My Experience Running A Locomotive


I have spent a lot of my summer volunteering at the Western Pacific Railroad Museum in Portola, California.  My hubby and our whole family have been involved with the museum for years!

Starting this year, the museum can no longer afford to pay someone to manage and run the Gift Shop.  That also includes opening the gate and being open for visitors.  Because of this, we were looking at the strong possibility of not having the museum open everyday… in fact, maybe being closed a lot during the week.  Feeling that this would be a great shame, my hubby and I decided that we would step up more and I would volunteer to operate the gift shop three days a week and he would volunteer much more, too.  Although it wears me out quite a bit due to my Parkinsons, it has been a wonderful opportunity!

I have gotten to meet a lot of amazing people whom I would not have been able to come into contact with otherwise and have learned a lot more about the Western Pacific Railroad and trains in general.  We have visitors from all over the nation and very often have visitors from other countries!

This last Friday, I had the opportunity to learn to drive a locomotive!  I had been in cabs before and had kind of “driven” a train, but hubby was always practically (if not actually) holding my hand and pretty much doing it for me.  Those were great experiences, too, but Friday really put those to shame!

Since part of what I do when I volunteer at the museum is answer questions about the “Run A Locomotive” Program and set up reservations, my hubby decided that I should see what it was really like.  I was nervous, yet excited.  The picture above is the engine that I drove ~ Southern Pacific EMD GP9 2873!

I was tensed up, because this time he wasn’t right over my shoulder and I was REALLY the one doing it all….with his constant observation and instruction, of course.

I kept thinking that I was going WAY too fast, but when I looked up I wasn’t even going ANYWHERE near 10 miles per hour…lol  I did my best work stopping the train.  I repeatedly stopped it at exactly the spot where I was supposed to.  Hubby assured me that doesn’t always happen and sometimes it takes the whole hour (I only did probably about 15 minutes) for the student to get it right and sometimes they never get even close.  So, I’m pretty proud about that!  By the way, if you didn’t already know, my hubby drives freight trains for a living.

It was an amazing experience!  If you ever get the opportunity, I HIGHLY suggest that you do it!  Our museum was the first place ever that you could “Run A Locomotive” and today we are one of the very few museums with this opportunity!  It doesn’t cost anywhere near where you would expect it to, either.  Prices start at $175 (this was a few years ago, so the cost could have gone up) for the entire hour and you can have multiple people for that price (it’s not per person).  Check it out here!

Maybe when you call to reserve your “Run A Locomotive” experience, I will be the one to answer your call!  If so, let me know that you learned about it here!  If you are interested in learning a bit more about the engine I drove, you can check it out here.

So what are you waiting for???  Call today!   😉

You can also check out the time we were  Driving a Speeder on Train Tracks or when Conductor Jon Jon Became an Engineer on the same engine.

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