Friday, July 31, 2009

Railfest Weekend

For the first time in more than 70 years, a magnificent steam train will make its way between Carson City and Virginia City on the historic Virginia & Truckee Railroad (, Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 15-16, 2009. The rumble of wheels – steel on steel, the melodic tempo of a train highballing down the track, the steam whistle cutting through the air – all signal the near completion of a project 17 years in the making.

An inaugural run features a ceremonial ride for VIPs, dignitaries and politicians along a 12.8-mile reconstructed portion of the 16.7-mile original route between Nevada’s sister cities, Friday, Aug. 14.

Beginning Saturday, August 15 and Sunday, August 16 and every consecutive Saturday through Oct. 31, the public can ride the rails. Trains leave Carson City from Eastgate Siding on Flint Drive at 10 a.m. arriving in Virginia City at 11:30 a.m. Then depart the F Street station in Virginia City at 3:30 p.m. to return to Carson City at 4:30 p.m. Roundtrip tickets are $48 per adult, $36 for children 12 and under and $40 for seniors over 65. One way tickets will be available for $29 adults, $23 for children and $25 for seniors. To reserve tickets, call 800-NEVADA-1 or visit

The 60-90-minute train rides will include scenic vistas of the “old west” countryside, views of the Carson River, two tunnels and occasional sightings of wild stallions. Commemorative plaques with slices of historic track will be available to riders for $20 during the opening weekend with proceeds benefitting the Nevada Commission for the Reconstruction of the V&T Railway.

The V&T Railway, the richest short-line in American history, originally operated during the raucous silver strike era of the infamous Comstock Lode from 1869 to 1938. When completed in 2011, the reconstructed track traces all 16.7 miles of the 19th century route between Carson City and Virginia City and is expected to serve as a major tourism attraction to the area. Train rides will be packaged with lodging stays and award-winning restaurants to link the area’s fabled past to the present and shape its promising future as a prominent vacation destination. The Carson City Convention & Visitors Bureau and Carson City have pledged $21 million and Storey County has contributed $2 million to the $54.9 million project.

The 1860’s V&T was privately funded and featured the finest appointments with the most luxurious interiors money could buy, including gold-leaf and brass-adorned locomotives to wooden coaches. The line brought entrepreneurs, gamblers and aristocrats to the Comstock. Along with these characters, the train carried the Mother Lode’s gold and silver to Carson City and lumber from Lake Tahoe to build the mines in Virginia City.

The timing of the V&T route re-opening appropriately coincides with Railfest, an annual celebration of the V& T Railway observed that weekend in both cities with a plethora of railroad activities.

In addition to the V&T’s newly re-opened route, steam engines in both towns will also offer shorter rides along existing track. In Virginia City where the V&T has run for more than 30 years under the ownership of the Gray family, the popular 5-mile route to Gold Hill will also be in full operation. In Carson City, “steam-ups” will take visitors along the 1-mile route that surrounds the Nevada State Railroad Museum, adjacent to Highway 50 downtown.

The Gray family began to reconstruct the tracks between Virginia City and Gold Hill in 1972. Since then, they have run trains daily between the two cities, keeping the V&T alive. Without their help, the reconstruction project between Virginia City and Carson City would not have been possible,

Silver Line Express tickets, a city pass for savings on train and trolley rides, merchant discounts and local attractions around Virginia City and Gold Hill, are available at visitors center, 86 South C St. Various options are available, including trolley tours, admission to the Ponderosa Mine, Historic Radio Museum, the Mark Twain Museum at the Territorial Enterprise, The Way It Was Museum, the Fourth Ward School, Chollar Mine and Comstock Gold Mill. A 1914 Pullman car and a Railway President’s 1907 gentlemen’s car will be on display. Other activities include historic railroad memorabilia displays, free face painting, a balloon magician, bounce house, and children’s games. Call 775-847-4386 or visit

As part of Railfest weekend in Carson City, the Nevada State Railroad Museum will feature live music at the Depot. In conjunction with KNPB-TV and the Carson City Arts & Culture Coalition, the museum will screen The National Parks: America’s Best Idea, a film by award-winning director Ken Burns, outdoors on the side of the Jacobsen Interpretive Center at the museum at 8:30 p.m. Saturday night. Call 775-687-6953 or visit Allll aboard!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Historic Theater involved in John Dillinger's last bank heist for sale in auction!

Just 90 miles East of Chicago, near the University of Notre Dame, State Theatre sits as a true landmark in the heart of Downtown South Bend, Indiana. Since opening its doors in 1921 as the Blackstone Theatre Vaudeville House, it has had an amazing 88-year history.

Listed on the National Historic Register of Places in 1985, it was once host to former President Ronald Reagan for the premier of "Knute Rockne All American" and the scene of infamous gangster John Dillinger’s last bank robbery. This unique, historic landmark is being sold in an online auction with bidding set to begin on July 16.
And now you can own this piece of American History.

The property is currently owned by Way of Life, a non-profit group. Proceeds from the building’s sale will help continue the organization’s mission of providing hope to the Community. “When the recession hit last fall, non-profits were hit the hardest. In these economic times, people have less money to donate, so we had some difficult decisions to make regarding our organization’s assets," said Lester L. Sumrall, President and Founder of Way of Life.

The two-week long auction will end on July 30 and is being conducted by commercial real estate broker, NAI Global, based in Albuquerque, NM. Ironically, the auction coincides with the release of the film “Public Enemies”, starring Johnny Depp. The movie, which profiles Dillinger, has generated a resurgence of interest in the gangster’s legacy.

On June 30, 1934 John Dillinger’s last robbery at Merchants Bank took place across the street from the theater. The incident netted Dillinger’s gang almost $30,000, leaving eight wounded and one police officer dead. Recounting the details of the incident, Sumrall said “They grabbed hostages and shot over 100 shots down the street as they were escaping. During this gunfight with police they shot up our facade and marquee.”

The landmark property has already received considerable interest from both corporate and private buyers due to its versatility and location near the College Football Hall of Fame.

“We’ve been pleased by all of the positive response we’ve gotten from the Chicago-Sun Times article, the NBC Chicago coverage and now the Fox News story,” Sumrall said. "The State Theatre is sure to become a valuable asset to its new owners ... There's a lot of big things that can happen here, and I believe they will."

For more information on the auction, please visit for full details.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Ghost Walk through Appalachia!

Appalachian GhostWalks
Haunted Vacations Ghost and History Tours

Start a new tradition this year and bring your whole family, or tour group on a Tennessee "Haunted Vacation" with Appalachian GhostWalks' Tennessee and Virginia Ghost Tours... TRI-CITIES, Tennessee - It's that time of year when we all start dreaming of our next get away. Why not start a new tradition this year and bring your whole family or tour group on a "Haunted Vacation".
Appalachian GhostWalks Ghost and History Tours are lantern-led by real, professionally Certified Ghost Hunters who recount "spine-tingling" stories of real history and real ghosts! Bring your whole family, or tour group on a Tennessee and Virginia "Haunted Vacation" with Appalachian GhostWalks' Tennessee and Virginia Ghost Tours... "Appalachian GhostWalks" has designed tour packages to help save Tennessee travelers money on their next visit to the mountains. Additional information on all of their "Spook and Save" vacation partners is available on their award winning website where visitors will find links to their "Discount Haunted Vacation Planning Packages".
Here, you will find a variety of elegant, quaint, old-world style, and haunted bed and breakfasts, but also more modernized accommodations for those who prefer an alternate setting for their stay... There are several different tours in the Northeastern Tennessee Mountains presently available to choose from all located just a short drive from Dollywood, Ober Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Tennessee tours include the "Haunted Historic Erwin and Unicoi County Heritage Museum GhostWalk", the "Haunted Historic Jonesborough GhostWalk", the "East Tennessee State University Campus GhostWalk", the "Historic Tipton-Haynes GhostWalk", the "Haunted Historic Greeneville GhostWalk", the "Haunted Historic Rogersville GhostWalk", the "Haunted Historic Blountville GhostWalk", and downtown Johnson City's "Little Chicago GhostWalk". Appalachian GhostWalks' Virginia ghost tours presently include the "Historic Abingdon Virginia GhostWalk" departing from the Barter Theatre Stage II Cafe, and the "Haunted Historic Bristol GhostWalk" - the Birthplace of Country Music...
Beginning Wednesday, August 12th, 2009 Appalachian GhostWalks will introduce its newest tour - currently under production. Join us for a tour of Tennessee's Second oldest incorporated town with the "Haunted Historic Dandridge GhostWalk"! Two bus tours will follow in production for a 2010 inauguration including the Upper and Lower "Great Smoky Mountains Haunted Adventure Tour"...
Each of their historically accurate tours offer a small piece of a much larger puzzle of regional history and rhetoric as your very own Certified Ghost Hunter Guide and Historian weaves a chilly tale of our region's vast cultural heritage coupled with true, spine-tingling ghost stories. Catering to both couples, as well as larger groups, one simple phone call to their knowledgeable staff will help you create a memorable Tennessee Vacation designed specifically for you and your travel companions... Appalachian GhostWalks is proud to have won a Merit Award at the Pinnacle Awards early in 2007 as presented by the Northeast Tennessee Tourism Association and the company continues to grow. A spokesperson for the company announced that visits to their award winning website for this year had grown more than four hundred percent above this time last year with over twelve million hits. Also, Appalachian GhostWalks was the recipient of the Washington D.C. based U.S. Local Business Association's 2008 "Tour Operators and Promoters" Award. In addition, Appalachian GhostWalks and Ghost Tours was voted one of the top five ghost tour companies in the United States by Haunted America in New Orleans, Louisiana for the past four years and counting...

Travel discounts are available on accommodations for recreational vehicles and tourists including a wonderful choice of very historic and sometimes haunted bed and breakfasts, camping, white water rafting, caving, bike and horseback riding, a local gem mine, a day at the spa, planetarium shows, barge and carriage rides, area museums and exhibits, visits to local water parks, skiing, seeing a live play, or a concert, casual and fine dining, with more on the way. Packages featuring a wide variety of area attractions to include both day and night time activities offer visitors something to keep you and your travel companions enchanted and entertained during their stay... Rates vary according to the number in your party and advance reservations are required. We accept Visa, Mastercard, and Discover. We tend to stay busy throughout the year so please call when you have a convenient moment with your date, or dates... Now offering so many ways to save and make the most of your visit to the Southern Appalachian Mountains, Appalachian GhostWalks invites you and that special someone, or group to join them in saying, "Tennessee Sounds Good To Me"! Visit them online at for additional information, or for a SPOOK-tacular good time please call (423) 743-WALK (9255) for reservations...

Very truly and hauntingly yours...

Stacey Allen McGee, Tour Director
Appalachian GhostWalks
Haunted Vacations Ghost and History Tours