Big McKeen Motorcar RR Celebration Planned for May PDF Print

CARSON CITY, Nev. — Celebrating National Train Day, the Nevada State Railroad Museum’s historic 1910 McKeen Motorcar will ride the rails from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, May 12 in Carson City. 

Now a stellar attraction for rail enthusiasts and family fun, the McKeen Motorcar originally arrived in Carson City as Virginia and Truckee Car No. 22 on May 9, 1910.  It operated until 1945 racking up more than a half-million miles on the route between Reno and Minden.  Upon retirement, the prestigious car became a diner and an office but was rescued by the museum in 1995, when it was donated by the Bernhard family of Carson City.

“After remarkable restoration, the McKeen Motorcar went back into service and carried passengers under its own power in 2010 to mark its centennial.  It has been nominated as a National Historic Landmark, a move that could boost efforts to gain national recognition for this important resource,” said Peter Barton, administrator of the Nevada Division of Museums and History. The McKeen Motorcar was previously recognized in the National Register of Historic Places. 

The McKeen Motor Car is significant as a rare example of William McKeen’s effort to use internal combustion engines for rail travel, which had previously relied primarily on steam propulsion. McKeen also experimented with streamlining and use of lightweight metals for his motorized railcars to lower costs. The savings helped preserve passenger and express service on lightly-populated railroads across the United States, Barton said.

The Nevada State Railroad Museum, with its yellow train depot and red water tank on U.S. 395, is a familiar Carson City landmark at 2180 S. Carson Street, at Fairview Avenue.   The museum also operates steam-ups with historic Virginia and Truckee Railroad equipment and outdoor exhibits on selected weekends throughout the year, with special events on Memorial Day and July 4.  Inside, the facility offers the recently renovated Jacobsen Interpretive Center and a glimpse at how Nevada’s railroads contributed to the state’s history and Western development.

McKeen Motorcar rides for National Train Day are from 10 to 4 p.m. Ride tickets are $10 for those 12 and up, $5 for those 4-11.  Children 3 and under are free.  Museum admission is $6 for ages 18 and up, and free for those 17 and under.   The museum is open from 8:30 to 4:30 to allow passengers to spend time at the exhibits before or after their trips and to visit the gift shop.  For more information contact Lara Mather at 687-6953 x224 or visit