Class J 611 Steam Locomotive™ to be included in Norfolk Southern Corporation’s 21st Century Steam Excursion program in June and July
For nearly 20 years she’s sat silent, but on Saturday, May 30, the Norfolk & Western Class J 611™ Steam Passenger Locomotive, the most powerful steam passenger locomotive ever built, will triumphantly return to her hometown of Roanoke, Virginia under her own steam power.
It’s a dream come true for thousands around the world.
“Once again her beauty, power, mechanical ingenuity and deep baritone whistle will capture the imagination of young and old alike,” said Beverly T. Fitzpatrick, Jr., executive director of the Virginia Museum of Transportation and home to the iconic Class J 611.
To welcome the historic locomotive home, the Virginia Museum of Transportation is planning a celebration like no other. The Class J 611 will arrive in Roanoke under her own power between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. (EDT), and will stop near the old N&W Passenger Station, now home to the Roanoke Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau and O. Winston Link Museum. No passenger tickets will be sold for the Class J 611 Homecoming Train. The Homecoming Celebration will be open to the public and free of charge. The Museum will announce additional Homecoming Celebration weekend details at a later date.
Once she thunders home, the Class J 611 won’t sit idle for long. The graceful, streamlined giant of a locomotive will participate in Norfolk Southern 21st Century Steam excursion program throughout June and July.
“She will run free helping us remember and celebrate America’s proud industrial heritage,” Fitzpatrick said. “The 611 has the ability to transport passengers back in time to the golden age of passenger rail travel.”
The Museum anticipates excursion tickets will go on sale to the general public on May 6. Donors to the Fire Up 611! Campaign who have made the restoration possible will be the first to receive additional information by mail. For more information on excursions and the homecoming celebration, visit fireup611.org.
About the Norfolk & Western Class J 611:
The Norfolk & Western Class J 611™ is the finest American locomotive ever made. She is a marriage of beauty and power. Simple lines, a bullet nose, a midnight black façade, a Tuscan stripe and a baritone whistle makes her the most distinguished steam locomotive left in the world. She’s an engineering powerhouse of steam, technology and near mechanical perfection. The Class J Locomotives were built using American ingenuity, design and engineering. Even today, she is the pinnacle of steam locomotive technology known to man.
The Norfolk & Western Class J Locomotives were designed, constructed and maintained in Roanoke, Virginia. These streamlined locomotives have captivated the hearts of rail fans worldwide since they first rolled out of the N&W Roanoke shops, beginning in 1941.
The Class J 611 Steam Locomotive was built in 1950. The 611 Locomotive pulled the Powhatan Arrow, the famed passenger train, from Norfolk to Cincinnati. The Class J 611 retired from passenger rail service in 1959. In 1962, she was moved to the Virginia Museum of Transportation in Roanoke, Virginia.
In 1981, Norfolk Southern pulled her out of retirement and restored her to her original glory. Once again, she blew her whistle to sleepy towns and thundered across the landscape. She was retired from excursions in 1994 and moved back into the Virginia Museum of Transportation. Since her retirement, rail fans have clamored, hoped and dreamed that she would return to the rails, to blow her whistle and steam over the Blue Ridge and Appalachian mountains once again. Visit fireup611.org for more information.
About the Virginia Museum of Transportation, Inc.:
Experience the only remaining examples of the Norfolk & Western’s legendary success at the Virginia Museum of Transportation: the Class A 1218 and the Class J 611. In our Rail Yard, explore historic steam and diesel engines, cabooses and other rail equipment as modern trains rumble past. Inside the Museum, enjoy model trains, hands-on exhibits, and stroll among our antique automobiles, and truck and bus exhibits. The Virginia Museum of Transportation will spark your imagination and kindle your curiosity. Visit vmt.org for more information.