available 24/7, up to 150kW.  It is located at the Topaz Lake Lodge, between the Chevron station and Hwy. 395.

There are always few Tesla's charging here.  It was dusk and the lights at the Supercharger were on.

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A couple of trees, right, were showing fall colors as well as goldenrod bushes in bloom.

We stayed in Stateline, Nevada, at Holiday Inn Vacations The Ridge Resort.  The photo above shows the resort  on the hill and the Stateline Express lift and run within walking distance.  However, an important reason for staying at The Ridge Resort was that they have Tesla domestic chargers in each of their 6 or more buildings at this location.  In addition, if the Tesla chargers are in use, you can use the J1772 adapter and use the generic charger, or go to an adjacent building and see if that Tesla charger is in use.

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The Ridge Resort's generic charger, left.  Using it to charge our Tesla with the J1772 adapter that came with the 2021 Tesla Y.

Our second night at The Ridge Resort, I found both chargers in our building being used.  Remembering that the registration desk had mentioned that all of their 6 or more buildings each had EV chargers, I checked the nearest building and found their lone Tesla charger was not being used, so I plugged in for a three-hour recharge then I moved our car back to our building.

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While staying at The Ridge Resort in Stateline, Nevada, I took a photo of our Model Y next to a ski run.

Virginia City, Nevada to Orange County, California down Hwy. 395.

The A Better Route Planner software map for that 2-charging-stop back home follows:

In the A Better Route Planner itinerary above, pay no attention to the time of day since A Better Route Planner calculates the time based on the time you are planning the trip.  More meaningful are the numbers on the right as to miles to the next charge, time to the next charge, arrival State of Charge, and departure State of Charge to make it to the next charge.

After our stay in Stateline, Nevada, we headed down Hwy. 395 for home with only two planned stops for the  462 mile journey.  We left with 282 miles of range from the free Tesla charger at The Ridge Resort.  Beautiful fall weather with temperatures ranging from 78 degrees to 82 degrees.

As we neared the summit south of Bridgeport, California, I wanted a photo of the fall colors but my wife was asleep.  I had Autopilot on and knowing I had 30 seconds  to take the photo before the Tesla would warn me to keep torque pressure on the steering wheel, I was able to take this photo out the passenger window.

Nearing Mammoth the first week in October, there was still considerable snow on the Sierra mountaintops.

Our first Tesla Supercharger stop on this return trip to home after 170 miles of driving was in Bishop.  There are two Tesla Superchargers in Bishop.  We chose the one at 151 South Warren Street, with 12 Superchargers, available 24/7, up to 250kW.  While plugging in, we met a nice couple who had owned a Model S since 2012.  They drove regularly between Palm Springs and Lake Tahoe always using Hwy. 395 and are more than happy about the Tesla Supercharging network.  They mentioned the market, below right, across the street for restrooms and even outside dining.

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I've begun leaving Dog Mode on when I leave the car when it is relatively hot outside.  While I am away from the car the image, upper left, comes on the screen to keep someone from breaking the window to rescue the invisible dog.

Near Independence, California on Hwy. 395, we began to see smoke, but found out it was a controlled burn.

Our second and final Tesla Charging  stop was Inyokern.  This was the first time since we had been here, since the Rivian chargers were installed, that I actually saw a Rivian charging here.  We had a nice visit with owners Neil and Theresa from Huntington Beach who were taking advantage of the free charging.  They liked their new Rivian and were looking forward to being able to charge on the Tesla Supercharging network.  They mentioned that they tow a boat with the Rivian.  Since these new chargers were behind the Classic Burger, we found out that this set of chargers were on their land and they provide restrooms with outside access for those using the chargers.


Knowing many eating establishments often decorate with local art and photography, I wondered if  this art piece had been based on Hwy. 395.

The artists  signature and date.

Inyokern bathrooms for use by newer EV charger users.

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Charging log for the trip to and from South Lake Tahoe.
We are finding that we have to stop more often to eat and/or use the restroom than our long distance Tesla has to stop for a charge.

Thus ended another 1,000-mile trip in our Tesla with no "range anxiety" because Tesla is adding Superchargers and even upgrading old ones to 250W output with quicker turnover at Supercharger spots.

Back to the Table of Contents


A  Better Route Planner that I use to plan my Tesla Supercharger stops.

Virginia and Truckee Railway:

South Lake Tahoe accommodations with EV chargers:  Tahoe Ridge Resort

[ Top of this report | My 2021 Report on the Virginia and Truckee Railway with No. 29 on the point. | My other TeslaTouring Reports ]|