Portola is one of the only towns in California where you can learn operate a train. In California, it's pretty easy to rent a car or even a moving van, but not many places let you rent a locomotive. That is, unless you visit The Western Pacific Railroad Museum in Portola. The small town is one of the only places where you can learn to operate a train.
Bil Jackson is the chief mechanical officer. He takes student train operators through the process. "It's not like starting your car. There are a lot of safety check lists that need to be done," Jackson said. Normally it takes years of practice to operate a locomotive, but at the museum, they bend the rules. The "Run-A-Locomotive" program allows students to rent vintage diesel locomotives and operate them. Students move back and forth on a designated track under close supervision. "We put you in the seat and you operate the train," Jackson said.
Locomotive rental fees range from $225 - $350. After completing your engineer experience, you will receive a certificate. After your lesson, check out the museum. Portola and the Western Pacific Railroad Museum is 48 miles north of Truckee in Plumas County. Click the video below to view the story: