Now an attraction for rail enthusiasts and family fun, the McKeen motor car operated from 1910 to 1945 racking up more than a half-million miles between Reno and Minden. The prestigious car became a diner and an office but was rescued by the museum when it was donated by the Bernhard family of Carson City in 1995.
“After remarkable restoration, the car went back into service and carried passengers under its own power in 2010 to mark its centennial. It has been nominated as a National Historic Landmark,” said Peter Barton, administrator of the Nevada Division of Museums and History. It was previously recognized in the National Register of Historic Places.
The McKeen motor car is significant as a rare example of internal combustion engines for rail travel, which previously relied primarily on steam propulsion. McKeen experimented with streamlining and lightweight metals to lower costs. The savings helped preserve passenger and express service on lightly populated railroads across the United States, Barton said.
The Nevada State Railroad Museum on U.S. 395 is at 2180 S. Carson St. The museum also operates steam-ups with historic Virginia and Truckee Railroad equipment and outdoor exhibits on select weekends throughout the year. Special events are set for Memorial Day and July 4. Inside, the facility offers the recently renovated Jacobsen Interpretive Center and a glimpse at how Nevada’s railroads contributed to the state’s history and Western development.
McKeen motor car rides for National Train Day will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Ride tickets cost $10 for ages 12 and older and $5 for ages 4 to 11. Children 3 and younger are free. Museum admission costs $6 for ages 18 and up, and free for those 17 and under. The museum is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. to allow passengers to spend time at the exhibits before or after their trips and to visit the gift shop. For more information, contact Lara Mather at 687-6953 ext. 224 or visit nevadaculture.org.