Nevada Northern Railway
National Historic Landmark      Ely, NV



Hands-On-History Adventures

Run a Locomotive - Ride with the Engineer - Winter Photoshoot - Railroad Reality Week


The time has come! The student engineer is ready to head up the hill<br>toward Keystone under the supervision of our instructor engineer.
Air brake training at Railroad Reality Week
Whistle for that grade crossing with your train in tow.
	<br>From now on, it will always be more than just a dream...you will have done it!

Experience Hands-On-History – Time stopped here. It’s as if the workers went to lunch and never came back. They left behind a complete railroad, now a National Historic Landmark; the grounds include over 70 buildings, structures and 30 miles of track. This is not your typical museum. Here you experience the history – Hands On!  

But be warned. The railroad is gritty. It’s dirty. It smells of coal smoke, creosote, and sweat. It is not a recreation, but the real McCoy*! It is not a mishmash of equipment from different railroads, but it is the original century-old equipment. Locomotives and cars that are still doing today, what their designers and builders intended over a century ago, hauling trains. You can be part of it, very up close and personal!

Spend a Night at the Railroad


Stay overnight right in the East Ely Railyard

Yes, you can actually spend the night in the middle of a National Historic Landmark Railroad. You have two choices.  You can sleep in a real, working caboose that was delivered here band-new for freight service in 1955, or in your own room in the Bunkhouse. In either case, don’t be surprised to hear whistles and chuffing of steam engines early in the morning as your alarm clock.

Ride with the Engineer, up in the cab


Ride up in the locomotive with the Engineer

You will be "front and center" for a journey to the past. This is your ticket to a locomotive ride along with the engineer and the fireman, up in the cab of one of our steam locomotives or vintage diesel engines as we head up toward the Old Ruth Mining District from the East Ely yard. You will see the railroad as very few visitors ever have the chance to see it.

Be the Engineer

Climb up to the Real Thing!

Be the Engineer

Be the Engineer - Your Hand on the Throttle


Be the Engineer of a Steam Locomotive

The invention of the steam locomotive changed everything! Humans were no longer dependent on either wind power or animal power. The steam locomotive opened up continents! History doesn’t get any closer than this. You’re in control of one of the original Nevada Northern Railway STEAM locomotives, running it on the original mainline, with your hand on the throttle and brake. This is  the same track that these locomotives have been operating on for over a century. Can you tame the Iron Horse?

Looking for more of a challenge? There is the option of adding a complete train to your trip!

Be the Engineer - DIESEL


Be the Engineer of a vintage Diesel Locomotive

Every day throughout the country DIESEL locomotives are hauling trains. Here’s your chance to see the world from the cab of a Diesel locomotive. You’ll be operating one of our original, vintage Diesel locomotives with your hand on the throttle. We also will be running it on the original mainline, with your hand on the throttle and brake. Road crossing coming up, get ready to blow the horn.

Looking for more of a challenge? There is the option of adding a complete train to your trip!

Winter Steam Spectacular Photoshoot


Be part of the photoline this year

Join photographers and railfans from around the world as they descend on Ely to witness history being remade. You will join the photo line as we pull out the best and finest locomotives and rolling stock, most of which was delivered here over a century ago.

Railroad Reality Week


Be part of the photoline this year

You’ve heard the stories, read about it, or you’ve seen television programs like Hell on Wheels. But what was it really like to work on the railroad? Here’s your chance to spend a week and find out for yourself what Workin' on the Railroad really means. It’s Hands On.

We start the week with the same safety training class that our own staff and volunteers have to attend annually. Yes, there really will be a test on the material when class is over. Why? Because you will be part of the team that gets trains over the hill.  During the week you will experience all aspects of the operations here.  Fast forward to Graduation – Operating a diesel locomotive and switching in the yard.

Are you up to the challenge?

Gift Certificates

The PERFECT gift for your Railfan, Historian, or Explorer

Certificates are available for:
  • Be The Engineer - STEAM
  • Be The Engineer - DIESEL
  • Ride with the Engineer
  • Railroad Reality Week
  • Winter Photo Shoot Weekend
  • Gift Membership
  • Click on the link to buy a Gift Certificate

    The Nevada Northern Railway Hands On History Experiences isn’t virtual reality. This is real, in your face, how it was, and still is, railroading. Experience the Real McCoy* experience for yourself. Get your hands on some history!

    * The Real McCoy - meaning the real thing. The phrase has been associated with Elijah McCoy's oil-drip cup invention. Railroad engineers looking to avoid inferior copies would request it by name, and inquire if a locomotive was fitted with "the real McCoy system”.

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