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Nevada Southern Railway History

Our Nevada Southern Railway excursion train here in Boulder City Nevada is the third railway by this name.

In 1928, the Federal Government appropriated $165 Million for the construction of the Boulder Canyon project, soon renamed to Boulder Dam and later given it’s current name of Hoover Dam. To bring people, supplies, and equipment to the site, a two lane vehicular road was built from Las Vegas to Boulder City. For heavy equipment and supplies, The Union Pacific in 1931 constructed a rail line linking their main Las Vegas line to Boulder City.

A railroad was needed to take supplies directly to the dam construction site. The U.S. Government Construction Railroad branch was built from Boulder City to the dam site proceeding down Hemenway Wash. That branch required the construction of five tunnels through the rocky hills. That right-of-way is now a walking trail that is accessible from a trailhead just east of the Alan Bible Visitors Center on US 93 east of Boulder City.

The Six Companies, Inc. Railroad branched off the U.S. Government Railroad in lower Hemenway Wash and crossed the river on a trestle bridge to the Arizona gravel pit. Another branch went from the gravel plant near the present Boulder Islands to the lower dam site. Dam construction began in 1930 and was completed just less than five years later in 1935. Shortly after completion of the dam, the Six Companies, Inc. Railroad branch was decommissioned and the rails removed. The railroad beds and trestle bridge were covered as the lake filled. The U.S. Government Construction Railroad was used until 1961 when the last generator was installed. The Union Pacific abandoned the portion of the line from Boulder City to Henderson in 1985 and donated the land and track to the State of Nevada for this Nevada State Railroad Museum.

Here at the Museum, the maintenance facility was built in 1996 and the platform was built in 2000. Our excursion train run on the same tracks installed in 1931. Equipment has been acquired by the State both through purchase and donation. The refurbishment of the locomotives and cars has been funded primarily by the State, with some private donations, and lots of volunteer labor. The first public run was the “Santa Train” in December 2002. The name “Nevada Southern Railway” was chosen as a complement to the “Nevada Northern Railway” excursion line that runs in northern Nevada in Ely.