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Inventory of the Nevada Railroads Records
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  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Chronology

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Nevada Railroads Records
    Repository: The Huntington Library
    San Marino, California 91108
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information


    Collection is open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information please go to following URL .

    Publication Rights

    In order to quote from, publish, or reproduce any of the manuscripts or visual materials, researchers must obtain formal permission from the office of the Library Director. In most instances, permission is given by the Huntington as owner of the physical property rights only, and researchers must also obtain permission from the holder of the literary rights. In some instances, the Huntington owns the literary rights, as well as the physical property rights. Researchers may contact the appropriate curator for further information.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Nevada Railroads Records, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.


    Among the great names produced by Nevada's Comstock Lode are Adolph Sutro, Virginia & Truckee and the ring (William C. Ralston, Darius O. Mills and William Sharon) who owned the Bank of California. Sharon was the bank's representative in the Comstock. Ralston was the power behind the bank although he assumed only the modest title of cashier.
    Adolph Sutro first came to the Comstock from San Francisco in 1860. He envisioned the great wealth to come from the Lode and conceived the idea that the most economical method of developing the mines was to drive a tunnel, nearly four miles in length, from the floor of Carson Valley, under the mines, then sink the mine shafts to meet it and remove the ore and drain the water from the mines through the tunnel instead of lifting to the surface.
    Sutro with a small amount of money, on October 18, 1865, started work on the tunnel, but met with great difficulty in financing it, and the opposition of the powerful Bank of California, although Ralston had at first approved the project.
    Ralston desired to control every part of the Comstock. He made loans to the mills at lower rates than his competitors, foreclosed when they were unable to pay, and thus the bank became the owner of the principal mills situated along the banks of the Carson River.
    Sharon proposed building a railroad from the Comstock to the Carson River to haul the ore to the bank's mills and on the return trip take up the enormous quantities of timber needed for shoring in the mines and wood for fuel for the steam engines.
    Sharon's proposal was accepted and he with Ralston and Mills organized the Virginia and Truckee Railroad Company and in 1868 the line was built from Virginia to Carson, a distance of 21 miles.
    To connect with the Central Pacific Railroad at Reno the line, in 1872 was extended to the banks of the Truckee River at Reno, a distance of 31 miles.
    H. M. Yerington who had been a mill owner but who had lost out to the Bank of California was employed as General Superintendent which post he held for many years until his death.
    In 1876 a branch to Genoa was located, but never built.
    On July 8, 1878 after fourteen years of untiring labor and overcoming opposition, Sutro completed the tunnel.
    To connect the Virginia and Truckee with the then booming mining towns of Hawthorne, Candeleria, Bodie, Aurora and Benton, the Carson and Colorado Railroad, three foot narrow gauge, ws built in 1881-1883 from Mound House, nine miles east of Carson on the Virginia and Truckee, to Hawley (later Keeler) California, a distance of 293 miles. Originally it was intended that the railroad extend to the Colorado River, but it was never built farther than Hawley.
    The Carson and Colorado Railroad was sold to the Southern Pacific Railroad in 1900.
    In 1906 a branch from Carson to Minden, a distance of 15 miles, was built.
    The line from Virginia to Carson was abandoned c. 1938.
    On May 31, 1950 the Virginia and Truckee Railroad was completely abandoned.