Hand on the Throttle

2024 Reservations available by phone only (860-767-0103 x 203)

A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn about and actually operate a full size steam locomotive!

Hand on the Throttle (HOTT) registrants receive home study materials covering railroad and steam locomotive safety as well as basic steam locomotive theory and operation. At the beginning of each on-site class session (4:00 pm), students are instructed on steam locomotive operation and given a safety test. Following the test, each student operates a steam locomotive under the direct and constant supervision of our engine crew for approximately 1 hour along the Valley Railroad. Only 1 registrant will be allowed on the locomotive for each trip.

Advance Registration

Reserve your spot early…participation in the HOTT is limited to 1-4 student’s per class.

Scheduling is first come/first served, so please consider first, second, and third choices for dates

Registrants must be at least 18 years old, in good health, have a valid drivers license, and physically able to operate a steam locomotive. Proper clothing, shoes and eye protection must be worn while participating in the program. A general release signature is required at time of registration.

Hand on the Throttle is designed to give each registrant the opportunity to learn about steam locomotives and actually operate one. The program does not qualify someone for unsupervised operation or operations with a train.


Basic Package- One hour class time with one hour Engine Operation: $699.00

Best Value Package- One hour class time, two hours of Engine Operation, a hooded sweatshirt, a copy of “Along the Valley Line”, and a gift card for 4 Summer Train & Boat tickets. $1099.99

Please contact Essex Steam Train & Riverboat (860) 767-0103 for details and registration.


2024 Schedules

Spring Schedule

Friday May 17  & Thursday May 23: Class Session at 12:40 pm

Summer Schedule

Monday, Thursday, Fridays June 20 – August 30: Class Session at 3:45pm

Fall Schedule

Thursdays September 12, 19 & 26: Class Session at 2:15 pm