A few tickets left for popular "At The Throttle" event at NCTM

SPENCER - The N.C. Transportation Museum's "At the Throttle" engineer experience starts March 1, with participants taking the reins of the "Iron Horse" and living out their dreams of operating a vintage steam locomotive.

The chance to enjoy this unique opportunity is drawing participants from all over the Southeast and across the country, according to the NCTM.

Mark Brown, Communications Director for the NCTM told WBTV that so far, tickets have been sold across North and South Carolina, from as nearby as the museum's hometown of Spencer, to one participant making the trek from Del Mar, California. Virginia, West Virginia, Indiana, Tennessee, Pennsylvania and Georgia are also represented among this year's "At the Throttle" ticket buyers.

Tickets are still available, but are becoming limited.  Sessions are held March 1, 8, 22 and 29 and April 5, 12 and 26, held each half hour between 9:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.  N.C. Transportation Museum members receive a discount.  To purchase "At the Throttle" tickets for yourself or a gift, simply call 704-636-2889 ext. 257 or 237 or by email david.marshall@nctrans.org or sara.gettys@nctrans.org.

No previous locomotive experience is required.  "At the Throttle" is simply a unique opportunity for rail fans to live their dream of running a steam engine, taking a trip back in time to the golden age of railroading.

A qualified engineer will also be in the cab at all times, but participants will enjoy a full half hour operating the engine, following a safety orientation. The museum has again partnered with the Gramling Locomotive Works to bring the 1931 Lehigh Valley Coal #126 to the N.C. Transportation Museum for this amazing experience.

The Lehigh Valley #126 is an authentic early 20th century steam locomotive. Originally created by Vulcan Iron Works in 1931, the engine spent its entire working career in Pennsylvania, first used by the Lehigh Valley Coal Company and later the Heidelberg Coal Company.  The engine was later sold to a scrap dealer in Carbondale where it was stored.  The #126 deteriorated until its rescue in 1993 by the Gramling Locomotive Works. Now completely restored, the locomotive looks and operates as it did when it was first built in 1931.

Participants must be at least 18 years old with a valid driver's license.  Release forms are required.  Clothing appropriate to a working rail yard should be worn at all times.  Jeans or overalls and boots are recommended.  Participants wishing to have their picture made should bring a camera.  Friends or family or a member of the crew can take a photo of each participant "At the Throttle."