Preserving a Legacy

One man’s determination to chase the future would bring rails to the West’s frontier. Founded in 1880 as the Nevada & Oregon Railway, the railroad was born in the heart of Reno, NV. Financial struggles, slow progress, and a shootout which led to new owners and a new name: the Nevada & California Railway. But there was one more shakeup before the re-established NEVADA – CALIFORNIA – OREGON RAILWAY would lay its final rails to Lakeview, Oregon in 1912.

Under the guiding hand of John T. Davies, and later the Moran Brothers, tracks laid along the eastern slopes of the Sierra Nevadas would establish new places and connect rural communities. Names like Chat, Doyle, Amedee, Waverly, Termo, Madeline, Alturas, Fairport, Lakeview, and others would each become home to a whistle stop, freight siding, or depot along the line of the N-C-O Ry.

Like all good things, this era ended when the N-C-O Ry. was sold to Southern Pacific Railroad. By 1929, the narrow gauge locomotives pulled their last trains, the line was changed to standard gauge, and much of the equipment and rolling stock was transferred to other railways, scrapped or sold off to the local ranches as bunk houses or sheds. A chapter in railroad history had come to an end and the narrow gauge legacy began.

Join us as we dive into the 50 year history of one of America’s longest narrow gauge railways. As a non-profit historical society, we are working together with researchers, preservations, and volunteers like you to bring to life the legacy of the N-C-O Ry. Explore our website and visit our Facebook page to learn more. Volunteer, subscribe, and become a member today!

Mission & Vision


A nonprofit historical society dedicated to preserving the legacy of the Nevada California Oregon Railway.


To bring together people interested in preserving Nevada California Oregon Railway history.

To collect, archive, preserve, and restore equipment and artifacts relating to the Nevada California Oregon Railway.

To perform research and documentation in relation to the Nevada California Oregon Railway.

To establish exhibits in order to educate the general public of the history of the Nevada California Oregon Railway.


To become a foundational entity in the region telling the stories of the people, the communities, and the industries touched by the Nevada California Oregon Railway.

To be recognized as an integral partner in the historical community for research, collections, preservation, and education.

To be a positive force within the communities connected by the Nevada California Oregon Railway.

Our Objective

The Nevada-California-Oregon Railway and its Board of Directors, have laid out the following objectives as our focus for the next few years:

Who Has What

Create an archival reference catalog of all documents, photographs, and artifacts in various institutional and private collections.  Maintain for future public and research reference.

Where in the World

Create a real-time list of the location, condition, and future movements of any rolling stock, locomotives, and other equipment. Provide site surveys, photographs, and research on each.

N-C-O in Pictures

Build a photo archive following the mission and purpose of the collection.

Working on the Railroad

Document the history and experiences of all those connected to the railway.

  • Founders and Presidents: the story of the N-C-O Ry from 1879 to 1929
  • Employees: their experience working for the railway
  • Passengers: what was it like taking the N-C-O Ry
  • Shippers: what did the N-C-O Ry carry and for whom
  • Suppliers: who were the businesses and people supplying materials to build the railroad.


In addition to these four areas of focus, the Society will work to acquire the remaining rolling stock still in private ownership. The objective will be to ensure proper preservation in accordance with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties. As time and resources permit, it is our goal to have these artifacts available to other organizations, institutions, and academics to study as preservation and restoration work is completed.

Board of Directors

Shane J. Starr – President –

Serves as District Representative for Congressman Doug LaMalfa, CA-01. In his capacity, Shane works directly with the constituents, communities, and counties of Modoc, Lassen, Plumas, and Sierra. Shane previously worked for the State of California as an appointee under Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger serving as Special Assistant to the Chief of Staff. There he managed special projects and the Governor’s international trips. Shane is an alumnus of the Great Valley Center Public Policy Fellowship, and CSU, Chico where he graduated with a B.A. in History, and teaching credential in Secondary Education. Shane has had a lifelong interest in railroad history. Growing up in Oroville, CA, he became a fan of the Western Pacific Railroad and its Feather River Route. Shane resides in Alturas.

Eugene Vicknair – Vice President –

Is co-founder and principal in Driven Innovation, a product development company in Silicon Valley.  He is also a member of the Feather River Rail Society, a 501c(3) museum in Plumas County dedicated to preserving the history of the Western Pacific Railroad, since 1985.  Since 1999, Eugene has served on the FRRS Board of Directors and as their corporate secretary.  Among his major projects for the FRRS are spearheading the design of a museum Master Plan, including innovative display buildings for the facility.  Eugene holds a BS – Industrial Design degree from San Jose State University with additional studies in Business Management, Psychology and Electrical Engineering.

Andrew Brandon – Secretary –

Serves as Curator and Archivist for the Nevada County Narrow Gauge Museum located in Nevada City, CA. Andrew has studied railroad history for over 25 years, becoming an expert in site surveys or railroad equipment and facilities. In his work, Andrew is a prominent resource in original paint evaluations and re-creation, along with schematic drawings of original equipment. Andrew also serves on board of directors for the Southern Pacific Narrow Gauge Historical Society. In 2009, he helped found, a website dedicated to researching narrow-gauge railroads around the Pacific Rim. In 2018, Andrew published, Railroads of Nevada County, an Arcadia Publishing Co. history book.

Laura K. Snell – Treasurer –

Laura Snell has been the Livestock and Natural Resource advisor in Modoc County for over 5 years with UC Cooperative Extension. She has also been the Modoc County Director since 2017. Laura received her B.S. in Water Science and M.S. in Agronomy with a Range Science specialty from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. She specializes in navigating the public/private land interface working collaboratively with public and private land managers, policy makers, and the public on issues such as wild horse management, post-fire grazing, water quality and quantity, and rural development. She has been involved in the Society for Range Management, Wildlife Society, Public Lands Council, and several local advisory groups. Laura enjoys helping clientele address local problems with on-the-ground solutions and mentoring the next generation of land managers. When she is not working, she is hiking with her dog Zuri and helping her husband, Shane, with the Nevada-California-Oregon Railway. 

Elizabeth Cavasso – Director and Editor of the newsletter

Elizabeth retired after 37 years as a wildland firefighter with the U.S. Forest Service. She fought fires in the United States, Canada, and Australia. For 20 of those years, she was a member of teams that managed complex wildfires and other incidents such as hurricanes, tornadoes, and the 9-11 attack at the Pentagon. She is in her second term as a Modoc County Supervisor, District IV.  Elizabeth is an active Rotarian and has served on the Alturas Rotary Community Foundation since 2015 as their Chair. She is an avid snow skier and spends pockets of time traveling nationally and internationally with her husband when not working at her family-owned businesses (Modoc Steel, Car Quest, Subway, and the historic Niles Hotel). She was raised in the San Francisco Bay Area and studied oceanography at U.C. Santa Cruz before moving to Alturas in 1975.

Sam McGrath – Director

An employee of Goose Lake Railway serving in several capacities, Sam has long had a strong interest in railroading, railroad history, and heavy equipment. He previously worked for Ballard Terminal Railroad in Seattle, WA. Prior to that, he worked in heavy industry maintaining scales and weighing equipment. Sam currently lives in Lakeview, OR.

Kevin Schindler – Director

Kevin has been a lifelong railroad history scholar, photographer, and modeler with his specific interests and pursuits being focused on narrow gauge railroads. As a photographer and former graphic artist, he brings his eye and experiences for presentation and interpretation to our collected archives and artifact acquisitions. He was a founding member of the Arcata & Mad River Railroad Historical Society located in Arcata, CA which has since been absorbed into the Timber Heritage Association. Kevin graduated from Humboldt State University with a B.A. degree in Geography. Kevin has retired from Federal Express finishing a 24 year career as a Courier in Humboldt County, CA. He now resides in Redding, CA.

Matt Starman – Director

Matt Starman currently works as an Estimator for Franklin Building Supply in Caldwell, Idaho. He brings 14 years of hands-on railroad experience including the operation and maintenance of steam locomotives. He spent time helping operate and maintain Yreka Western #19, as well as assisting in the restoration of Medford Corporation #4, a Willamette locomotive housed in Medford, Oregon. He has had a lifelong interest in history and in particular railroad history. He co-authored the book “Yreka Western Railroad” published in 2011 by Arcadia Publishing. He is also one of the founding members of the Treasure Valley Historical Railroad Society in Southwest Idaho. He also does metal fabrication and welding in his spare time. When not doing something train related, he and his wife run and maintain their small horse ranch in Greenleaf, Idaho.

Gus Paoli – Director and Archivist

Gus is a Ph.D. Candidate at the University of Nevada, Reno researching the history of railroads in the U.S. West. Over the past four years, Gus has focused his research on the small railroads that have not been studied in great detail and are largely forgotten. Gus became interested in the history of the Nevada-California-Oregon Railway during his research because very little has been written about the history of this railroad despite the important role it played in the history of the U.S. West. Gus graduated from Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon in 2016 with a B.A. in History and B.S. in Animal Science and in 2018 with a M.A. in History of Science. Gus is a native of Elko, Nevada and currently resides in Reno, Nevada