By Rick Barlupi


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Train’s A Comin’! Imagine yourself operating a full-sized diesel locomotive on real railroad trackage, wearing an engineer’s hat, blowing the whistle and grinning from ear to ear. This dream can come to life through the “Run-A-Locomotive” program (R-A-L) at the Western Pacific Railroad Museum located at Portola, in scenic Plumas County, California. Their world famous “Run-A-Locomotive” program allows you to rent a vintage diesel locomotive and operate it on the museum grounds, under the close supervision from your own private qualified engineer instructor. A certificate suitable for framing is awarded after every locomotive rental. The R-A-L program permits up to four persons to receive instructions while sharing the cost. There are no age restrictions but parent supervision is required for children under the age of 18.

[media-credit id=1 align=”alignleft” width=”300″]david-epiing-museum-manager-instructor-600x464[/media-credit]David Epiing, Museum Manager-Instructor The Feather River Rail Society operates the Portola Railroad Museum and owns most of the equipment housed in their facility. The theme is a living museum replicating a small railroad locomotive facility typical of the 1950`s & 60`s with one of the largest and most historic collections of diesel locomotives in the United States. The 37-acre grounds include a 16,000 square foot shop building and two and one half miles of trackage. The total number of various locomotives is 40 and the quantity of passenger, caboose, and freight cars are 85. Unlike other railroad museums, this facility encourages visitors to climb into the locomotive cabs, sit in the engineer’s seat and wonder through the cabooses and passenger cars that are on display. “Our visitors enjoy an `up close and personal, hands-on` experience of what it was like to be around such a railroad facility,” says David Epling, Museum Director & Manager. “If you leave here clean, you did not see it.” The museum is open 7 days a week; hours are 10:00 a.m to 5:00 p.m daily the first Saturday in April through the first Sunday in November. Admission is FREE, donations suggested. Museum is located at 700 Western Pacific Way Portola, California. BEFORE YOU VISIT… Browse or call 530-832-4131 for information regarding highway directors, museum events & exhibits, the caboose train rides, the well-stocked gift shop and R-A-L reservations. Also contact the City of Portola at for area accommodations, dining, visitor’s center hours and information about the 27th Annual Railroad Days Festival.