NevadaGram #209 – Christmas Trains, Secrets of the Picon, and the Guy from Tahoe Straps on his Skis


Nevada is blessed with a handful of historic railroads operating around the state, and they all devote considerable energy to creating forever Christmas memories. If there’s a child in your world, these train rides can stay with you for the rest of your lives.


Two of them welcome trainloads of children and their adult companions aboard the Ely Polar Express and the Carson City Polar Express at the east and west sides of the states repectively.

Conductors at the Ely depot call out “All Aboard” and the train whisks its passengers off to the North Pole, sipping at hot chocolate and nibbling on cookies served by elves in the exotic enviroment of a swaying, creaking, clickety-clacking railroad car. Some of them are dressed in pajamas, but none of them are sleepy. When they arrive at the North Pole, Santa steps aboard and each child receives a gift to remember this night. Even without a gift, the memory is indelible for the grownups too.


just as they do In Ely, families in Carson City climb aboard historic coaches dressed in sparkling holiday lights for the magical journey to the North Pole. They curl up and listen to the story of THE POLAR EXPRESS. They too sip at hot chocolate and they also nibble on cookies! VIP parlor car tickets are available.

You might think there is a mighty traffic jam at the North Pole as Polar Expresses from all over the country pull in, but the engineers are so deft, so graceful and so skilled that they never even catch sight of one another.


Christmas on th V&T Virginia CityVirginia City‘s Candy Cane Express has a busy weekend schedule of festively decorated departures through December 16th. Steeped in holiday spirit, this whimsical train has become a cherished local tradition for families of all ages. On the scenic 50-minute journey over the 140-year old V&T railroad route, you will enjoy hot cocoa or cider, candy canes & cookies, and sing-a-long carols.

And the State Railroad Museums in Carson City and Boulder City both operate Santa Trains.

Each rider on the Carson City Santa Train receives a candy cane from Santa Claus upon boarding. Tickets are $5 for all riders; children 2 and under sitting in an adult lap are FREE.

Refreshments are offered for sale. Explore the museum and have your photo taken with the magnificent locomotive Inyo (for an additional fee). Online ticket sales close 24 hours before departure and only select trains are available for ticket purchase online. Walk-up tickets are available for purchase each day of Santa Train.

The Boulder City Santa Train

starts up at 10 am on December 8th, 9th, 15th, 16th, 22nd and 23rd. This 40-minute ride along the Boulder Branch Line features fun on board with Santa and Mrs. Claus, a toy train exhibit, Santa’s sleigh for photos, North Pole mailbox and depot gift store. Purchase Santa Train Tickets.

The Boulder City Pajama Train makes two runs each evening, at 6 and 8 pm, on December 6th, 7th, 13th, 14th, 20th and 21st. Purchase Pajama Train Tickets

From a Trip Advisor Review: Last year I wrote the pajama train was fun but the kids couldn’t see out the window because it was so dark out; so this year we went at 3:00. Seeing out the window is highly over rated, next year I’m back on the PJ train in the club car. Santa and his helpers were great though, day trip takes about 25 minutes; longer for the PJ trip.

More about Nevada’s Historic Railroads here

Editor’s Choice —

Nevada Magazine logoMelvin Dummar: The Man Howard Hughes Left Behind

by Shaun Astor

Melvin Dummar“I grew up in Fallon. There was an airport, where the Churchill County rodeo grounds are at,” Melvin Dummar, now 74 years old, recalls on a warm evening as the sun falls behind the Resting Spring Mountain Range to the west of his home in Pahrump. “I was 6, 7 years old, it was still open, and I would watch the planes. I wanted to fly.”

From its mining to the casinos that make up a portion of the state’s tapestry, Nevada’s past has been guided by the oscillations between boom and bust. Wealth can be made and lost at the flip of a card, the spin of a wheel, or the swing of a shovel. It may appear at a moment and disappear just as quickly.

This is the story of one man’s brush with fate that made history and almost destroyed his life.      Read More Here

Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park

Bikepacking Nevada’s backroads

Day Tour; Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park

by Kurstin Graham

Adventure Cycling has promoted Bike Your Park over the last three years to celebrate National Public Lands Day. I have promoted rides out of the Black Rock Desert and Dayton to Fort Churchill State Parks in years past.

This year I wanted to visit the Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park. I had been considering this park on the western slope of the Shoshone Range in the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest. I planned a ride from the historic Middlegate Station to our state park, then returning on gravel roads through the Ione Valley back to Middlegate. As the route was planned it was 90+ miles with over 5,000′ of climbing. As a group ride, open to all, this was a bit intimidating.            Read More Here


On the final days of “The Fellowship of Highway 95,” Lindsey Rickert and Francesca Berrini process what they experienced in Nevada.

Time was top of mind as Francesca Berrini and Lindsey Rickert began the final days of their week-long artistic adventure from Las Vegas to Reno up Nevada’s “Free-Range Art Highway”.

In continuation of the previous days’ journey into the mythical “unknown,” the women headed to Walker Lake to catch a glimpse of Cecil the Serpent, the elusive ‘sea monster’ said to reside in the lake. Read More Here

Five Years Ago in the NevadaGram — A Bad Day for Comstock Mining Inc.

The struggle over pit mining in the Virginia City National Historic Landmark has shifted south through Devil’s Gate from Storey into Lyon County.

At last month’s scheduled hearing before the Lyon County Planning Commission, Comstock Mining Inc asked for a continuance, saying it hadn’t had time to prepare. This time company CEO Corrado De Gasperis delivered the applicant’s response to the Planning Commission Staff Report just 30 minutes prior to the meeting, giving no-one time to prepare a reasoned response.

He was rebuked by two board members for introducing new and irrelevant material relating to the drawing of the town boundaries, materials requiring careful review, but allowing no time to do it. Commissioner Wahrenbrock mentioned CMI’s incompetence, Commission chairman Davies criticized Mr. De Gasperis’ manipulating and misleading the Planning Commissioners.

Read the whole thing here

Overheard at the El Capitan in Hawthorne: “Torture is designed to produce confessions, Ted, and it always works — confessions to anything you want.”

Ten Years Ago in the NevadaGram — Staying at the Hotel Nevada in Ely

Stayed at the Historic Hotel Nevada & Gambling Hall in Ely, got room #417, and consulted the Guest Book for my bedtime reading. Some excerpts:

Big orange ape at the Hotel Nevada in Ely7/6/02 Wonderful room, great staff (except for Gary the 21 dealer)” 8/28/03 “We’ve been coming here for about 20 years picking pine nuts and garnets.” 11/27/03 “Awesome — He asked me to marry him! Great night!” 12/10/06 “Great place, great room – fun things. Mirror is placed very well too – why didn’t anyone tell us our butts were that big?” 12/13/06 “Love the large orange ape” 3/9/07 “Our favorite stop on the way to the races. Good food. Great bartender (Bad monkey!)” 12/01/07 “A year later and I’m still in love with that large orange ape.” 4/11/08 “We had to evict the monkey out of bed — wasn’t room for us all” . . . 5/20/08 “Next time we have to cover the big orange ape’s eyes — he likes to watch while we tested the bed” 5/30/08 “The room was great. Food was great. Always have a lot of fun here. Only bad thing was my husband was violated by the monkey.” 9/25/08 “Just Married 2 weeks ago. 3 years and Eric still loves that big orange ape” 10/21/08 “Another fun time in this great old hotel. We always stay at Hotel Nevada — our favorite hotel anywhere in the state. Love this room — even the giant chimpanzee”


Read the whole thing here

15 Years Ago in the NevadaGram — 2003 Governor’s Conference on Tourism

It wasn’t the Tourismic oratory that made this Conference exceptional, it was Deepak Chopra.

When I’d seen his name on the agenda I’d wondered what in the world he had to say to us about Tourism. The answer turned out to be: nothing.

He spoke instead about overthrowing the superstition of materialism, of the way the human mind exists in every cell of the body, and how coincidence is a glimpse of the universal mind. He delivered us into a realm of science-based spirituality, far more challenging than we had any right to expect, and light-years beyond interest in the bottom line.

Shar PetersonOne striking omission from the proceedings was any mention of Shar Peterson and the people of Battle Mountain who have performed a miracle of grace under pressure to transform the stunning “Armpit of America” insult by the Washington Post into a positive achievement. The Old Spice Festival in the Pit drew national attention, and Battle Mountain is way up on people’s ‘must-see’ lists not just because of the notoriety, but because of the cool way the folks there have dealt with all the hubbub. Claudine Williams‘ tribute was well deserved, but I think Shar Peterson should have got a medal — she was Nevada’s Travel Hero of 2003.       Read the whole thing here

Parting Shot —
Fly Geyser, Gerlach Nevada

Fly Geyser at Gerlach by Robin Cobbey



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