My kids gave me a really fun father’s day present that I was able to collect on this past Saturday. I’ve always been a fan of railroads. My grandfather was a conductor on the Denver & Rio Grand Western Railroad and like most kids, I was fortunate enough to have a model railroad that I developed with my father.
Well, Saturday, I was able to take control of the OERM 1956 at the Orange Empire Railway Museum and their "Run One" program. It puts you in control of a locomotive by your own hands. After about 2 minutes of instruction of the rather basic controls, the instructor sat me down and said "Go."
I had about a mile worth of rail in a straight line. I spent next next hour going forward and back and trying to do so in relatively graceful manor (or at least as graceful a 115 ton engine can be). My kids started getting bored pretty quickly which wasn’t helped by the increasing tempuratures (it was 85 when we arrived and 102 when we left two hours later). I tried to engage them by letting them control the throttle or switching the engine from forward to reverse. That helped a bit. To be honest, I think the idea of controlling something that large is mostly lost on children especially since the concept of trains and their historical significance is all but uncomprehensible for them these days of overnight shipping and easy cross-content air travel.
It really was a blast and if you ever enjoyed building and running a model train, I believe you would enjoy it as well. My only complaint was that it didn’t include tasks like hooking up cars or dealing with switches. All-in-all, it will be something I’ll long remember.