Have you ever driven a steam locomotive? The Oklahoma Railway Museum features Lehigh Coal Co. No. 126

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Far from its former home in a Pennsylvania coal mine, a steam locomotive affectionately named “Sadie” makes its way along an Oklahoma bypass on a sunny spring morning.

The Lehigh Valley Coal Company never wanted this engine to leave the quarry during its life from May 1931.

Oklahoma Railway Museum president Eric Dilbeck said, “He’s been in the yard pretty much his whole life, going back and forth at five to 10 miles per hour.”

Full steam ahead Sadie! Photo by KFOR.

But since it was restored in 2011, Sadie has traveled the country offering first-timers like me the opportunity to be in command, meaning under the watchful eye of Mr. Dilbeck.

It’s pretty simple once you get the hang of it, push the Johnson bar to go forward, pull the throttle grip to go forward, and give a few quick jerks to remind unwary observers that Sadie is on her way.

“It’s a very unique experience,” says Dilbeck. “Most people don’t experience steam, let alone a train ride these days.”

Sadie wintered at the ORM store, so before she started touring the country, her owners and the museum let regular people like me and Tom Bishop take charge.

“My wife gave me this gift,” Bishop tells us. “This is my tenth year of retirement.”

The photo goes with the story
Sadie storms forward. Photo by KFOR.

While she’s here, Sadie is the only working steam engine in the state and, certainly, the only one that gets obsessives like us closer to the throttle.

At railroad shows across the United States, she gathers crowds just for a look.

A lucky few can climb to experience the story for themselves.

The Oklahoma Railway Museum still offers the public the opportunity to pilot Lehigh Coal Company No. 126.

For reservations, go to the ORM website here.

Jose P. Rogers