Virginia and Truckee No. 12 Genoa

Virginia & Truckee Railroad No. 12 Genoa is a classic example of the conventional 4-4-0 American-type steam locomotive, the standard engine of most railroads in the United States for nearly three decades. By 1870 over half the locomotives in the nation were of this type. The 4-4-0 wheel arrangement was designed for maximum traction, power and speed. The light-weight and compact nature of the engine made it very flexible for all types of track conditions and train operations.

By 1873, the year the Genoa was completed, the 4-4-0 had reached a mature design with calculated proportions, improved details, a graceful appearance, and an elegance and effectiveness which remained unchanged for nearly a quarter of a century.

The Virginia & Truckee Railroad Company was organized in Nevada on March 5, 1868 to connect the Comstock ore-producing mines with quartz-reduction mills located along the Carson River, approximately three miles east of Carson City. The twenty-one mile standard-gauge line between Carson City and Virginia City was completed on January 29, 1870. A thirty-one mile extension south from Reno through Franktown, Washoe City, and Steamboat Springs connected the Comstock with the Central Pacific Railroad in August 1872.

The wood-burning Genoa was outshopped in January of 1873 by the Baldwin Locomotive Works of Philadelphia. For nearly thirty years No. 12 hauled passenger, mixed and occasionally freight trains for the Virginia & Truckee Railroad between Carson City, Virginia City and Reno, Nevada.

Early Virginia & Truckee engineers liked to operate the Genoa, believing her to be one of the fastest of the railroad's original twenty-four steam locomotives. For this reason, it saw considerable duty on special and excursion trains. When requisitioned for freight service, the Genoa easily handled up to seven of the Virginia & Truckee's fully loaded wooden freight cars. Locomotives were once colorfully painted and trimmed. Shop wipers worked at 25 cents per hour for ten-hour days to polish brass fittings and keep V&T locomotives sparkling. The Virginia & Truckee took great pride in its maintenance procedures, and the passenger locomotives in particular received special attention. By 1902 the paint scheme of locomotives on the Virginia & Truckee and most other railroads, had been simplified considerably with black replacing the bright colors of earlier years. Even then, the Genoa retained most of her brass trim and V&T crews continued to provide careful maintenance and cleaning.

By 1908 passenger service had declined to a point where the locomotive was no longer needed for revenue service. On December 31, 1908 No. 12 was retired to a stall in the Carson City enginehouse. As she had run only 3,246 miles since her last overhaul, she was stored in prime operating condition.

The locomotive remained in storage until 1939 when, after sale to the Eastern Railroads Presidents' Conference, it left for the East Coast to begin a two-year career in excursion and display service. The Genoa was modified to represent Central Pacific's No. 119 Jupiter for performances in the Golden Spike scene at the pageant "Railroads on Parade" during the New York World's Fair (1939-1940). It also operated at the Chicago Railroad Fair in 1948. After the Chicago fair, ownership was transferred to the Pacific Coast Chapter of the Railway & Locomotive Historical Society which in turn presented the locomotive to the State of California in 1969.

In 1969 the Genoa again appeared as the Jupiter in the one hundredth anniversary celebration of the completion of the transcontinental railroad held at Golden Spike National Historic Site, Promontory, Utah.

After its last wood-fired operation under steam in May 1979, the Genoa was restored to its 1902 appearance. It is displayed in the Great Hall of the Museum of Railroad History, pulling Virginia & Truckee combination car No. 16 across an 1884 Phoenix Bridge Company cast-iron railroad bridge.