|Virginia & Truckee Railroad No. 13 Empire|
Virginia & Truckee Railroad General Superintendent Henry M. Yerington ordered steam locomotive No. 13 early in October 1872, soon after the Nevada short line had completed its connection with the transcontinental Central Pacific at Reno. The V&T had become taxed beyond capacity with freight and passenger traffic. Carloads of freight destined for the Comstock crammed nearly all of the sidings and yards on the 52-mile line. Deluged with business, the V&T found itself without an adequate number of steam locomotives and passenger cars to handle the increase in traffic. Superintendent Yerington solicited the Central Pacific and Union Pacific Railroads for surplus engines and was able to rent several CP American-type locomotives on a monthly basis. This solution was only temporary however, and Yerington reluctantly concluded that the railroad needed additional motive power.
Locomotive No. 13 was delivered to the V&T in February of 1873. Empire was an appropriate namesake: Empire City, located three miles east of Carson City, was an important territorial town and station on the Overland Route, and site of several cord wood yards and ore reduction mills. The engine quickly entered freight service on the line from Virginia City to Carson City and Reno. From the late 1880s to 1902 as frantic traffic conditions abated, the V&T held No. 13 in reserve. With an upswing in the economy, the No. 13 received a major overhaul and was once again placed in regular freight service. In 1910 the Carson City shops converted the Empire from wood to fuel oil. Because V&T engine crews considered No. 13 an unlucky number, the number was changed to V&T second No. 15 at this time.