The Nevada Northern Railway is set to host the 43rd annual Nevada Railway Symposium Sept. 19-21. The symposium, originally held in Carson City for 39 years, moved to Ely prior to its 40th anniversary.
“Because of budget cuts and everything, they were going to drop it,” NNRy Executive Director Mark Bassett said. “I thought that would be a real shame to lose it after 39 years and we just had to step up to the plate and offer to host it here in Ely.”
The NNRy will host the symposium for the foreseeable future. And although it requires a great deal of work to put on, letting the symposium die was not an alternative, Bassett said.
“From our point of view, running the train is great and we do a real good job about that, but running the trains without telling the story is only doing half the job,” Bassett said. “Doing the symposium gives us the chance to go into the nuts and bolts about not only why we’re here but why railroading exists.”
The symposium began with an excursion to Meadow Valley Wash on Thursday.
“That was the scene of the railroad war between Senator Clark and the Union Pacific Railroad as they tried to come through this narrow wash,” Bassett said. “The wash has flooded multiple times in its history so we’re going to chase the tracks and come on up from there. You can see old remnants of the railroad where it has washed away and there are one or two ghost towns there that we will see too.”
Friday and Saturday will see a number of presentations throughout the day. Among them include Steve Swanson speaking about the last days of steam on the Nevada Northern Railway, Kurt Dietrich on railway patents that work and didn’t quite work and Kyle Wyatt from California, speaking on early passenger cars and cabooses of the Central Pacific.
“It’s nice to have a scholar from another museum make the trip over here to share information,” Bassett said.
Registration for the symposium can still be made at the NNRy. Registration for Friday and Saturday’s presentations cost $50 with extra fees for various special events such as a banquet and auction, a Steptoe Valley Flyer ticket on Sunday and a chance to hold the throttle on a steam engine on Sunday. For more information, please call 775-289-205.
As the NNRy welcomes the Nevada Railway Symposium for the third year in a row, Bassett said everyone involved expects a fun and interesting time while learning about Nevada’s railroading history. And since deciding to host the Symposium rather than seeing it shut down because of budget constraints, the annual event has become one of the NNRy’s newest traditions and an event that they are proud to take part in each and every year.
“Certain things you do because you have to do it,” Bassett said. “Actually hosting an event, there are a thousand and one details that need to be done. The great thing about hosing the event is I get to talk with Kyle Wyatt or Steve Swanson. It is an opportunity to do some learning and listen to experts in the field talk about their loves. That is always very enjoyable.”