My first job with the Railroad was in 1976 on the Southern Railway. My job was to ride on top of the coal pile in the tender and push the coal down to the fireman. Soon I began the long education in the art of firing a locomotive. This wasn't a tourist thing but on the main line at 60-80 MPH. It requires brains and a strong back as well to be a good fireman and it was required that you learn the theory behind combustion and thermodynamics. I ran these things for years and I miss them. Now I run the most modern diesel and electric locomotives on the American Continent and I would trade them all in an instant for a noisy, hot bouncing steam locomotive cab. Here is a photo taken after my promotion to a fireman. On occasion I got rewarded by a turn at the throttle. I was 20 then.
Very cool! Next week my wife and me are going camping in western maryland. While there we are riding a steam locomotive from Frostburg to Cumberland. They will haul your bike along too. Then we are riding back from Cumberland to Frostburg on bikes on an adjacent former rail bed. It's a 2% down grade so I think I'll be able to handle it.