N&W 611 inaugural run set for May 30; excursions in June and July


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As reported by Trains magazine...

ROANOKE, Va. – Legendary Norfolk & Western Class J No. 611 will shake off 20 years of inactivity to pull its first mainline passenger train May 30 from its restoration site in Spencer, N.C., to its hometown of Roanoke where a gala celebration awaits the reborn 4-8-4.

Later, you will have 11 opportunities to ride or photograph the Tuscan red streamlined beauty in action on Virginia rails in June and July with departures from Manassas, Lynchburg, and Roanoke, officials with the Virginia Museum of Transportation say.

The 220-mile, one-way May 30 trip will see the powerful Class J stride along the former Southern Railway main line and enter home rails at Lynchburg. There, the engine will retrace its regular service route when it pulled N&W’s named passenger trains across the fabled Blue Ridge grade. The locomotive is expected to arrive between 2 and 4 p.m., stopping at the O. Winston Link Museum in the former N&W passenger station in downtown Roanoke. The engine is expected to run with no diesel helpers.

The train will be for invited guests and VIPs and no tickets will be sold. The celebration at the depot will be free and open to the public and additional events will be announced for that weekend, Virginia Museum of Transportation officials say. May 30 is significant because it is 65 years and one day after the engine entered service, and one year after its appearance at the Streamliners at Spencer festival, kicking off the restoration at the North Carolina Transportation Museum in Spencer.

The first opportunity for the public to ride behind No. 611 will come the following weekend with excursions between Manassas and Riverton Junction, a 102-mile roundtrip on former Southern Railway tracks. A morning trip will take place June 6 and both morning and afternoon trips will take place June 7. This takes place during the 21st annual Manassas Heritage Railway Festival.

The following weekend, June 13 and 14, the engine will pull 260-mile round trip excursions between Lynchburg and Petersburg.

Independence Day weekend will see No. 611 running July 3, 4, and 5 from its hometown. Each day it will pull morning trips from Roanoke to Lynchburg, a 98-mile roundtrip, and each afternoon it will pull a 42-mile roundtrip to Walton and back. The afternoon trips send the locomotive across famed Christiansburg grade.

Complete info, coming soon at:

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I'm just waiting for her to do a couple of excursions out of Chattanooga. Of course, if she starts out at the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum's Grand Junction, she'll have to back out of Grand Junction and take the NS mainline around Missionary Ridge, since there's a 100% chance of her not fitting thru Missionary Ridge Tunnel. She'd be better off starting out at the Chattanooga Choo-Choo like they used to do with her and 1218.
I hope to be back in the US by summer and what a great welcome home present to see 611 under steam again. I'll have to teach my wife what it's like to go rail fanning in the US, poor girl :hehe:.

It'd be nice if it came over to the western USA too. Since I am near UP tracks, all the steam I'll probably ever see in this town is 844, 3985, and 4014. I'm not complaining about the UP steam lot, I'm just saying that I wish more steam from the eastern USA came west at least once.
The North Caroline Transportation Museums is hosting a "611 Send Off Celebration" on May 23rd, which offers a chance to go up into #611's cab, and watch the engine operating on and off the museum's turntable.

And ten (count 'em, 10) persons will have the opportunity to get 30 minutes "at the throttle" of No. 611, i.e., the person gets to run the locomotive down the tracks for 30 minutes, following a safety training session. The cost for this "throttle time" is $611.

More details here.

If O. Winston Link was still alive I'm sure he'd be the first in line to "play engineer!" ;)
Norfolk & Western #611 Pauses in Lexington, North Carolina

Norfolk & Western #611 decided to pause in Lexington, North Carolina on her shakedown run. About 2:30 in, you can see her Baker valve gear moving, and at about 8:00 you can see them opening the grates in the firebox to let the ash fall into the ash pan underneath the firebox.

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