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Nevada \ Carson & Colorado Railroad

Carson & Colorado Railroad

I ncorporated on May 10, 1880 as the Carson and Colorado Railroad to serve mines in south western Nevada with plans to build as far a south as the Colorado River. Construction on the railroad began on May 31, 1880, and Keeler Ca. (then called Hawley) was reached on August 1, 1883. While the first year of operations turned a small profit, plans to extend the railroad further were shelved. Teetering on the brink on insolvency the railroad was reorganized in 1892 as the Carson and Colorado Railway and for the next 8 years turned a small profit. These earnings were not enough to satisfy the investors and In 1900 the Virginia and Truckee Railroad, the parent company of the C & C, sold the line to the Southern Pacific Company.

Two months after the sale to the SP, Silver and gold discoveries at Tonopah, Nevada and later discoveries in Goldfield, Nevada (1904) created traffic levels unheard of until that point and the SP made a return on its investment. The northern 140 miles from Mound House to Mina, Nevada was standard-gauged in 1905; and the C & C was merged into the Southern Pacific's narrow-gauge subsidiary, the Nevada and California Railroad. The Nevada and California Railroad was reorganized into the Central Pacific Railroad in 1912. Portions of the line were abandoned in the 1930s and the 1940s, and operations ceased entirely by 1960.

Revised: August 29, 2015.

Reference Material Available Online:


Southern Pacific Narrow Gauge: Shangri-La is a state of mind.
Trains magazine's first online feature article Published: Friday, August 21, 2009


Collected Carson & Colorado Railroad Photographs.

Collected Nevada & California Railroad Photographs.

Collected Southern Pacific Narrow Gauge Railroad Photographs.
Images collected from private collections, libraries and historical societies.

Southern Pacific Narrow Gauge - Owens Valley, CA, January 11, 1960 by Hart Corbett.

A Life Wasted Chasing Trains - SP Narrow Gauge by John West.
Scenes captured during 1959-1960, including 4-6-0 #9's final run on August 25th 1959.

Equipment Rosters.

Carson and Colorado Freight Cars 1881 - 1900.
Compiled from notes curtesy: Brian Norden, Randy Hees, Kyle Wyatt and State Railroad Commission Reports.


Route of the Southern Pacific (Narrow Gauge) circa 1916 for Google Earth.
By Andrew Brandon


Virginia & Truckee Railroad Tonnage Blotter Journal, 1881; pages 26-32 PDF icon 2.6MB
Courtesy: Special Collections, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries.
These final pages of this ledger contain blacksmith shop time records for the Carson and Colorado Railroad, including: "Fifty New Cars (Not Including Trucks)", "Trucks for four new cars" and "Four trucks for 2 New Hay Cars"

Paint Reference.

Color referenece card for Carson & Colorado Freight Equipment 1881 - 1900 by Randy Hees and Andrew Brandon. PDF icon 1.0MB
Paint samples taken from the remains of Carson & Colorado Boxcar/Reefer #344.

Carson & Colorado Railroad: Flat Car #102, circa 1883 by Andrew Brandon. PDF icon 1.4MB
Illustration of a Detroit Car Works built 22' flat car.


Carson and Colorado Railway.
A 501(c)3 non-profit group dedicated to the resoration and operation of former Southern Pacific narrow gauge #18.

Southern Pacific Narrow Gauge Historical Society.
Dedicated to the study of the Southern Pacific narrow gauge lines and their predecessor roads.


Inventory of the Carson and Colorado Railway, 1887-1916.
California State Railroad Museum Library

Nevada \ Carson & Colorado Railroad
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