RONKS, Pa. (WHTM) — On Saturday, Strasburg Rail Road’s steam locomotive was manned — or should we say, “womanned” — by an all-female engine crew for the first time ever in honor of International Women’s Day.
Andrea Biesecker served as the engineer for the train, while Shelley Hall was the fireman (“or ‘fire girl’ as we like to call it,” says Hall). While this is the first time the two-person engine crew has been comprised of two women, both Biesecker and Hall say it’s just another day on the job… but it is pretty neat.
“The reason why I did this was to let girls see that just because normally a man does this job, a woman can do it, too,” says Hall.
Hall is known as “the Swiss Army knife of the railroad” because she takes on so many different tasks. She says she enjoys the variety of the position. Biesecker started at Strasburg Rail Road as a machinist and worked her way up to engineer, becoming the first female engineer at the railroad.
Hall and Biesecker also hold many other firsts at Strasburg Rail Road, with first female welder (Hall) and first female machinist (Biesecker) among them.
Biesecker says she could count the number of other women in her position on one hand. “I mean this isn’t exactly the typical job that your average woman is striving to do. It’s dirty. It’s hot in the summer. It’s cold in the winter,” she says, “but at the same time, it is amazing.”
Hall encourages other women interested in the field not to be turned away “just because it isn’t girly or it isn’t what girls normally do.”
“People might say you can’t. People might say it’s strange. People might say that women aren’t cut out for that type of work. And they just don’t know what they’re talking about,” advises Biesecker, “so just prove them all wrong.”
“If you’re good at what you do, your gender should not matter,” says Hall.