The 1880 Train is hosting the fourth annual Prairie to Peaks Iron Horse Rail Summer Camp in partnership with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) June 6-10 in Hill City, SD. Registration forms and detailed information are available online. The camp is free, and campers are selected on a first-come, first-serve basis.
The camp’s main purpose is to teach young people, ages 11-15 years, rail safety around highway/rail grade crossings, railroad rights-of-ways, rail equipment and rail operations. In addition, it educates them about the many different crafts that are necessary to operate a railroad and exposes them to the opportunities available in the rail industry.
The camp is free other than transportation to and from Hill City, thanks to many sponsors. Lodging, meals, transportation to Mount Rushmore, admission to the South Dakota State Railroad Museum, bike rentals for exploring the George S Mickelson Trail and a T-shirt are included with the camp.
Campers will arrive on Monday, June 6 and depart on Friday, June 10, with three days of action-packed, educational fun sandwiched in between.
- They will learn about the many different crafts needed to run the nation’s railroads.
- They will receive an Operation Lifesaver Presentation and learn about highway/railroad grade crossing safety and about the dangers of trespassing on railroad rights-of-ways.
- They will learn about highway/rail grade crossing signal systems.
- After learning about Station Operations, they’ll participate in turning an arriving passenger train to see what it takes to make it ready to head the other way.
- They will learn about a train’s air braking system and learn how to conduct a pre-departure inspection of a train and the required air brake test.
- They will learn about railroad freight car safety standards and about safety appliances and how to inspect for and spot defected appliances.
- They will learn about roadway worker protection rules and track safety standards.
- They will learn about railroad operating rules.
- They will learn the fundamentals of a wayside signal system.
- They’ll conduct an annual inspection of a working, in-service locomotive.
- They’ll see a cold steam engine get its fire and watch it come up to operating pressure so they can take it for a spin.
There will be fun, too. Campers will enjoy:
- An evening BBQ right in the middle of a railroad yard and a ride on a steam train.
- Bike riding on an old railroad bed which has been converted into one of the top ten trails in the world.
- A Thursday-night trip to Mount Rushmore to view the Evening Lighting Ceremony.
“Registrations have grown each year,” says camp organizer Ken Naylor, who is also a railroad safety specialist/chief inspector with the FRA of the U.S. Department of Transportation. “The 1880 Train is the perfect place in the Black Hills to provide this opportunity for our future railroad fans. We thank all the sponsors who have made this camp possible for the last four years!”