Death Valley Motor Car to Begin
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 ½ of the Grant funding
match, and become partners in this very worthy project. Since the County
of Inyo approved the other ½ 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.