Thinking about steam trains conjures up images of locomotives barrelling through the countryside with plumes of white smoke billowing from its funnel.
For generations this has been a regular sight for passengers and trainspotters alike but, as you can well imagine, steam trains are not the most eco-friendly vehicles in the world. Tonnes of coal is carried on the back and then burned to ensure these power engines keep happily chugging away.
As the world becomes increasingly conscious of the effects of global warming, transport has become an area where we can 'go green'. Over the years, the introduction of the hybrid car, electric train and even the proposed solar-powered plane has shown that people are getting serious about reducing their carbon footprint.
In Arizona, a steam engine company is following suit. In the city of Williams, is the start of the Grand Canyon Railway which offers steam locomotive journeys to the south rim of this wonder of the world. These magnificent engines are the quintessential US train, but have one very unique difference – they are run on vegetable oil.
Since 2008, the railway has replaced its coal and wood-fired burners with those that run entirely on waste vegetable oil. This has allowed more steam engine excursions to take place without harming the beautiful landscape around the Grand Canyon.
This weekend (March 21st) sees a very special event with passengers being able to experience the canyon aboard the No. 4960 locomotive. Starting from Williams, the service heads north to the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park where people can enjoy the stunning scenery this part of the world has to offer.
The two-and-a-half journey to the canyon takes in all the beautiful sights this corner of Arizona has. Travelling at an elevation of 5,000 feet it can be one of the most memorable trips a train-lover could go on.