Loon mountain offers ‘guest engineer’ program on steam-powered je henry railway

By AlpineZone News |
Jun 06 2011 - 10:35 AM

Lincoln, NH, June 2, 2011: New Hampshire’s Loon Mountain, New England’s most-accessible mountain resort destination known for its year-round recreational offerings, is now appealing to train enthusiasts, too. The Guest Engineer Program will be back this summer to offer guests the chance to operate a wood-fired, steam-powered, narrow-gauge locomotive. The program will be offered four times this summer and fall, beginning in early July.

Loon’s engine runs daily during the winter months on its JE Henry Railway, transporting skiers and snowboarders between two of Loon’s base areas. Even though the distance is short and the trip takes only a few minutes, a ride on the “Loon Train” is one of the most memorable experiences for families who visit Loon during the winter.

The JE Henry Railway, with its German-built 0-4-0T engine, harkens back to the trains that were commonly found around New England over a century ago. Loon’s engine was built in 1934 by Orenstein & Koppel, known as O&K, a major engineering firm specializing in railway vehicles, escalators and heavy equipment. Before it was brought to the US, the engine was used in Germany during World War II. Originally built to burn coal, the engine was retrofitted to burn wood when it came to Loon back in the late 1960’s. The engine burns approximately 60 cord of wood in one season and it takes about two hours to fire up each morning — just a part of what will be covered in the Guest Engineer program.

Each session for the Guest Engineer Program at Loon Mountain will run approximately six hours and includes a primer on the basics of steam operation, safety procedures, a brief history of Loon’s locomotive, close up look at the engine, start up procedures and close down/put away. Each participant will also have an opportunity to operate the engine for a minimum of a half hour (actual time will be dependent on number of participants). This year’s program will be offered July 8, August 5, September 9 and October 7 and is open to a maximum of five participants per session.

Cost per session is $100 per person and lunch is included. Participants must be at least 18 years old and dress appropriately in long pants, long sleeved shirt, boots and work gloves. Start time is 9:00 a.m. Reservations are required and can be made by calling Loon Mountain at (603) 745-8111 or 800-229-LOON (5666).