All aboard! Reedley farm kicks off steam train apprenticeship program
Read the transcript for this report below.
ELIZABETH ARAKELIAN, HOST: Steam-powered trains may seem a relic of the past, but a Fresno County farm has made them its specialty. And as KVPR’s Kerry Klein reports, a rare steam train program is “calling aboard” all interested apprentices.
KERRY KLEIN: The ride-on train at Hillcrest Tree Farm in Reedley is fun and popular with kids. It’s also one of the few steam trains in existence, now that diesel engines are standard. But those few steam engines still need people to run them – which is why Hillcrest is training apprentices to become conductors and engineers. Hillcrest engineer Conner Habib says there’s a lot more to the job than wearing an old-timey hat and blowing a whistle.
CONNER HABIB: There’s track, there’s road bed, there’s infrastructure, there’s right of way maintenance, those sorts of things, so all of those things are taught during the training program.
KLEIN: Today, steam engines are mostly novelties at amusement parks and tourist destinations. Habib says Hillcrest has made a name for itself by making or repairing parts of many of those trains.
HABIB: In the industry there seems to be a good respect for Hillcrest and what they do.
KLEIN: The apprenticeship program runs one weeknight per week, and one weekend every month. Habib says enrollment is open for teenagers and older. For KVPR News, I'm Kerry Klein