Rail history was recreated at the weekend as hundreds of Wagga visitors and residents took their turn riding on a "beloved" steam train.
The Locomotive 3801 was built in 1943 and retired in 1962 but was kept for heritage service until 2007, when the need for major boiler repairs saw it no longer able to run.
For 12 years, volunteers lovingly restored the train, and it is currently on its first regional tour since being finished.
Wagga local Jayden Allen was snapping pictures of the famous steam train after being encouraged to come down by his uncle, who works for the station's museum.
Mr Allen said he wanted to help capture the incredible day for his uncle, but he had learned so much about the locomotive's history.
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"It's so cool to have this bit of history in our town," he said. "Especially for the younger kids as well to see this, and they all seem so blown away. The vibe down here is really friendly and really warm. Everyone seems so excited to be here."
Ian Pendlebury came down from Sydney to see the 3801 in all its glory.
"This is the most modern steam engine in all of Australia, and I am a bit of a train buff, so I thought I would come to take a look," he said.
"I work in the industry in business development for a rail company, so I have always had a bit of a love for rail and steam engines are the most romantic of the genre."
Mr Pendlebury said he was fascinated by how the train slowly accelerates, and passengers could hear the steam engine working.
"The rhythm of the steam engine is something you can't ignore. You almost seem to be a part of the whole ride," he said.
"In an electric train or a diesel train, you don't feel quite as connected to it."
Hundreds of people were camped out along the railway line, Mr Pendlebury said, to watch the 3801 go past.
"It was impressive that everyone knew the 3801 was here," he said. "It seems like the community really likes it."
Jacqui Collins was another visitor who came up from Melbourne and was stunned to find that hotels and motels were booked out for the weekend.
"I came up because it is history on wheels," she said. "As soon I saw it, bang, I booked a ticket. Anything with an engine I am interested in. It's great to see it generating so much interest and bringing revenue to Wagga."
Andy McNeill, the acting CEO for Transport Heritage NSW, said the Locomotive 3801 is the equivalent of Britain's the Flying Scotsman.
"She is much-loved, very iconic and truly a legend of steam," she added.
Ms McNeill said the train has been doing shuttles throughout the Riverina, and the tickets for Wagga sold out quickly.
She added the pandemic meant they could not run at total capacity but did not doubt if they could, the tickets still would have sold out.
"These transport heritage items tell our social and economic history," Ms McNeill said. "The number of people who can say my father or uncle or grandfather worked on the 3801 Locomotive - they are such a part of the fabric of our community."
Ms McNeill said it was special to bring the train out for both the older and new generations and generate tourism in the regions.
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