|← Previous Photo
|Next Photo →
Date of photo: May 1950
Source: Facebook: Martin Hansen
On May 1, 1950, V&T Engine #26 finished its daily run from Reno to Carson City and Minden and back, and was eased backwards into the Reno enginehouse near the banks of the Truckee River. The crew went through their normal routine of shutting her down, and headed home to rest up for the next day's run. The V&T was in its last days, and the line was scheduled to be shut down at the end of the month. #26 only had a few more weeks service ahead of her before she was to be put out to pasture and, most likely, dismantled for scrap. The best she could hope for, probably, would be to be placed in a park or at the state museum, on display as one of the few remaining relics of the glory days of the Virginia and Truckee. No matter what, her days of active service were almost over.
Half an hour after the doors of the old wooden enginehouse were locked, a fire alarm went up on the east side of Reno. Firefighters arrived to find the enginehouse engulfed in flames, with Engine 26 still stowed away inside. Some glowing ember or spark from the engine must have made its way into some flammable material left around the shop, and ignited the blaze. Firefighters did their best, but it was too late. The enginehouse was completely destroyed, and the engine reduced to a charred pile of scrap. Sentimentalists surmised that Engine 26, knowing of her fate, decided to go out in the most spectacular way possible.
This photo shows the aftermath of the fire, the heavily damaged engine within the charred remains of the enginehouse. The engine never ran again, and it was soon scrapped.
Date Uploaded: January 24, 2023
Permanent Link: http://wnhpc.com/details/fb5785229894828549
Contributor: Martin Hansen on Facebook
Source: Facebook: Martin Hansen
Source Caption: Certain events that occurred in the steam era were just too bizarre to have been made up. The fiery death of this famous locomotive is one such event. By early May, 1950 the owners of Nevada's fabled Virginia & Truckee railroad had seen the writing on the wall. The traffic on the line had fallen off to such an extent they had filed for abandonment of "The Silver Shortline" and the last run was scheduled for May 30, of that year. With the tube time for V&T's #27 having expired, the chosen power for the last run would be capped-stacked #26. This locomotive was the second to the last new locomotive delivered to the V&T and had been the darling of visiting railfans after the sale of the older V&T power to the Hollywood movie studios a few years earlier. Unfortunately, #26 had other plans. When her run was completed on May 1, 1950, and #26 had been stowed inside the single stall wooden enginehouse in Reno, her crews walked away thinking they were done for the day. However, a few minutes after they had started for home they could hear the blare of fire-engine sirens and they turned to see a pillar of black smoke rising over the skyline back from the enginehouse that they had just left. By the time the returned the structure was fully engulfed in flames and by the time the fire department put out the fire, #26 was in shambles as we see here. Clearly #26 could not be repaired for the last run that was only weeks away. While the V&T could have used their 2-8-0 #5 that they had purchased from the Nevada Copper Belt in 1945, that big ALCO did not have the feel of the old V&T that the railroad wanted for the last run. Within days of the fire that destroyed #26 the V&T shop men contacted the ICC and worked out a waiver for old #27 so she could do the honors on the last run at the end of the month. After #27 performed the last run, #5 had the somber duty of towing the hulk of #26 and herself to a yard in Reno where both would fall to the scrappers torch. #27 would live on as she was donated to the Governor of the State Of Nevada and today she resides in the in the Nevada State Railroad Museum in Carson City. She was truly saved by the fire that took #26.