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Death Valley Motor Car to Begin Tourist Operations

Press Release; To; USA Media, Inyo-Register, Bishop Chamber of Commerce Date; February 13, 2001 Subject; Tourist Railroad Monday night, the proposed Tourist Railroad, and the Railway Restoration Grant, cleared it's last major hurdle when the City of Bishop agreed to participate in this railroad project. By a 5-0 vote, the City Council agreed to of the Grant funding match, and become partners in this very worthy project. Since the County of Inyo approved the other of the Grant funding match (approximately $48,500) at their meeting on February 6th, the Grant Application now moves to the Local Transportation Commission. The local citizens have continuously indicated their support for this wonderful project. Former Supervisors Lefty Irwin, Warren Allsup, and Bob Michner expressed their support to the board at the February 6th meeting. Long time local residents Shirley Fendon, Ken Lloyd Sr., Bob Tomko, and Stanley Smith also voiced their support for this project. If the Local Transportation Commission approves this project as expected, environmental work could begin in early summer. Inyo County Public Works Director Jeff Jewett designed a complete project schedule, which indicated that the preliminary construction design work could start early next year. The residents of the Owens Valley have been discussing this project for almost 25 years. Early in January of 2000, Jim Saylor found an old map of this exact route planned in 1975, by Bob Dinsmore, then head of Laws R.R. Museum. This small map gave the O.V.R.C. a route to Bishop, and put this project in motion. Using a copy of Bob's map, the O.V.R.C. located the old Owens River Valley Electric Railway line grade. Most of the grade is a dirt road today, and needs very little repair to become a railroad grade again, even though it was built in 1911. The Railway Restoration Grant will restore it to an operating railroad again . The restored Death Valley Motor Car will be the transportation vehicle. Under the guidance of project manager, Jim Pittman, the O.V.R.C. volunteers and Laws Museum, are working to complete the restoration by early 2002. The volunteer crew of workers have contributed over 960 volunteer hours to this restoration project. Seven local residents have logged over 110 hours each on the O.V.R.C. rail projects. They are Jim Pittman, Jim Saylor, Jon Anderson, Jim Morrow, Tom Dearth, Paul Thompson, and Andy Pucio. Any railroad buffs wishing to participate are urged to come out on Saturday morning to the Train barn at Laws Museum. Watch for a new billboard sign on Main street, donated by Local Attorney Gerard Harvey, to be lettered in early March. It will depict the old 1927 Death Valley Motor Car as it used to be many years ago.


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