This all happens at the Fort Wayne, Indiana Railroad Historical Society. The locomotive is their World War II vintage switch engine that they use to move rolling stock around the museum grounds just outside of the city of Fort Wayne.
It works this way. For 129 dollars you reserve a date to become an “Engineer for an hour” for an extra 75 bucks they will hook on one of their cabooses and your family and friends can ride in the caboose while you pull it around the yard with the locomotive.
It has been a fund-raising project for the historical society for several years.
I got my chance to try it on summer’s evening. The engineer took me into the storage barn where they keep the locomotive and explained how to start the behemouth. He then slowly eased it out of the barn onto the societies private half-mile long set of tracks and begain a lesson in how to drive the train. (Can you rub your stomach and pat your head at the same time?) And after giving me a few lessons in sounding the horn he stepped aside and said, “take me around the yard”. I pulled the whistle, released the brakes while at the same time advancing the throttle and swiveling my head around to check that the track ahead was clear.
It was like operating the ultimate electric train! I got to blow the whistle and ring the bell. I could stop and start the locomotive to my hearts content and I even got to practice slowly backing the locomotive up to hook it to the caboose. What a power trip!
This would be a great birthday gift for the man or woman who has everything and especially for those that have never given up their toy electric trains. This is the real thing.
As I said it is by reservation only. The Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society is located at 15808 Edgerton Road, New Haven (A Fort Wayne Suburb), Indiana, 260-493-0765 or visit them on their web site, www.765.org
Fort Wayne, of course, is just a One Tank Trip.