I've been blessed by the railroad Gods, I guess... I count 6 trips. A brief visit with an engineer in a Metroliner cab between Trenton and North Philadelphia in 1978 (...going to the re-dedication of GG-1 4932 in Washington Union Station), two trips in E-8 diesels between South Amboy and Manasquan in the middle 70's and two longer cab visits in Metroliner cabs on a Philadelphia-Washington DC-Philadelphia trip one Sunday somewhere around '69-'70.
But the one trip that I will never forget for the rest of my life was in a Pennsylvania GG-1 electric from South Amboy to NYP, probably around 1964. Mom was taking me to the circus in New York, and we took the train from Manasquan. I insisted on wearing my engineer's cap with the PRR keystone embroidered on the front, and it got the attention of the conductor. We talked on the way to NY, and he asked me if I wanted to watch the engine change in South Amboy. Of course! I watched them disconnect and uncouple the E-8 diesel and back in the GG-1. When the conductor found out who the engineer was, he asked me if I wanted a ride in the engine... He went back in the coach and asked my mom, who of course said yes. The engine was coupled, and I was up the ladder and in the cab...
The engineer explained signals, throttle and brakes to me. We stopped in Rahway and he asked me if I wanted to run it... I stood in front of him (I was too short to sit in the seat AND keep my foot on the dead-man pedal) and did exactly what he told me to do. I released the brakes, although he (in retrospect, wisely...) kept his right hand on the brake lever. When the brakes released, he instructed me to depress the button on the end of the throttle lever and move it one notch. I did. Then another, and another, and another.... Next thing you know, we are doing 80mph up the main line of the PRR with my hand on the throttle.
...Just before Elmora (...didn't know the interlocking names then...) he had me notch back the throttle and he did the braking into Elizabeth. I was supposed to get off and "go back to coach" at Elizabeth, but the front of the engine just overshot the end of the platform by about 10 feet, so I couldn't get off. Coming into Newark, the engineer spotted some "railroad brass" on the platform, and told me to duck down so I couldn't be seen. I ducked... So I stayed into NYP and "snuck" out of the cab there.
Needless to say, I don't remember a damn thing about the rest of the day, or the circus, or anything else we did that day!
...and many years later, when I started to commute to Newark to attend college at NCE (Newark College of Engineering, now "NJIT"), I met the very same conductor again. He let me read the rule books and the employee time tables, and we had long discussions about train operations.
But I will never forget that particular trip as long as I live!