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by Harry Spencer
The Twain Train
Passengers who opted to take the V&T Wine Train on October 13th received an added treat. That treat was in the person of McAvoy Lane who bills himself as the “Ghost of Mark Twain”.
Resplendent in his signature white linen suit, droopy moustache and full head of hair plus meerschaum pipe, McAvoy was the spitting image of a youthful Mark Twain. As he has done his impression literally all over the world he has developed a raspy voice which he uses to tell tall tales.
For his appearance on the V&T Wine Train he arrived at the East Gate Depot early and mingled with the passengers. At precisely 5 p.m., the train got rolling and McAvoy started a long and interesting monologue, while assuming the persona of Mark Twain. During the picturesque trip along the Carson River Canyon, he performed in one of the two passenger cars. He was abetted by the fact that the train has a state-of-the-art sound system.
During the outward bound trip several hostesses in period costume strolled the aisle, while pouring wine for the passengers. They also provided a special treat in the form of individually wrapped packets of hors d’oeuvres.
As the locomotive moved to the other end of the train for the return trip, McAvoy positioned himself in the second passenger car and delivered his monologue once again.
As to the passenger cars themselves, they are in pristine condition despite the fact they are each over a hundred years old. Every seat has the unique ability of the backrest being able to be rotated so that you are always facing forward. The spacious windows are all of three feet high, so that every seat has a commanding view of the rugged high-desert Nevada terrain.
When the train approached the depot on the return trip, the engineer kept it going until it reached the V&T Railway Overpass above Highway 50. Once there, he parked the train for several minutes to the delight of traffic passing below. Drivers were flashing their headlights and sounding their horns in approval while the passengers cheered.
Once back at the depot, the throng was entertained by a musical interlude performed by Squeek Steele in the depot’s authentic western saloon.
During the train ride, McAvoy made it a point to shake everyone’s hand in the passenger cars, answer their questions and pose for selfies. He also continued to visit with the passengers at the end of the ride in the saloon.
An interesting side note is that only white wine was served on the train, in deference to the carefully restored wicker seating; however, once back at the depot copious amounts of red wine was served and enjoyed by everyone.
Adjacent to the depot, is a separate building that houses a large, well stocked gift shop replete with historical books and souvenir clothing.