Transportation Museum allows customers to operate train

  • Posted: Saturday, October 22, 2011 12:01 a.m.
    UPDATED: Wednesday, April 18, 2012 12:21 a.m.

SPENCER ó The North Carolina Transportation Museumís ìAt the Throttleî program returns for a second season in November and December, offering visitors the chance to live out their fantasy of running an antique steam locomotive.
No previous locomotive experience is required. The program is simply a unique opportunity for rail fans to live their dream of running a steam engine, taking a trip back in time to the golden age of railroading. A qualified engineer will be in the cab at all times, but participants will be operating the engine, following a 30 minute safety and operation session.
The program debuted using the Flagg 75 Steam Locomotive last year. Sessions quickly sold out and plans began for a second season of ìAt the Throttleî offerings. The museum has again partnered with the Gramling Locomotive Works to allow visitors to purchase 30 minute sessions at the throttle of the 1931 Lehigh Valley Coal No. 126.
The Lehigh Valley Coal No. 126 is an authentic early 20th century steam locomotive. Originally created by Vulcan Iron Works in 1931, the engine spent its entire working career in Pennsylvania, first used by the Lehigh Valley Coal Company and later the Heidelberg Coal Company.
The engine was later sold to a scrap dealer in Carbondale, Pennsylvania, where the engine was stored. The No. 126 deteriorated until its rescue in 1993 by the Gramling Locomotive Works. Now completely restored, the engine looks and operates as it did when it was first built in 1931.
This yearís ìAt the Throttleî sessions will take place Nov. 5, 12, 19 and Dec. 3, 10, and 17. Sessions will be held between 9:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. each day. Sessions are $150 for each participant. N.C. Transportation Museum members receive a discount. Rides can scheduled by calling 704-636-2889, ext. 237, or by emailing sara.gettys@nctrans.org. Gift certificates are available, as the program makes a unique and memorable holiday gift for any rail fan.
Participants must be at least 18 years old with a valid driverís license. Release forms are required. Clothing appropriate to a working rail yard should be worn at all times. Jeans or overalls and boots are recommended. Participants wishing to have their picture made should bring a camera.
Friends or family or a member of the crew can take a photo of each participant ìAt the Throttle.î

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