On the left, the card players enjoying
the Silver Lariat downstairs lounge. Right, William stops by to
On the descent to Reno, the railroad
follows the Truckee River. After lunch, Chris Skow invited
certain passengers to the
press conference in the rear lounge of the Silver Solarium. Mr.
Skow had a 26 year career as a conductor for WP and
also stood in for Rick Silver from RailPAC. First, Chris went
over a brief history of the Western Pacific Railroad, then segued into
RailPAC, which has
around 15 projects for the California and Nevada region. They
have lots on the adjenda for rail service including some plans to
Corridor trains to Reno and reintroduction of passenger train service
Tehachipi. Pure PV tours are expensive and difficult to put
they typically cost $50,000 to $75,000 per day. Next year is the
anniversary of the Golden Spike for the Feather River Route and the
60th anniversary of the California Zephyr. According to Chris
Skow, in its last 10 years, the California Zephyr did healthy
business in the sumer time, but was empty in the winter time. The
Denver and Rio Grande Railroad did not participate in Amtrak, and 10
gave up its own passenger trains.
According to Bert
Hermey, there are about 125 Amtrak certified PV's in the US. Most
of them are available for charter in most of the US. TUT runs
tours of PV's over Donner 3 or 4 times per year. In first class
train travel, meals, drinks, flowers, stemware and linen are part of
Chris then introduced Eugene
Vicknair from the Western Pacific Railroad Museum.
According to Eugene Vicknair, Secretary of the
WPRR museum, the CZ was very innovative in passenger train travel as it
was designed to be a cruise on rails. The CZ was dreamed up as a
vacation, not a destination. It was never included in the U.S.
mail delivery system. The CZ had the mountain scenery
scheduled for daylight and the plains and desert for night
travel. These CZ dome
cars are still offering vacations. The UP railroad tracks through
Donner Pass are more open in the wintertime as compared to the
interstate 80 over/through Donner.
Finally, we are back in civilization
again, going from riverside to subterranean travel.
This concrete trench separates railroad and surface street vehicular
traffic. The rail line passes through downtown Reno, "The Biggest
Little City in the World." The city has less noise from train
horns and train speeds can be increased through this location.
Could this be hell? I feel I am between Reno and Sparks.
Ahead is the Nugget, with a view over the former Southern Pacific
Sparks rail yard.
Below is a view of one of the staterooms aboard the Silver Solarium.
Various members of the on board staff
pose in the Silver Lariat. Servers John McClelland, William Hall,
Sharloyn Reed and Steward George Lewis shown below left. Silver
Solarium had Cilff McDaniel and Norman Bradley aboard. George and
one of the others have 20 or more years working at the Bohemian Club
serving political elite and sucessful businessman. George had
a humorous story about a Republican ex-president who ditched the secret
service bodyguards. There is at least one locomotive paint job
dedicated to this same person.
Amtrak supervises the uncoupling of the Domes
over Donner PV cars.
A last wave goodbye from Cilfford.
This trip included a 2 night one day layover in the Reno/Sparks
area. Most passengers detrained in Reno while I chose to continue
the four miles to Sparks. The plan was to take a passenger van to
Portola the next morning to visit the Western Pacific Railroad Museum.
Western Pacific Railroad Museum Visit
Domes Through Donner Return Trip