For a number of years Carson City Railroad Association members hoped for a place to build and operate a live steam railroad. An opportunity came in the Spring of 1977 when the golf course near the center of town became a city park. CCRA contacted the city about their desires for at least an acre of the new park area where a live steam railroad could be built.
Over the next two years meetings were held between City officials and CCRA representatives. In October, the club met with Bill Kreider. He submitted a formal proposal to CCRA asking for a ten year lease to operate on trackage to be built by the club. An agreement voted in unanimously and maps for the park railroad were drawn up and approved by the City Parks Superintendent.
Meanwhile, CCRA had been working to secure financing for the railroad. In June of 1980 they were successful. The club was awarded $20,000 from the Fair and Recreation Committee to start laying track.
Several thousand ties were ordered and delivered. 100 pieces of old Carson & Colorado Railroad 30 Ib. rail were purchased in Lone Pine, California. In addition, another truck load of rail was purchased from the Silver Peak mining area. The name Carson & Mills Park Railroad was decided upon and the line was off and running.
The C&MP's big day came on the Fourth of July, 1981. By this time a loop-to-loop, 1/2 mile railroad had been completed (phase 1). Also by this time a "snow shed" had been constructed to house the train and protect it from the elements.
The railroad had the appropriate grade crossings, complete with cross bucks, speed limit starts and even a small yard area for extra rolling stock. The Fourth of July was scheduled as official opening day and everyone in Carson City was invited to attend the festivities. Various city officials took part in a spike driving ceremony and the fledgling park railroad carried nearly 2000 people over the holiday weekend.
In March of 1982, the club acquired a steam engine and passenger car as well as enough rail to begin phase 2 of the railroad (a 1/2 mile semi-circle running generally westward). Throughout much of the following summer work on the new section progressed. In October the last ties and rails were laid in place. (The railroad is now over a mile in length and it takes some 15 minutes to make the circuit). The western extension is especially beautiful, as it falls almost entirely within the park's cottonwood stands.
Credit for the railroad's swift completion to the many, many people that helped when they could, often donating whole weekends to the project. In all, over 7500 hours of volunteer labor went into the project. Several hundred hours were donated by trustees of the Nevada State Prison. Service clubs, such as the Sertoma, donated time and even materials. Many businesses in Carson City donated everything from gravel for the ballasting to free lunches for the prison trustees. A complete list of all those who helped would take pages. It was a large job and it was carried out without any major problems or injuries to any of those involved. To many it was plain hard work but to many it was also a labor of love. The Carson City Railroad Association is proud to have had a part in making Mills Park a place where everyone, especially children, can come to enjoy themselves and have fun.