Reno, Nevada Tour & Event Descriptions


(This Tour is Now Full)

We will visit the Verdi Hydroelectric Plant, built in 1911 by the Truckee River General Electric Company, Verdi  is one of four small hydroelectric plants built along the Truckee River between 1899 and 1911 to provide power to the mills in Virginia City and other nearby communities. The West Verdi Concrete Arch Bridge is one of two similar highway bridges built in 1938 by Isbell Construction Company of Reno to carry the Lincoln Highway across the Truckee River.  Crystal Peak Park, adjacent to the West Verdi Bridge is located on a portion of the former Verdi Lumber Company property. Several historic steel railroad bridges are still in use between Verdi and Truckee. Three truss bridges were built across the Truckee River in 1907 by the American Bridge Company. Parallel steel girder spans were added each location in 1915 as part of the track doubling project between Truckee and Reno. All of these bridges are still in use by the Union Pacific Railroad. Donner Lake State Park Visitors Center is situated at the head of Donner Lake next to the Pioneer Monument. The small museum features exhibits that tell the story of the Emigrant Experience, the Donner Party, the Land of the Washoe, construction of the railroad, and early motoring adventures over Donner Pass. Donner Pass is an area of immense scenic beauty and historical importance as a transportation corridor. We will pass by several snow sheds and the “China Wall” on our way to the unique 1926 curved concrete arch Donner Pass Road Bridge. The high point of this tour will be landmark Tunnel No. 6 of the Central Pacific Railroad, by far the longest and most difficult of fifteen tunnels built by Chinese laborers as part of the first transcontinental railroad. Lunch is included.  (This tour is limited to 44 participants).

Opening Reception at Whitney Peak Hotel.


Friday Tour A – Ormat Steamboat Geothermal Power Plant is located in the Steamboat Hills just south of Reno. It consists of the six geothermal power plants with a combined generating capacity of 73 MW. The electricity generated by the complex is sold to NV Energy under separate long-term power purchase agreements. Galena Creek Bridge was completed in 2012, as part of a freeway extension between Reno and Carson City.  It is the longest cathedral arch bridge in the world. Unlike a typical concrete arch bridge, the deck of a cathedral arch is supported only at the crown, with no intermediate spandrel columns. Nevada State Railroad Museum in Carson City is devoted to the history of Nevada’s railroads. The bulk of the museum’s collection of more than 60 locomotives and cars were once part of the Virginia & Truckee Railroad.  This includes the Inyo, an 1875 wood-burning Baldwin locomotive, as well as V&T Caboose No. 9, built in 1873; and the Dayton, built in 1873 at the Central Pacific Railroad yards in Sacramento.  The museum collection also includes V&T Coach No. 17, built by the Central Pacific in 1868, as well as the beautifully-restored  Virginia and Truckee Railway Motor Car 22, built in 1910 by McKeen Motor Car Company. It is one of only a few railroad vehicles that have been designated a National Historic Landmark. American AVK is a leading U.S. manufacturer of gate valves, fire hydrants, and accessories for the water, wastewater, fire protection, and irrigation industries. AVK was one of the first valve manufacturers in the world to develop and design the Resilient Seated Gate Valve. AVK is located in a state-of-the-art 180,000 square foot manufacturing facility in Minden, Nevada. Bently Heritage Distillery is a recently-opened estate distillery, located in a restored complex of historic industrial buildings in Minden. The main building, a 1906 flour mill contains a tasting room and single-malt distillery, with two large copper stills custom built in Scotland.  The Minden Flour Milling Company was instrumental bringing the V&T Railroad to Minden, and helped spur the growth of electric power to the area. Next door, a second distillery has been constructed behind the 1916 brick façade of the Minden Butter Manufacturing Company, to produce the company’s other spirits (vodka, gin and eventually bourbon). This building also contains a bottling facility. The creamery was once the largest in Nevada, shipping on an international scale. It was organized to market Carson Valley produce, particularly butter, under the Windmill brand. Across the street is the historic Minden Wool Warehouse building, owned by the Bently family, but not part of the distillery. As an “estate distillery”, the company grows almost every ingredient at the nearby Bently Ranch, where the malthouse and barrel storage warehouses are located. Lunch is included. (This tour is limited to 44 Participants)

Friday Tour B (This Tour is Now Full) – Tesla Gigafactory is a joint venture between Tesla Motors and Panasonic to manufacture lithium-ion batteries for Tesla vehicles, home and business applications. Since initial production began in early 2016, the massive facility has become the centerpiece of the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center (TRIC), located in Storey County. With easy highway and rail access, and a development-friendly zoning process, TRIC has become home to an ever-growing list of companies such as Walmart, PetSmart, James Hardie, Apple, Switch, Tire Rack and others. Lahontan Dam is located west of Fallon in Churchill County. The dam was constructed in 1915 as part of the Newlands Project, begun in 1903 as the first large-scale project of the Bureau of Reclamation. Water from the Truckee River is diverted at Derby Dam, west of Fernley and conveyed by a ditch about 32 miles to the Carson River at Lahontan Dam. The project included an extensive network of irrigation ditches and drains, and led to the transformation of thousands of acres of barren desert to productive agricultural land in the broad flat Lahontan Valley. The dam was the largest earth-fill dam in the United States when it was completed.  It  features two curved, stepped concrete spillways that converge on a circular pool 220-feet in diameter.  The 4.0 MW powerhouse, completed in 1911 is still in operation. Kimmie Candy was established in 2000 in Sacramento. In 2005 the company relocated the previously-offshore Korean manufacturing operation to a state-of-the art facility in Reno.  Since opening the Reno factory in 2007, the company has grown from 7 to 30+ employees. The company currently makes about 4.2 million pounds of candy per year! Havelock Wool manufactures high-performance loose-fill and batt insulation at their Reno facility using natural New Zealand wool as a non-toxic alternative to traditional building materials. Havelock’s process utilizes an array of repurposed vintage wool-processing machinery.  Lunch is included. (This tour is limited to 21 Participants)


Virginia City is well known as the site of the Comstock Lode, one of the richest discoveries of silver and gold in the nation. We will explore and discuss several sites associated with the area’s remarkable mining history. The Comstock History Center displays one of the V&T Railroad’s original steam locomotives. This stop will also include a walking tour along E Street, which overlooks several former mine and mill sites. The Chollar Mine Tour consists of a 400-foot level walk through an old mine tunnel to a room called a stope. Visitors will be able to get a small sense of the miner’s world.  Fourth Ward School Museum, built in 1876 will be our lunch stop. Rock Point Mill Site in Dayton contains ruins of the Nevada Mining Reduction & Power Company mill built in 1910 to process ore delivered by aerial tramway from the Haywood Mine near Silver City. The mill was built on the site of previous mills dating to 1861. It only operated for a few years. A visit to Gold Hill will include a stop at the Yellow Jacket Mine shaft, the site of an 1869 fire that killed 35 miners. The Donovan Mill in Silver City is the site where the cyanide-zinc process was perfected 1896. Originally known as the Dazet Mill, the mill was expanded in 1920 with equipment brought from the Rock Point Mill in Dayton. The Donovan operated until 1959, and still contains much of its original equipment. It is currently in the process of an extensive renovation by the Comstock Foundation, which received an SIA Preservation Grant in 2017. Lunch is included.

Closing Banquet, Depot Craft Brewery Distillery Located in a renovated three story brick building built in 1910 to serve as the headquarters for the Nevada-California-Oregon Railway. Originating in Reno, the railway served many locales along the 238 mile stretch to Lakeview, Oregon. Unlike many of Nevada’s railroad systems, the NCO catered primarily to ranchers and farmers with almost all of the cargo consisting of livestock, wool, hay and grain.


Virginia & Truckee Railway steam train from Carson City’s Eastgate Depot to Virginia City. This optional tour will consist of a fully-narrated 1-1/2 hour ride aboard a restored 1916 Pullman car pulled by a 1916 Baldwin 2-8-0 steam locomotive. The tracks closely follow the original steep and winding right-of-way of the V&T, through tunnels, canyons, mining towns and wild horse country. A layover will be included for participants to have lunch and explore Virginia City before a bus ride back to Reno. Since Saturday’s tours will largely focus on the area’s industrial sites, this will be a great opportunity to visit C Street, the historic heart of Virginia City. Lunch is not included. (This tour is limited to 21 Participants)