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Train museum takes advantage of downtime to service, rebuild cars

Silver linings can be difficult to come by in the current times, but the Nevada Southern Railroad Museum in Boulder City has found one.

The facility reopened at the end of May and still cannot offer train rides, but staff is using this downtime to rebuild and reservice train cars so that more visitors will be able to have a grand experience as soon as possible. They have also renovated another open-air car that hasn’t been rail-worthy since coming to the museum in the 1990s.

“There will now be an additional 30 seats (for riders),” said Randy Hees, museum director.

Hees said they will be able to offer train rides once Phase Three of Nevada’s reopening begins and, because of COVID-19, they will be running more open cars. Currently, the only train rides available are as part of Rail Explorers’ rail bike tours.

Hees said they decided to rebuild the car before closing for COVID-19, and are in the process of replacing the floor and benches in another open-air car as well as doing required maintenance.

“We’re going to make sure we’re doing what we can to be ready,” he said.

They were able to continue the work and repair another car thanks to the nonprofit organization Friends of the Nevada Southern Railway Inc.

“We … stepped up with the state budget issues with this COVID-19 stuff,” said Scott Dam, president of the nonprofit.

Dam said the museum will not get state funds it usually receives due to budget cuts caused by the pandemic. Because of that, Friends of the Southern Nevada Railway purchased the repair materials as well as personal protective equipment for the staff and volunteers, an ultraviolet light system and thermal sensors.

“That’s why we do our fundraisers,” he said.

Currently, the museum’s outdoor exhibit is open for visitors from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. daily.

“We ask that guests wash hands, maintain social distance, stay home if sick and wear a mask,” Hees said. “Staff is required to wear a mask. We have disinfecting protocols for the restrooms, rail bikes and train cars.”

Rail Explorers has resumed its operations with a capacity for 46 riders, and the bikes allow them to social distance. After their ride, they return to the museum in an open-air train car.

The caboose, mail car and gift shop remain closed.

Contact reporter Celia Shortt Goodyear at cgoodyear@bouldercityreview.com or at 702-586-9401. Follow her on Twitter @csgoodyear.

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