Nevada Northern Railway
National Historic Landmark        Ely, NV

It's time for you to be up in the cab, on the engineer's seat and drive the train
Ease out the throttle and head up the hill toward the Ruth mine
These SD-9's are often refered to as Cadillacs by those who operated them.<br>Let's get her ready today and head out to the main line.
Whistle for that grade crossing           —  —  º  —
<br>From now on, it will always be more than just a will have done it!
Two can share the Engineer experience
Just returning from their run, a big thumbs up on this experience!
	<br><a href='' target='_blank' <em>Click here to hear thier experience driving a train.</em>

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 out on our original main-line.  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.

Book the DIESEL experience
Book the STEAM experience

Buy DIESEL Gift Certificate
Buy STEAM Gift Certificate

Can I Drive a Diesel Locomotive?

Yes, you can drive a Diesel locomotive. 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.  The locomotives we use for these runs are our original road diesels that have decades of real revenue experience here on our mainline hauling ore.    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 further as we climb over 2.5% grades.  Up toward the end of the line there is a wye.  We will turn the locomotive and then you will head back down to Ely, gaining hands-on experience with controlling a locomotive descending 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.

Locomotive Rental Frequently Asked Questions.

NOTE: Participants must be able to climb up to the cab unassisted. Due to the harsh environment in locomotive cabs, no medical devices or assistance, such has oxygen, is possible.  You must be over 18 years old and have a valid driver's  license to operate locomotive.  One rider, 12 years or older, may ride along in the cab at no additional cost. (standing room only for rider).

Engine availability is subject to a variety of both controlled and uncontrolled circumstances. Both steam locomotives are over a century old and even the "new" diesels are a half-century old. It is rare, but possible, that circumstances may require delays, substitutions, or rescheduling. Please contact us for details.

Prices and Discounts

Be the Engineer OptionsMemberNon-Member
Diesel Locomotive Only - mainline 14 mile round trip$760 $895
Diesel Locomotive freight train - mainline 14 mile round trip$1,913 $2,250
ALCO and EMD Diesel Locomotives - 2 trips$1,275 $1,500
Steam Locomotive Only - mainline 14 mile round trip$995 $1,170
Steam Locomotive freight train - mainline 14 mile round trip$2,847 $3,350
Ultimate Package - Steam & Diesel - Locomotives Only - 2 trips$1,696 $1,995
Supreme Package - Steam & Diesel - Locomotives with trains - 2 trips$3,953 $4,650

If you're ready to book your Be The Engineer - DIESEL  experience then hover any available date below to book!

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Click here if you still have a question about this program.

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

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Comments (6)

John Barber (Prescott, Arizona, US) says...

Did the diesel Be-The-Engineer experience today. Great time. Mike and Josh, the Engineer and Brakeman were great, helped me learn what I needed to know and guided me through the trip. Well worth it, can't wait to do the Steam engine.



John, glad that you enjoyed it!!  We will pass your comments on to Mike and Josh.  Thanks!

Dano (NewarkCA) says...
I had high hopes for the Be the Engineer Diesel experience. The fun I had was beyond all my hopes. It was pure magic. Thanks so much for making a dream come true!
Admin: Dano, Thanks for writing.  Glad that you enjoyed it!  We can relate to how much fun it is to take on of the diesels out on its original main-line.  We enjoy running the weekday excursion trains ourselves.  Hope to see you back again sometime.
Gary Nielson says...
Experience that we will never forget. Was the engineer on the diesel (#204), steam (#40)and spent the night in the bunkhouse. Kudos to the team at Nevada Northern for providing such an experience. Had a blast! Thanks to Don and "Big" John!
Karen (Newtown PA) says...
I\'ve been a rr junkie since I was born. My dad was an engineer. First steam,then Diesel. I went out in August with a diesel. A wonderful experience. What huge power! I too never knew this was a bucket list thing, until I did it. Cute town, great drive up from las vegas. Very cool to tell about. Thanks everyone!
Admin: Karen,

We are glad that you enjoyed it!  Thanks for coming up to Ely to take the diesel out on our mainline.
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 the cop insisted I was doing 50 in a 35 zone. The town (and the towns on the way to Ely) are rigged as speed traps. It made what would have been a wonderful trip somewhat sour.
Pete or rePete (GlenwoodNM) says...
Drove EMD SD9, something I have always wanted to do since I was a little kid. It was more than great; I hope to do it again!