The little engine that could: National Museum of Industrial History has hands-on train engineer experience
A hands-on train engineer experience on a newly-restored narrow gauge locomotive is being offered by the National Museum of Industrial History, 602 E. Second St.. Bethlehem.
The museum’s “Bethlehem Steel Locomotive Engineer Experience” runs every first and third Saturday of the month through October 2021.
Restored by museum volunteers and staff to working condition, the orange 1941 Whitcomb diesel-electric locomotive was a workhorse at Bethlehem Steel Corp.’s south side plant in the Electric Furnace Melt Shop where it moved charging buggies filled with scrap metal.
The little engine now operates on a 100-foot demonstration track where participants can climb into the cab, learn how the locomotive works, then take the controls under the supervision of museum personnel.
Former Bethlehem Steel electrician John Mikovits is one of the volunteers who helps with everything from electrical wiring to painting.
The former Bethlehem Steel employee says, “We did a lot of work, but we also had a lot of fun,” as he recalls servicing most of the other narrow gauge locomotives during his career.
A favorite, No. 21, which is undergoing renovations, was called “The Dinky” by Mikovits and his fellow steelworkers back in the day.
Mikovits, a Navy veteran trained in electronics, is also one of the engineers providing “drivers’ education” to those interested in taking the controls of the little locomotive.
Each educational activity is limited to two adults or one adult accompanying one child. Offered between 11 a.m. - 4 p.m., Friday - Sunday, during the museum’s modified hours, each session lasts approximately 20 minutes and is weather-dependent. Cost of the program is separate from museum admission.
Inside the museum, “Machines of Interest: The Selected Works of Stephen Mallon,” continues through Aug. 29.
Mallon provides a captivating look at working railroad locomotives, rolling stock, decommissioned New York City subway cars, a rusting ship and other metal objects consigned to the scrap heap or ocean floor.
Information: www.nmih.org; 610-694-6644