Coach No. 3 Silver State

This narrow-gauge passenger car was completed in December of 1881 in the shops of the Nevada Central Railway at Battle Mountain, Nevada. It was possibly constructed using the trucks and the underframe of a former passenger coach originally manufactured (circa 1870s) in Monterey, California. It was the only passenger car built by the Nevada Central Railway, which ran between Austin and a Central Pacific connection at Battle Mountain. Among the features of the bright yellow car are a "saloon" (toilet) and a marble washstand.

Christened the Silver State for the Nevada state motto, the coach saw irregular service as a first-class car on the Nevada Central until the early 1900s when it was placed in storage at Battle Mountain. When the railroad was abandoned in early 1938, the car was donated to the Pacific Coast Chapter of the Railway & Locomotive Historical Society. It appeared at the Golden Gate International Exposition in 1939 and 1940 lettered as Central Pacific for the daily pageants depicting the 1869 Gold Spike ceremony. From 1940 until 1977, No. 3 remained in storage in the Bay Area.


In 1969 the Silver State was donated to the State of California for future display in the Railroad Museum. Restoration efforts began in February 1977. The coach was examined and thoroughly documented for restoration to its 1881 appearance. New exterior wood was applied, worn parts replaced, and all colors matched to the original paint. The oil-painted headlining cloths, brittle with age, were fully replicated by hand on fine linen canvas. (The original ceiling cloths have been removed and preserved by the Museum.) The interior walls proved particularly interesting: they are embellished with an intricate pattern of birds and flowers. Remnants of the designs appeared while the walls were being sanded and were restored to their period appearance. Elaborate multi-color floral brocade seat upholstery replaced the worn floral mohair plush material. All hardware in the car was replated with silver to match the original finish which is typical of an 1870s/1880s passenger car.

The Silver State appears on the main floor of the Railroad Museum as part of a typical 1880s narrow-gauge passenger train pulled by North Pacific Coast steam locomotive No. 12, the Sonoma.