TTRR Mural in Beatty, Nevada

The Story of the Reappearance of T&T No. 1

by Laura Cunningham


The history behind the mural involves State of Nevada and Nye County funding to aid small towns in increasing tourism and general beautification. The town board of Beatty had been wanting a mural for years and put out a bid for artists.

The mural scene will show T&T engine #1 pulling into the Beatty Depot, which was located not far from the site, with people waiting and waving from the sidelines, ca. 1920s. A miner with a burro looks on from the desert, while a group of wild burros crosses the tracks just before the train. The Bare Mountains rise in the background.

The mural committee in town was made up of anyone interested in giving input for how the town should look and chose as the subject, a historic train mural showing the old Beatty depot and bits of local history. The Janda Ribbons building was selected for the location. That faces Hwy 95 and is visible by drivers heading into town from the south. The owners of the building, the Cottonwood family, were quite gracious in allowing us to construct a large wooden framework a few feet away from their building. The mural is 10 feet high by 92 feet long, enough for the whole train, and is made of steel panels riveted to the frame for windproofing. The frame construction was done entirely by Beatty volunteers -- Thank you!

See it just north of the Ensenada Grill.

We then applied white priming to the panels. I made a pencil sketch of the drawing in exact scale to the wall, marked with a grid of squares. I placed larger-scale squares on the wall that matched the drawing's layout, and began transferring the drawing onto the wall, square by square. This is an old Renaissance technique, and it still works today!

Next, I began outlining the drawing in reddish paint, and applying some shading. This will be mostly covered up with a layer of full-color paint. It acts as an underpainting to guide the final colors and adds a bit of flare to the colors.

Special care in choosing the paints had to be done, as our location is a difficult one for murals. We have a west-facing aspect, open to the sun and rain. I chose the highest-quality light-fast acrylic pigments formulated by Golden Company for outdoor work. None of these colors will fade in the sun because they are mineral-based and not dye-based. For example, the reds are based on red ochres and oxides. Special acrylic polymer mediums are used to bind the pigments to the panel with a very strong finish. Upon completion the mural will be coated with a high-quality UV-protective varnish. We are looking into an additional wax coat that will be easy to clean of any graffitti.

The steel panels are removable in case the mural needs to be relocated in the future. I am planning on this mural lasting at least 20 years, and I hope much longer.

Laura Cunningham

Matt Liverani, a long time T&T tracker, sent me this June 2016 shot of the finished mural.


TTRR IconTonopah & Tidewater Railroad

9th June, 2016