V&T Locomotive No 2: Ormsby

From Carsonpedia


V&T Locomotive No. 2, also known as "The Ormsby", is a historic locomotive that once ran on the Virginia and Truckee Railroad. It was named for Ormsby County, one of the three original counties that were served by the V&T.


The Ormsby was built in 1869 at the H. J. Booth & Company works in San Francisco, CA. It was one of three engines ordered from Booth at the same time; #1 Lyon and #3 Storey were the other two.

The locomotive arrived in Reno in August or September 1869, and was dismantled and transported by wagon to Carson City in pieces. It joined the Lyon, which was already in town, and when regular service to Virgina City was established in early 1870 it was put to service hauling freight and passengers up and down to the Comstock.

The Ormsby was heavily used in the first few years of the railroad, but as newer and larger Baldwins were purchased this small engine quickly found itself no longer useful. In March of 1875 it was either sold or leased to M. C. Gardner at Lake Tahoe for $4,500, and renamed Mountaineer. Gardner was building a logging railroad on the south shore of the lake, at Gardner's Camp (today's Camp Richardson). Motive power was needed to haul cut trees from the forest to the lake, and the Ormsby fit the bill perfectly. Getting the large locomotive up to the Tahoe waters was no simple chore in 1875. Oxen pulled the locomotive up Kings Canyon and over Spooner Summit, with block and tackle being used around the particularly tricky curves. In all it took six weeks to move the locomotive 14 miles. Finally the Ormsby arrived at Glenbrook and was placed on a barge for a peaceful cruise across the lake to Gardner's Camp.

As the Mountaineer, the engine spent its time shuttling flats cars full of logs back and forth on the relatively short trackage of Gardner's railroad. There was never any official route, since the rails were constantly being shifted to follow where the lumbermen were working. Logs were hauled on the Mountaineer down to the water's edge, where they were floated in a protected harbor until a ship came along to tow them to Glenbrook.

In 1882 a dispute between Gardner and the V&T led to the Ormsby being repossessed and returned to Carson City. The engine was picked clean for parts, but the boiler was kept active and installed in the V&T shops. The boiler of the Ormsby remained a vital part of the V&T's machine shops and foundry until 1902, when it was finally overtaken by age. The remains of the locomotive were soon scrapped.


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