KBR Wild Horse and Burro News

Wild Horse Project Gets Recognition

  Lacy J. Dalton's Comstock Wild Horse & Mining Museum Wins Nevada's 2003 Governor's Tourism Development Award
Story date: November 6, 2003
Stuffed into a restored antique rail car is one of the more interesting points of interest in historic Virginia City, NV. The rail car, one of the rarest in the world, houses one of the area's most unusual tourist attractions.

Rail car No. 13, was custom built for the Virginia and Truckee Railroad, locally known as the "V & T," for hauling gold and silver bullion from ore rich Virginia City. Half the wooden car sported a steel reinforced bullion vault and the other half was conventionally built and housed an accounting office.

Now the rail car has taken on a new life as a museum to the bygone mining area and to the "Comstock" free-roaming wild horses; descendants from horses used during the gold and silver rush.

As Lacy J. Dalton explains it:

We have one of the largest wild horse herds in the country right here on the Comstock near Virginia City. Because they free-roam on private property, these horses are not protected by the Federal government and designated as "wild" under the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act. They re deemed to be "estray" or "feral" by the Nevada Dept. of Agriculture.

Our so-called "estrays" are descendants of domestic horses that were turned loose from mining operations, cattle ranches, wagon trains and private persons who could not feed their animals. During one winter in the late 1800s, hay sold for as much as $800.00 per ton in "coin." This was an enormous amount of money for that time.

Turned out to fend for themselves, these horses managed to live and prosper. The herd grew. Today there are about 1000 horses on approximately 360 square miles of mostly private property up in the Virginia Range. We have been told that the optimal number of horses, determined by a scientific study completed in 1998, is 550 head for the 83,000 acres designated as the study area.

"We at Let 'em Run are in the process of creating a sanctuary where visitors can come view the horses in their natural habitat. Here they will be protected, preserved and the population managed humanely. Visitors will be able to view caregivers at work for the sick, injured and orphaned and observe the gentling process of the ones awaiting good homes through adoption. The sanctuary will be a wonderful place for visitors to experience the "magic of mustangs."

Lacy J. Dalton

The museum / gift shop is the first significant step toward realizing this dream.

View of some of the artifacts and old photographs in the former bullion vault

Continue to Part Two

Content and images 2003 KBR Horse Net and Let 'em Run Foundation.
Museum photos by Bob Retzer. Mare and foal photo by Lisa McKenna. All rights reserved.

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