Friday, 11 April 2008

The Jackass & Western Railroad

The Nevada Railway Museum at Boulder City has a diesel locomotive with an interesting history. It was built by General Electric in March 1953, makers number 31827. It's described as a 'B-B-160/160'. The customer was the United States Navy and it carries its 'Navy Plates' - 'LOCOMOTIVE DE 80 TON 56-1/2 IN GA 0-4-4-0 CLASS'. It took me a moment to realise that '56-1/2 IN GA' just meant standard gauge.

The locomotive was eventually transferred to the Atomic Weapons Testing Site in Nevada, which had its own internal railway. The lighthearted title of 'The Jackass and Western Railroad' stuck and the name appears in black on each side of the yellow-liveried locomotive.

In the Atomic Testing Museum in Las Vegas, there is a model of the railway on the test site which seems to have been used as a training aid. I also found the 'Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity' authorising the operation of the railway on the test site. This was issued on 7th April 1975 by the Public Service Commission of Nevada and allows the Jackass and Western Railroad to operate a freight and passenger service within the confines of the Nevada Test Site. It's not thought that a passenger service was ever operated. A copy of this certificate is held at the Railway Museum at Boulder City.

On the day I visited the railway museum, the locomotive was 'stopped' due to problems with the water pump.

My pictures of the prototype, the model and the certificate.