Nevada train rides do not include elegant dinner trains or long excursions in comfy, restored passenger equipment. However, they do offer incredible history, particularly regarding the state's once vast mining industry. The recently restored, and venerable, Virginia & Truckee Railway is the most widely regarded with a history that dates back to the 19th century hauling vast quantities of silver. The V&T has only been a tourist railroad for the past few years since its restoration and currently offers guests rides between Carson City and Virginia City. Similarly, the Nevada Northern Railway, and museum, preserves the history of a railroad once vitally important to the Ely area. Please note! The guide information here pertains only to Nevada train rides related to vacation and tourism destinations. If you are interested in intercity/long distance rail travel please visit Amtrak's website.
Historically, Nevada has never really been known as a important state to railroads, save for the main lines which passed through it once owned by the Western Pacific, Union Pacific, and Southern Pacific. From a freight traffic standpoint the state has provided railroads with (in general) ore, minerals, and years ago, silver. This is where the legend of the Virginia & Truckee was born, as the famed Comstock Lode hit Nevada in 1859 (the first discover of Silver in the country). If you are interested in steam, you can catch both at the V&T and the Nevada Northern Railway, the former of which is growing its fleet as money becomes available for restorations. Finally, there is the Nevada Southern which has a nice little operation near Boulder City that is very reasonably priced with special events hosted at different times of the year. Also, if you are interested in Nevada train rides that pertain to specific events, such as "The Polar Express," Halloween, Thomas the Tank Engine excursions, or fall foliage events please visit the main tourist trains section of this website.
Nevada Northern Railway/Nevada State Railroad Museum - Carson City
The Nevada Northern Railway looks to generally preserve the history of the state's once profitable copper industry. The railroad has been in operation on and off since 1905 although it has not hauled freight since 1986 when the Kennecott Minerals Company turned over much of the property to the White Pine Historical Railroad, which today operates it as the Nevada Northern Railway Museum. They offer several different special train rides including BBQ trains, wine trains, charters, the Chocolate Express, and holiday specials. Also, between the Nevada Northern and the museum they own nine steam locomotives, five of which are operational (and two of those are original Nevada Northern locomotives). Finally, be sure to check out their many pieces of rolling stock and locomotives on display, including several steam locomotives.
Nevada Southern Railway/Nevada State Railroad Museum - Boulder City
The Nevada Southern Railway is based in Boulder City, Nevada in the southern region of the state. It operates on trackage once owned by a railroad known as the Nevada Southern Railway, a government sponsored operation built to help construct the now-Hoover Dam in the late 1920s through the 1930s. Today the railroad offers a number of special train rides and events throughout the year and their coaches are fully climate controlled. The organization also houses a collection of rolling stock and locomotives, including three steam locomotives all of which sit on display.
Virginia & Truckee Railway
The Virginia and Truckee Railway began when it was chartered in 1869 and meant to provide transportation services to the Reno and Carson City areas. While the V&T provided a means of moving out the vast quantities of silver ore being mined it also offered a way to ship in lumber, men, and other materials needed to extract the ore. The railroad ceased to exist as a freight line by 1950, long after the silver mines had dried up (much of which was due to the Sherman Act of 1893). It gained a new purpose soon after its closing to shoot countless Hollywood western films, and it was then that the railroad earned its popularity. However, this too played out by the 1960s at which point most of the rails were taken up. They began to be relaid by the 1970s although the railroad's true rebirth began in the early 1990s when a major push began to rebuild much of the line as a tourist attraction. Today, about fifteen miles of the line are operable although rebuilding of the route is not yet complete along with additional restorations of locomotives and equipment.
If you are interested in learning more about Nevada train rides and railroad museums, Kalmbach Publishing/Trains Magazine releases their Tourist Trains Guidebook each year, which highlights most such destinations throughout the U.S. and Canada.