Time travel isn’t possible yet, but people who want a dose of railroad history can visit the Oklahoma Railway Museum for a look at a restored 1930s-era steam locomotive.
“Hank” is on loan to the museum from a private collector and will be available to ride this weekend and next at the museum’s Oakwood Dept., 3400 NE Grand Blvd. The locomotive was restored in 2001 and is one of a few steam engines operating in the United States.
“It’s a Vulcan engine and they were used in industries during the 1900s all the way into the 1930s,” Oklahoma Railway Museum board secretary and railway enthusiast Drake Rice said. “This one was used by the Flagg Coal Company in Pennsylvania and it was restored in 2001. Most trains run on diesel electric and so people really don’t have the opportunity to see a steam engine. The line we operate on in Oklahoma probably hasn’t seen a steam engine on it since the 1950s.”
The locomotive will provide rides by pulling a passenger car at 9:15 a.m., 11:15 a.m., 1:15 p.m. and 3:15 p.m Saturday and April 26. Tickets are $18 for ages 3 and up.
Friday, people who want to drive the locomotive for 30 minutes can do so for $125. Participants will be under the supervision of a qualified engineer. Tickets can be purchased at www.oklahomarailwaymuseum.org.
Proceeds will benefit the museum including an ongoing project to build a new depot across the street from the current facility.
The locomotive requires thorough maintenance. Engineers add oil and water and when necessary coal. The complex nature of the locomotive is part of its attraction.
“It takes a lot of tender loving care,” Rice said. “You’ve got a lot of oiling and greasing. It has to have water every so often. You have to put coal in it every so often. That’s why the railroads moved to diesel electric because they were easier to maintain. After every run you have to check things to make sure they’re not loose.”
Rice said the allure of trains remains something that is timeless.
“There is something about the romance of the rails,” Rice said. “Seeing the things you can see. It’s an experience that people love.”