McKeen Car on Parade. The NSRM's restored V&T Motor Car #22 makes one of several runs around the museum's loop track during the morning "Parade of Trains" on July 4th weekend in 2017.
In an effort to cut costs and reduce the need for steam-powered passenger trains, the Virginia & Truckee purchased a 70 foot long McKeen Motor Car in 1910. Looking more like an antique boat than a railcar, and powered by a 200 hp gasoline-burning engine, this machine could carry 54 passengers as well as some baggage. Although it was originally envisioned for use on the Virginia City line, one trip up the hill proved that she was unsuitable for the tight curves and close clearances on that branch. Word has it that her heavy steel body whacked the Gold Hill Depot building and did some damage...to the building, that is. The McKeen was pressed into service on the on the 15-mile Minden Branch, where she then served for many years.
When passenger service declined in the 1930s, she was rebuilt as a Railway Post Office and ran daily service from Reno all the way to Minden. She was finally retired in 1945 and the body was sold off to become a diner for many years in Carson City. It later saw service as the front office of a plumbing supply house. It was donated to the Nevada State Railroad Museum in 1996 and later underwent a complete restoration.
Today, Car 22 occupies a stall in the museum annex and is operated several times a year. Only the body is original. The trucks and much of the interior are reproductions. Power is supplied by a caterpillar diesel, portions of which can be seen through the open door to the motorman's compartment. Power is applied to one set of wheels only and instead of being chain driven, she is now driven hydraulically. Although she can operate in reverse, sustained operations are and always have been conducted with the pointy end forward.