Nevada Northern Railway
National Historic Landmark     Ely, NV 

Become a Diesel Locomotive Engineer

Run a locomotive on a standard gauge main-line - Be the Engineer

Fast Facts

WHAT: You will be in control of one of our vintage diesel locomotives.  For the steam locomotive program click here.

WHEN: By reservation, so make plans in advance. 

WHO: You can share the experience with another person. Both of you will be in the cab and can take turns controlling the locomotive.

BRING: Work gloves, boots or sturdy shoes, long sleeve shirt and pants.

Purchase the DIESEL experience
Purchase the STEAM experience

Purchase DIESEL Gift Certificate Purchase STEAM Gift Certificate

Sign on as a Nevada Northern Railway diesel locomotive engineer for a day.  You (and a friend, if you like) will climb on board and experience what railroading is really like from the cab of one of our diesel locomotives.   To operate one of our steam locomotives click here.

What to Expect

Begin your experience by studying the safety training materials that our regular and volunteer crews learn from (download here).  There will be a test on the basics, but we are there to help you all the way through.  It is then time to head down to the century old Enginehouse and help prepare your locomotive for the day.  Climb into the cab, and learn how to operate the locomotive.  With two blasts from the horn your mentor engineer moves the locomotive out of the engine house and onto the mainline.

It's then your turn!  Climb up into the engineer's seat and receive personal instructions from your mentor engineer on controlling the throttle and airbrakes.  Once the basics are under your belt, the moment comes for you to notch out the throttle and head on the mainline up toward the mines.  You will be going through two tunnels and have the opportunity to notch out the throttle as we climb over 2.5% grades.  Up toward the end of the line there is a wye.  We will turn the locomotive and head back down to Ely, gaining hands-on experience with controlling a locomotive on a mountain grade.  This is real standard-gauge main-line mountain railroading on America's best-preserved railroad.


As with the steam program there are several options available with the diesels.   Most people come and take the locomotive out without a train attached.   It is an easier way to start, and requires less training.   Taking the locomotive out with a complete train adds the additional skill of controlling a train on our mountain grades with the diesel's dynamic brakes.   Early in your trip you will begin to appreciate the genius of the Westinghouse Air Brake system, and its complexities and limitations for mountain grades.   You will also learn the "technical" term for using up all of your braking capacity by applying and releasing your train brakes too often coming down the mountain grade.    

So what are you waiting for? You can have a hands-on experience with main-line mountain railroading.  Make your appointment with your dreams.  Use the calendar below to pick your date, or call and book your locomotive rental or train rental today at 1-866-40STEAM (1-866-407-8326).   You can run a diesel locomotive on the main-line of an American railroad!

P.S. What would be a greater holiday, birthday, or special gift than being at the throttle of one of our engines for a real engineer experience?   You can buy an "open ticket" as a gift and select the exact date later.

$30,000 Challenge

Matching Grant Doubles Your Donation

Now through December 31st your Donation or Membership gets Doubled!  Your $100 turns into $200 net to the Railway. Your $500 becomes $1000 net to the Railway. Full Details Here.

Made possible by a Matching Grant from the First National Bank of Ely.

Make Your Matching Donation Now

Renew/Start Matching Membership Now

(Yes, Matching still counts if you are renewing your membership early)

Locomotive Rental Frequently Asked Questions.

Engine availability is subject to a variety of both controlled and uncontrolled circumstances.   It is rare, but possible, that circumstances may require delays, substitutions, or rescheduling. Please contact us for details.

Prices and Discounts

Members receive discounts.   Memberships start at only $30.
No other discounts apply to this experience.

Be the Engineer OptionsMemberNon-Member
Diesel Locomotive Only (mainline-McGill Jct. route;14 miles)$545 $645
Steam Locomotive Only (mainline-Keystone route; 14 miles)$745 $845
Ultimate Package - Steam & Diesel (Locomotives Only - 2 trips)$945 $1,095
Diesel Locomotive freight train (mainline-McGill Jct. route;14 miles)$1,245 $1,395
Steam Locomotive freight train (mainline-Keystone route; 14 miles)$1,845 $2,095
Ultimate Package - Steam & Diesel (Locomotives with trains - 2 trips)$2,845 $3,195

Click here to view STEAM schedule.
Diesel experiences are available almost any day except Tuesdays,
so call us to discuss alternative times and dates if necessary
Hover over any available date to book your DIESEL Be the Engineer - Run a locomotive experience now.

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Be the Engineer / Locomotive Rental / Train Rental / Run a Locomotive

Comments from others who have done this (2)

Full StarFull StarFull StarFull StarFull Star 5/5 (2)
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redwingz (San Jose CA) says...
Shared the diesel rental this week with my brother-in-law and we both really enjoyed it. I previously did the Portola engine rental and the NNRR is an order of magnitude better, although it\'s considerably more expensive. And Ely is a bit harder to get to since it\'s in the middle of nowhere. A word of warning though: We hadn\'t been in Ely more than 5 minutes and I was issued a speeding ticket, and I wasn\'t even speeding. I was looking for a motel (hence driving slowly) and Read More
24th May 2014 10:22pm
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