The Steam Engine Is Set to Return to Grand Canyon Railways

Steam-powered excursions to the park will run from March to October

Steam-powered engine on tracks

Courtesy of Grand Canyon Railway

The Grand Canyon Railway is ready to share the fun of traditional steam engines with the American people once more.

The company will run steam-powered excursions to Grand Canyon National Park from March to October. These journeys, called Steam Saturdays, will take place on the first Saturday of each month, as well as on Presidents' Day (Feb. 19), Earth Day (April 23), and on the Grand Canyon Railway Anniversary (Sept. 17). Be prepared to wake up early, though, as only the 9:30 a.m. trains will feature the steam engines.

"An operational steam locomotive can be a rare sight in the 21st century, which is why we keep two fully-restored vintage steam locomotives in service to pull The Train on select dates throughout the year," the company writes on its website.

The two locomotives set to chug along the track, GCR No. 29 and GCR No. 4960, both have a long and illustrious history that the company intends to celebrate with Steam Saturdays.

Steam locomotive No. 29 is the older of the two steam engines, built in 1906 and originally used to haul iron ore trains in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. The Grand Canyon Railway purchased the locomotive in 1989 and operated it on and off until 2016, when it was brought "back to life" as a part of the celebration for the National Park Service's centennial.

Its sister locomotive, No. 4960, was built in 1923 by Baldwin Locomotive Works. It ran throughout the Midwest, hauling iron ore and other freight until the 1960s when it pulled excursion trains, circus, and museum trains. It was put on static display in the early '70s and then was purchased by the Grand Canyon Railway company in 1989.

Close up of engine No. 4960

Courtesy of Grand Canyon Railway

Seven years following its purchase, "No. 4960 underwent one of the most extensive locomotive rebuilding and restoration projects in modern history, converting it from a coal-burner to burn diesel as fuel," the company writes. In 2009, it was modified once more to run on Waste Vegetable Oil. Since then, The Grand Canyon Railway says that engine No. 4960 is "the backbone of our steam fleet" and has become "an icon among operational steam locomotives in the United States."

Tickets for a roundtrip ride start at $67 and increase in price depending on fare class. The trip takes about two hours each way and provides a three-hour stop at the Grand Canyon. For more information or to book your next trip, visit the Grand Canyon Railway website.

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