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See the Wild West as you ride these historic rails (tickets go fast)

The Virginia & Truckee Railroad offers excursion rides along historic routes in Northern Nevada.
The Virginia & Truckee Railroad offers excursion rides along historic routes in Northern Nevada. Courtesy Weidinger Public Relations

Rail fans, get ready. Two of Nevada’s top summer attractions get rolling this month, offering chances to ride historic routes on vintage rolling stock. Tickets go fast.

Close to Sacramento is the Virginia & Truckee Railroad traveling a 16-mile route between two towns rich with history – Carson City and Virginia City. The journey follows the same path the historic trains used to carry passengers, cash and the diggings of the Comstock Lode.

Departures commence Saturday, May 27, and continue Saturdays and Sundays into October. Trains leave at 10 a.m. from the Carson City passenger depot off U.S. Highway 50 East, four miles from downtown and journey into the Eastern Sierra Nevada along the Carson River. The route passes deserted mines and goes through two tunnels before arriving in Virginia City for a four-hour stay before returning. Often herds of wild mustangs can be spotted, and this year, the Carson River is running high.

Virginia City, historic home of the Comstock Lode of silver ore, offers plenty of sightseeing, including the historic cemeteries (one headstone reads “I Told You I Was Sick”); Piper’s Opera House, where British actress Lily Langtry – among others – performed; and the wonderfully restored Fourth Ward Estate School. Other locations are associated with the pre-Mark Twain Samuel Clemens, including the newspaper he wrote for, The Territorial Enterprise.

The train is pulled by a 1916 Baldwin Consolidation 2-8-0, and there are several special trips on the schedule, such as a Wild West Wine Run and melodrama and mystery dinner rides. Tickets are $32-$52 and free for those under 3. (Tour descriptions and tickets at vtrailway.com; 877-724-5007)

Farther east, the Northern Nevada Railway has started its 30th-anniversary season in Ely, Nev., offering a chance to be the engineer; geology trains; a Pony Express Limited with celebratory postage and horseback rides; and more. The Eclipse Express on Monday, Aug. 21, includes viewing glasses for that day’s solar eclipse. ($31 adults, $15 children 4-12; nnry.com)

At the casinos

Entertainment options at the casinos are limited this week with only Cache Creek having a headliner, singer/comedian Wayne Brady, with two shows Saturday, May 20 (7:30 and 10 p.m.; $39-$55; cachecreek.com). Brady is star of “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” and “Let’s Make a Deal,” and he played Aaron Burr in a limited Chicago run of “Hamilton.” Also Cache Creek presents a free concert by Los Bondadosos at 5 p.m. Sunday, May 21.

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