Archive for August, 2008

A dog-friendly train ride in the Old West

Wednesday, August 27th, 2008

A few weeks ago we took a trip to Reno and on the way back home decided to stop in Virginia City, Nevada, for the night. It is like taking a “step baVirginia and Truckee Railroadck in time”, just like their visitor center promotes. It’s a fairly short drive south of Reno, but as the windy road takes you up to the top of a desert mountain range, where the town is nestled, it seems like an entirely different world than the casino towns. Of special interest on the drive up are the “horse crossing” signs. It is here that you are literally entering wild horse country, where wild mustangs still roam free. Unfortunately, we did not happen to spot any, but it was pretty cool just searching the landscape for the chance to spot one of these American icons. Nearing the top of the mountain, we came around the bend into the once booming late 1800s mining town called Virginia City. Gold and silver were mined here and millions of dollars worth of these metals were found. Some of the money made from the “Comstock Lode”, the mining area around Virginia City, went to help fund a fair amount of buildings built in San Francisco during the late 1800s. During this boom town time, the Virginia and Truckee Railroad was built. The train still runs today for visitors who come to this historic mining town. No longer a working train, it operates as a tourist attraction with narration included. And they allowed well-mannered dogs to ride too! So we hopped aboard, along with our standard poodle, Toby. The train had both an open air car and a covered train car. Since our pooch has black hair which attracts the heat from the sun like crazy, we opted for the covered car. The train ran along the old tracks, through a tunnel, over a bridge and across a road. Before we crossed the paved road, it was easy to imagine how the Old West really looked. The track runs along some of the most scenic desert mountain landscape around. The train stopped in the old town of Gold Hill where passengers can get off and walk around for a few minutes, or stay in Gold Hill for an hour or two until the next train comes back. We wanted to get back and walk around Virginia City, so as we were discussing whether or not we should get off the train to stretch our legs for just a few minutes, the train was ready to go again. Back we headed to Virginia City. It was a really pleasant train ride and was only about a 30 minute ride, which made is just the right length for us and Toby.