The Norfolk & Western Class J 611 steam passenger locomotive roared back to life in 2015 with public excursions in Virginia and North Carolina, and the train will be back in service again in 2016.
According to a release from the Virginia Museum of Transportation, the 611 will be used in 2016 for excursions on various dates from April through June, including multiple trips originating or coming to Roanoke in Virginia's Blue Ridge.
The following is the 2016 excursion schedule, with the Roanoke related excursions highlighted in bold:
- April 9, 2016 - The Virginian, Spencer, N.C., to Lynchburg, Va.
- April 10, 2016 - The Blue Ridge Special, Spencer, N.C., to Asheville, N.C.
- April 23, 2016 - The Roanoker, Greensboro, N.C. to Roanoke, Va.
- April 24, 2016 - The Roanoker, Greensboro, N.C. to Roanoke, Va.
- May 7, 2016 - The Powhatan Arrow, Roanoke, Va., to Lynchburg, Va.
- May 7, 2016 - The Pelican, Roanoke, Va., to Walton (Radford), Va.
- May 8, 2016 - The Powhatan Arrow, Roanoke, Va., to Lynchburg, Va.
- May 8, 2016 - The Pelican, Roanoke, Va., to Walton (Radford), Va.
- June 4, 2016 - The American, Manassas, Va., to Front Royal, Va., (runs once)
- June 5, 2016 - The American, Manassas, Va., to Front Royal, Va., (runs twice)
“A ride behind the 611 is a bucket list dream come true for everyone who remembers the golden age of steam, or who has been lucky enough to learn her story,” said Beverly T. Fitzpatrick, Jr., VMT executive director. “611 is the star of the Museum’s collection and a traveling ambassador for the remarkable rail heritage of Norfolk Southern.”
There will also be many events where the 611 will make special appearances, allowing fans and rail enthusiasts to get an up-close look at this incredible work of machinery and the crew who continue to operate and maintain the Queen of Steam.
The following events are open to the public, and the Roanoke related events are highlighted in bold:
- Over the weekend of May 14, 2016 – visitors to the Virginia Museum of Transportation will get to view 611 fired up, and meet the crew.
- June 4, 2016 – After the morning excursion, 611 will make a guest appearance at the Manassas, Va., Heritage Railway Festival.
- June, 2016 – 611 will be on display at the VMT.
- July, 2016 – 611 will be featured at the North Carolina Transportation Museum for special events.
- Early August, 2016 – 611 will return to the VMT.
- Early September, 2016 – 611 again will return to the NCTM for special events and maintenance.
- Sept. 24-25, 2016 – 611 will travel to Danville, Va., to be featured during Danville Rail Heritage Days.
- 611 will return to Roanoke after the NCTM events conclude in the fall.
The Class J steam passenger locomotives, which were designed and built at the Norfolk & Western shops in Downtown Roanoke, were regarded as some of the finest locomotives in the world. The 611 locomotive is owned by the Virginia Museum of Transportation and is the only Class J locomotive still in existence.
The project to restore and operate the 611 for passenger excursion service has been a collaboration between the Virginia Museum of Transportation, Norfolk Southern Corporation, and North Carolina Transportation Museum. Learn more about the 611 at FireUp611.org