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August 18, 2019

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Tourism boost: Train route linking Boulder City, Henderson could add stops

The Southern Railway in Boulder City is Reconnected to Henderson

Wade Vandervort

Student engineer Joe Franco stands on a train engine while it is stopped during an event to celebrate the driving of the final railroad spike reconnecting the Nevada Southern Railway from Boulder City to Henderson, Friday, April 13, 2018.

The Nevada Southern Railway Reconnects Boulder City to Henderson

U.S. Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) drives a final spike into a railroad track during an event to celebrate reconnecting the Nevada Southern Railway from Boulder City to Henderson, Friday, April 13, 2018. Launch slideshow »

With a few strikes of a pair of silver spikes on Friday Gov. Brian Sandoval and U.S. Sen. Dean Heller restored the Union Pacific rail line between Henderson and Boulder City for the first time in three decades.

The Railroad Pass Bridge part of the Boulder Branch Line, once a vital link to transport materials during the construction of Hoover Dam in the 1930s, saw its first train action since 1985 when Sandoval and Heller joined more than 100 others on its maiden voyage over the 363-foot bridge.

“This is another example of ensuring we restore and preserve the history of Nevada,” Sandoval said. “This is a great is experience for people to have, to come and enjoy this train and catch a train and come to Boulder City, cycle to Boulder City and have lunch, explore the history there and take the train back.”

The opening of Art Deco-style Railroad Pass Bridge not only creates another avenue to travel between the two cities, it creates a new line of economic development as well, officials said.

The Nevada Southern Railway route begins at the Nevada State Railroad Museum in Boulder City and stops just after passing the bridge in Henderson near the Railroad Pass hotel. Plans are to create multiple stops in Henderson.

One station is tentatively planned for the Fiesta Henderson and the other on Water Street in downtown Henderson, said Jill Lagan, chief executive officer of the Boulder City Chamber of Commerce.

“This is an excellent opportunity to add to that tourism experience,” Lagan said. “It will enhance the tourism in Henderson as well as the tourism in Boulder City. We’re also looking at a public, private partnership with a trolley company that can take visitors in to the historic district in Boulder City and down to the Hoover Dam. So, a full experience, from Henderson all the way to Hoover Dam.”

The extended plan is in its early phase, with the next session of the Nevada Legislature being key to land funding for the planned project, Lagan said.

Plans also call for the Nevada State Rail Museum to build a new facility with a covered loading zone for the train attraction.

“That’s exciting and you get a longer train ride, which, for the tourism aspect, gives them (Boulder City) more to work with,” said Barbra Coffee, director of economic development and tourism for the City of Henderson. “For Henderson it’s great to have the railroad museum in our backyard and we can work closely together to cross promote different activities.”

The train ride offers another unique attraction in the region, Sandoval said.

“People are looking for something different,” he said. “They like to go to Red Rock, Valley of Fire, but now they can have an authentic historical experience and take the train from Boulder City (to Henderson). Now you’ll be able to enjoy the Strip, you can go to a football or hockey game and now you can also get on a train, which everybody loves to do.”

The Nevada Southern Railway has rides 10 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1 p.m. and 2:20 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Adults are $10, children (ages 4-11) $5 and free for children under 3. Museum members ride for free.