Nevada Northern #93, Gold Medal Spirit
When the Nevada Northern Railway (NN) was built in the early 1900s, the company knew they would need large locomotives to handle the heavy loads of copper being transported out of local mines. One of the first orders the railway placed for new locomotives included the locomotive that would be known as Nevada Northern #93. Her legacy would be established over the next several decades, culminating with her being the last steam locomotive to operate in revenue service. Let’s take a look at this powerful locomotive that is still steaming!
Brief History of Nevada Northern #93
Built in 1909 by the American Locomotive Company (Alco), Nevada Northern #93 is a coal burning steam locomotive that features a 2-8-0 wheel arrangement, known as a Consolidation type, and was in the first four new Consolidation type steam locomotives delivered to the railroad company. While the mines and railroad would change ownership over the next several decades, Nevada Northern #93 remained a popular choice to lead freight trains. While the other Consolidation locomotives in her order were scrapped in 1952, #93 continued to serve the railroad in some capacity for almost another decade.
Although the Kennecott Copper Company, the operator of the Nevada Northern at the time of #93’s retirement, could have easily scrapped the locomotive, the company donated her to the White Pine Public Museum for static display in 1961. The next three decades would see NN #93 take a beating from being in the elements. An agreement between the White Pine Public Museum and Nevada Northern Railway Museum saw the #93 return to NN shops in 1990. After three years of intense restoration efforts, Nevada Northern #93 traveled via her own steam in 1993 and began excursion service shortly after.
Unfortunately her excursion career came to a halt on June 17th, 1995, when #93 struck a flat car of ties that had come loose. The locomotive, which was leading an excursion train and traveling 60 mph, saw significant damage to its cabin and frame, though no one was seriously injured. While some locomotives may have been scrapped at that point, Nevada Northern #93 was once again restored to operation. This restoration involved rebuilding the boiler to comply with recently passed legislation.
Once restored, NN #93 was able to return to service, beginning with the 2002 Winter Olympics in Utah, where she operated on the Herber Valley Scenic Railway to help provide transportation to the facilities at Soldier Hollow. The locomotive would continue to operate excursions including a special one to celebrate her 100th birthday. She was taken out of service in October 2016 for her federally mandated boiler inspection; but by early 2018 she was steaming again.
Nevada Northern isn’t the only heritage railway with Consolidation type locomotives. In fact, Virginia & Truckee #29 is still steaming on the ‘Queen of Shortlines’.
Since returning to action in 2018, NN #93 has remained a member of the Nevada Northern Railway Museum’s active fleet for the heritage line, running excursions from the depot in Ely, Nevada. The museum offers several different excursions and experiences throughout the year to get visitors up close to #93 as well as the other preserved railroad equipment (both steam and diesel) in the fleet.
To learn more about the current roster and upcoming events, be sure to visit the Nevada Northern Railway Museum website.