V&T Caboose No. 24
At The Depot
No. 24 Today
Briskly trailing through Stewart, Nevada, Caboose‑Coach No. 24 and its morning train are starkly silhouetted against a crystal sky in May of 1950 while traversing the now legendary rails of the Virginia & Truckee Railway. Salvaged secondhand upon the folding of the nearby Nevada Copper Belt Railway, the gaily painted caboose provided daily V&T accommodations for the requirements of eager passengers, light baggage and the paperwork and affairs of freight and passenger conductors while rounding out a distinguished roster of twenty‑four all‑time pieces of period Virginia & Truckee passenger equipment.
The Virginia & Truckee Railroad Company was formed in March 1868, as the successful heir to over half a dozen similarly conceived yet defaulting projects. The V&T's 52.20 mile main line of initially 56 l1b. iron rails imported from England connected Virginia City and Reno, Nevada, via Carson City. The standard gauged rail route quickly became the transportation backbone of the now world famous Comstock Lode centered around Virginia City. Financed in part by voluminous freight revenues from ore and wood traffic, the V&T Railroad was quickly able to build up an impressive, yet refined, fleet of unusually well‑appointed and often custom made passenger coaches in an era which strongly felt the influence of elegant Victorian decor.
Caboose‑Coach No. 24 first saw service on the neighboring Nevada Copper Belt Ry. as their red Waycar‑Caboose No. 3. With the cessation of NCB operations over the sole 37.8 mile line between Ludwig and Wabuska, the Caboose was purchased in April 1947, under the auspices of V&T Vice President Gordon Sampson. Briefly stored at Carson City, the 30 foot wood body with steel under frame car was finally added to the Virginia & Truckee's active passenger fleet late in 1947 with a bright red promotional slogan painted on its yellow sides reading "Ship via Nevada's famous V&T Railway."
Following the final close of the V&T in May 1950, the colorful Caboose was left intact for the people of Nevada, however, it was several years before the car was at last prominently placed on display in the center of town on the lawn of the Carson City Post Office being the only such attraction on a federal post office area in the United States. Completely refurbished late in 1972, No. 24 continues to serve as a valuable community asset in the form of a public office of the Carson Chamber of Commerce in front of the newly designated home of the Nevada State Library. Because of its unusual yet distinctive character, the Caboose‑Coach has been reproduced in thousands of scale model kits and banks and has become symbolic of the unique fame of Nevada's legendary V&T Railway.
Pictured churning far up ahead of No. 24 is Virginia & Truckee 1913 vintage Baldwin‑built ten‑wheeler No. 27 together with coaches 23 and 18 in tow. Having just left the peaceful Indian settlement of Stewart, the V&T's morning mixed train is photographed amidst the enhancing green flora of a spring Nevada landscape as the consist drifts serenely south towards the farming community of Minden.
TEXT BY STEPHEN E. DREW
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Modified Monday December 08, 2008