IMPORTANT: It's a Serious Matter of Life

Retro Tech: The McKeen Motor Car

By: Gretchen Winkler
Co-Host, User Friendly 2.0 Saturday’s at 5:00 p.m.

The McKeen Motor Car

About a week or so ago I had the opportunity to visit a railroad museum in Carson City, Nevada.  It’s a small museum called Nevada State Railroad Museum, Carson City.  But they have some nice displays and real locomotives of an age long gone.

Massive steam engines that used to burn wood or coal to create the heat needed to make these engines go are lovingly housed within a building accompanied with informative presentations about how the transcontinental railroad changed America during 1869.  The railroad tech brought out west meant that everyone planning to go out west didn’t have to ride in a stagecoach, wagon, or on a horse.  It opened up travel for more people.  Typically we see movies about the evil railroad barons, so we forget how important it was to have this new technology connect our country.  The convenience of modern technology like a train brought people, commerce, information, and spread  new cultures all over the region.  It’s a lot like cell phones.  It changed how we do everything.

New kinds of train design were constantly in motion and in the years between 1905 to 1917 the McKeen Motor Car Company in Omaha, Nebraska built a unique design that ran on an internal combustible engine using fuels like gasoline or diesel combined with electricity.  These designs were influenced by engines made for ships and because of this, there were problems with maintenance and usage.  The vibrations from being on land and the lack of well informed mechanics caused situations that made these motor cars difficult to use.  Other complaints concerning the engine were lack of power and no easy way to reverse.  No reverse was not a problem on ships but with land based vessels like a train on a track, it was a problem.  

One of these “trains” is located in Carson City, NV.  It is reported to be the only fully restored one of its kind, and it was worth taking the time to see it.  It took fourteen years to restore.

Number 22 built in 1910  that served on the Virginia and Truckee Railway was a marvel to see housed in the back warehouse.  It has an art deco steampunk look to it.  The nose is pointed like a ship’s bow and the back is rounded like a ship’s stern.    The amount of brass fittings are impressive along with the numerous round windows, which are just like a boat.  The interior is almost luxurious compared to any modern transit tram with it’s leather seats and windows that can be opened.  It also had a small bathroom in the mid section where passengers boarded.   According to the volunteer museum host this train ran twice a day between Carson City and Reno.

If you are a train enthusiast, then this little museum should be on your list.  Our pictures are not the same as interacting with the staff about the details of the restoration nor seeing this locomotive marvel in person.  To find out how to see McKeen 22, go to https://carsonrailroadmuseum.org/

William (Bill) Sikkens has been an on-air technology expert since 2014. With an expertise in I.T., cyber security and software design he has had more than 20 years’ experience with advanced technology. Sikkens conceptualizes and designs custom applications for many professional industries from health care to banking and has the ability to explain the details in a way all can understand.  Article edited by Gretchen Winkler, who along with Jeremy Winkler are the co-hosts of User Friendly 2.0 here on The Answer Saturday’s at 5:00 p.m.

Links and brand/store information provided are for information only and are not endorsed by Salem Media Group, KPAM or the show's hosts.  

Got a technology question or comment for Bill? Follow him on Twitter @sikkensw



Salem News Channel Today

On-Air & Up next

See the Full Program Guide