A Piece of Railway History Returns Home

An 86-year old piece of equipment used in the building of Hoover Dam came home on Friday to the Nevada State Railroad Museum in Boulder City. This lovely old rail car was brought in by truck and off-loaded at the railway and we got to be there to see it! Even better, we thought you’d like to see what happens in that process – as it’s actually pretty cool, even for a ‘non-train expert’ kind of gal. We also think you’ll like learning more about this historically interesting beauty of a car…

Originally Built by The Six Companies

According to Museum Director, Randy Hees, this Side Dump Car along with 56 others were made specifically by the Six Companies for use in going to Arizona to pick up gravel and sand to make the cement they built the dam with. After the dam was complete, the car was then sold to Western Pacific Railroad and then to the Niles Canyon Railroad, which they have now donated to our museum here in Boulder City! Rumor has it, that somewhere in this bad boy is still one of the original Six Companies stamps beneath all that rust. Randy tells us that he personally only knows of one other surviving car of those that were built, although there may be as many as a hand-full still floating around. We have to tell ya, this thing is pretty impressive, some 35+ feet long. What was amazing to see is that despite all the rust, you can still tell how it worked in the past, and it is now resting on the very same railway tracks that it began it’s journey.

Now that you’ve seen this car arrive, how do they get that heavy piece of equipment off that truck, you may ask? The answer is you ‘think like an Egyptian’, or as Randy said, a railway man. First, they have to move that piece of rail into position at the back of the trailer.

Once that is complete, they support that rail in a gradual descent from the trailer down to the track level at the yard. The men support it with wooden rail ties and other scrap wood. They also take that same lift equipment used above to literally shove that track in as tight as they can and to adjust the supporting rail height on the trailer. All of this is of course to help it have a smooth transition down to the ground level track.

And now, we’re ready to pull this car home!

At some future point, they’ll work on restoring this car to it’s original form,  at least as much as possible. It might sound crazy, but even with all it’s rust, it’s quite the sight up close and personal. Below we’ve got a view from the top for you, and also if you look closely at the side of the car, you’ll see some of the old wood still present that helps form the floor of the dump load within the car. Randy says that wood may have been replaced, once.

The car will be on display out at the Nevada Southern Railway soon, for those who want to take a peek, and the outdoor pavilion is open for visitors 9am – 3:30pm. For now, we’ll simply say, “Welcome Home” to this little piece of history.

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