City of Fernley and Union Pacific Railroad celebrate 150 years

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Courtesy City of Fernley

Join Union Pacific and the City of Fernley for a Golden Spike Presentation celebrating the 150th anniversary of the railroad reaching Fernley.

The event will include speakers from both Union Pacific and the City of Fernley, with the presentation scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 23 in the lobby of City Hall, located at 595 Silver Lace Boulevard.

Fernley, established in 1904, developed primarily as an agricultural and ranching community in proximity to Reno. The Southern Pacific Railroad completed the Fernley and Lassen Railway in 1914, and a suitable depot was constructed in Fernley. This railway, 112 miles in length, located between Fernley and Westwood, California, was constructed to connect the Red River Lumber Company’s facilities in Westwood with the Southern Pacific’s main line running through Fernley.

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After the railroad’s construction, it was heavily used by other nearby lumber companies; the Fruit Growers Supply Company maintained the longest-lived railroad connection with the Fernley & Lassen, with an active connection present between 1920-1953. Use of the Fernley and Lassen Railway significantly declined during the Great Depression, along with the completion of Western Pacific’s competing branch to Westwood.

By 1934, passenger traffic service had been discontinued, with local rail freighting following it in 1956. In 1978, the Interstate Commerce Commission approved the Southern Pacific’s petition for removal.

The Fernley-Lassen Depot is one of only two remaining buildings in Fernley on the National Historic Registry. The Depot is under sole control of the City of Fernley, and the building’s interior has undergone significant restoration.

The City worked with the Nevada Department of Transportation from 2004 until 2010 to administer more than $950,000 in grant funds for rehabilitation of the Depot. In addition, the City has received $360,000 in grant funds from the Community Development Block Grant Program; these funds are currently being used to construct a sewer line to the property to allow for working restrooms.

For additional information regarding the Fernley-Lassen Depot, please contact Colleen Unterbrink, Assistant to the City Manager at (775) 784-9851.

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