Free Download: “Manifold Menus”, A Cookbook on How to Cook on a Locomotive Engine

Mule Polly and a BNSF locomotive
Outside Seneca, NE

How would you like a free book on how to cook on a locomotive manifold? This week mule Polly and I visited with Gene Hansen of Seneca, Nebraska. Gene is a conductor on the BNSF (Burlington Northern Santa Fe) rail line.  He has written a cookbook called “Manifold Menus” which I thought you’d enjoy hearing about. It’s about how to cook on a locomotive engine. It’s a great read, even if you don’t know your locomotive turbocharger from the oil tank.

Gene Hansen (Seneca, Nebraska)
Caution: Author is not responsible for injury from the use of this cookbook.” I love a cook book with a warning.

Meeting Gene

I met Gene while I was traveling through Seneca on the “Lost Sea Expedition”, my current voyage where I’m exploring the sea bed of the ancient Western Interior Seaway that, 65 million years ago, ran from Canada to Mexico down the middle of the Great Plains.  I visited Gene at his mother Sandy’s home in Seneca, Nebraska. Over a loaf of banana nut bread, Gene showed me a copy of his book “Manifold Menus”.

The Seneca post office

Downtown Seneca. Seneca boomed a hundred years ago, but there’s not much left to town.

Cooking on a Locomotive

Gene has worked as a train conductor for years. The shifts are long and there’s no place to pull over for lunch or supper. “Once I get on that train,” he says, “I can’t just pull over, run into a sandwich and go back to work. That’s why I bring my lunch with me.”

At first, he just packed his meals. “After a while,” he says, “I got a little tired of just eating sandwiches. So I thought, ‘I wonder if I could cook on the engine’?”

The engine on a locomotive weighs thousands of pounds and throws of lots of heat. “I figured since I was working those long shifts, I could just cook on the engine as I went.”

He started off by reheating leftovers like lasagna and steak and worked up to full-blown meals. “My favorite is cornish game hen,” he says.

Gene shows me a photo of a large orange locomotive. “That’s my favorite locomotive to cook on,” he says. “It’s a GE, or General Electric, often referred to as a “toaster.”

A GE “toaster” (Gene Hansen photo)

One of the challenges of cooking on a locomotive as opposed to an oven is that there are no ways to regulate the temperate. “I rely on the terrain,” Gene says. “If I’m pulling a load uphill with the train, the food cooks faster than if I’m going downhill, the other way.”

How to Cook Lo Mein Noodles on a Locomotive

Here’s Gene’s recipe for cooking noodles on a locomotive running from Anselmo to Linscott, Nebraska. The “Unit” Gene refers to in the recipe is the type of locomotive he’s operating.

Ingredients: Lo Mein noodles

  • Heat 12 oz of water on Unit (1 and 1⁄2 drinking water bottles) until hot (1 – 2 hours)
  • In a location were you will be putting the motor under heavy load (Anselmo – Linscott) or (Seneca – Mullen) Add your noodles to the preheated water, put back on the motor to cook and tenderize the noodles
  • Remove in about 10-20 mins (top of the grade). Stir and let set for 1-2 mins. Do NOT leave on the motor more then 20 mins or it will turn to mush!!! Enjoy!
Your Lo Mein is ready!
The land between Anselmo and Seneca, Nebraska.

Listen to Gene Talk About Cooking on a Locomotive

I made a recording of my chat with Gene. To listen to our discussion, complete with trains rolling by, click on the audio player below.

Download a Free Copy of “Manifold Menus”

Hit the blue “Download” button to download your free copy of “Manifold Menus”.

Free Download of my New Photo Book “19 Million Mule Steps”

A while back I spent seven months riding my mules 2,300 miles from western North Carolina to Idaho. I’ve just published a photo book about the journey and I’d like to give you a FREE copy. It’s called 19 Million Mule Steps and contains 134 pages of photos, sketches and musings about the nomadic life with two mules. Read on to see how you can download a free copy.

Click on the “PREVIEW” button for a look into 19 Million Mule Steps. You can buy a copy on Amazon, or keep reading to find out how you can get a FREE copy.

Here are some of the illustrations from 19 Million Mule Steps you’ll enjoy.

Into the American West: a stock tank just when the mules and I needed it most (outside Lost Springs, Wyoming)

A good long drink

Download a Free Copy of 19 Million Mule Steps


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
1 year ago

Heyyy. Is there anywhere you can buy these and have them mailed?


[…] the past, I’ve cooked my meals on gasoline stoves, either an ancient Optimus Ranger 8R or an MSR Whisperlite. They’re both great stoves. I prefer the Whisperlite because it’s […]


[…] This wasn’t my first visit by mule to Seneca. 11 years ago, for the “Lost Sea Expedition” Public TV series, I dropped by. While there, I met Senecan Gene Hansen. He worked for the BNSF (Burlington, Northern Santa Fe) railroad and came up with an industry-specific way of cooking – on a locomotive engine. Hear that interview – and download the cook book – right here. […]

5 years ago

I did a little searching, and soon came up with Eugene Hansen’s TWO books, “Manifold Menus: Rail Road Cookbook” (link in article) and Part Two of this book: Link here.



Current Ramble
Other Cool Reads