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Home / News & Reviews / News Wire / Museum considers sending N&W No. 611 farther afield NEWSWIRE

Museum considers sending N&W No. 611 farther afield NEWSWIRE

By R G Edmonson | May 26, 2017

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611Phillips
611Phillips
N&W No. 611 rides across a bridge near Goodview, Va., Jan. 6 as it makes its way from Roanoke Va., to Spencer, N.C., for service.
Samuel Phillips
ROANOKE, Va. — The Virginia Transportation Museum is considering letting its centerpiece attraction, Norfolk & Western 4-8-4 No. 611 roam farther from home.

According to Roanoke TV station WSLS Channel 10, Director Beverly Fitzpatrick said the museum is talking with Amtrak about “broadening the base” of the locomotive’s operations.

Fitzpatrick said that after running solely to destinations on Norfolk Southern rails in Virginia and North Carolina for the past two years, “we think the market right now has played out.

“There are just a not a lot of people that are going to ride that haven’t already ridden,” Fitzpatrick said. “So we are now talking to Amtrak about broadening that base to see if we can go a lot of other places. It’s exciting because nobody is saying no. Everybody wants to talk about the opportunities.”

After restoration in 1982, and until 1994, 611 was seen in virtually every corner of the Norfolk Southern system.

According to Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge, the region’s official destination marketing organization, 611’s economic impact has been $4 million per year for the past two years. Reporters also said that 611 was this week was designated the Official Steam Locomotive of Virginia.

N&W is scheduled for excursions over the three-day Memorial Day holiday between Roanoke and Lynchburg, Va., and Roanoke and Radford, Va., starting Saturday.

25 thoughts on “Museum considers sending N&W No. 611 farther afield NEWSWIRE

  1. This is great news! I rode her as well as the articulated engine out of Chicago years ago. I have my fingers crossed.

  2. Just find a safe open car where you can hear the locomotive and your market will return, but the Horseshoe Curve would be nice in an every three years schedule.

  3. The railman community ought and should support 611’s operations with ticket purchases. That’s the single best way to ensure future generations are given proper instruction about the glories of steam railroading.

  4. I agree with W. Cook about the open car. Also, if they would go back to a photo runby for the paying passengers, that would draw more riders. Right now, you have to be a chaser instead of a rider to get a good shot of the trainset. Also, they could consider a once-a-year overnight trip. I rode a Lexington, KY to Chattanooga two-day trip in 1982. I still look back on that trip through the “rathold division” as the highlight of my rail excursion era.

  5. Would love to see her running at full throttle on the old Nickel Plate or New York Central lines in the Chicago region!

  6. It would be lovely if Number 611 comes to Houston. However, to be practical, she could go to Memphis, retracing the route of “The Tennessean” from Roanoke. This should wet the appetite for restoration of passenger train service through the Tennessee Valley.

    Perhaps Sheffield, Alabama and Corinth, Missisippi could serve as meal stops with fried chicken, French fries and roll cooked in lard as served on Southern’s Chattanooga – Memphis Numbers 35 and 36, respectively.

  7. As a retired N&W/NS employee, I say yes, send our Crown Jewel around the country so others can see what N&W/NS employees are rightfully proud of!!

  8. Let’s just suppose we get really crazy: 611 pulling a “NEW” American Freedom Train all over the nation. After all, the Republicans are holding the reins right now. True, she might have to be repainted into some “patriotic” paint scheme and maybe replace the coal bin in the tender with an oil bunker and put an oil burner in the firebox (even on a temporary basis because oil is more readily available in the Midwest and Western U.S.), but with the proper planning and support, something like this could be done. No, I don’t suppose U.P. would be too crazy about this idea, especially since they’re getting a “Big Boy” ready to go, but just imagine 611 coupling up with some of the most famous steam locomotives in our nation to show off our pride in our country and eventually returning home to Roanoke as a rolling national monument!

  9. I would love to see the 611 run over more than just the typical rails in Virginia. If they ran her on the southern line through the Natural Tunnel, or to Kentucky or West Virginia, that would be great!

  10. She is welcome In Cincinnati anytime……….
    Cincy to Ft. Wayne, or Columbus would be awesome.

  11. CSX has said “no” to steam locomotion, period. UP will not allow any steam locomotives other than its own. That leaves NS, BNSF, and (maybe) KCS and CN as hosts for the 611. (Now that Darth Hunter is gone from CP, perhaps they might be willing to host a steam excursion …) Seriously, though, this year’s 611 schedule was way too short, way too limited. I rather doubt that the Virginian Museum of Transportation would let their pride and joy go too far afield, but expanding her presence in the eastern half of the country is a reasonable expectation.

  12. why not do another trip from salsbury to Asheville over “the loops”. That first trip sold out in a few hours after it was released to the vip’s and I couldn’t even get a ticket, and there was no second trip. Also would like to see a trip to bluefield like the old days. That would sell out quick also. Those two trips were what I have been waiting for, and have not been interested in the ones offered so far. Those trips were the reason I contributed to the restoratiuon of 611. Guess I’m S O L now.

  13. It would be great to see her running out of Cincinnati each year. We live in Mt. Orab along the old Peavine and we miss her. I realize that the track has been leased out and also can no longer make a trip into Portsmouth Ohio on that route.

  14. A perfect choice would be Steamtown runs for one season. With the roundhouse for storage, turntable for turning, and as a great added attraction for visitors at the park. From Steamtown trips could be planned to Binghamton on the former Lackawanna with a highlight running over the famous Tunkhannock Viaduct, a long hill climb out of Scranton, a long tunnel, and a large wye to turn in Binghamton for the return trip. As option, from Binghamton, you can run to Corning, NY on the former Erie and add as a attraction if so with a visit to Corning Glass. A large wye is in Corning for turning as well. All trips would be on Norfolk Southern excellent welded, well maintained, and high speed trackage. For these trips you could run either 2 (1-day) round trips from Steamtown to Binghamton, 2 (1-day) round trips Binghamton to Corning, or a 1-day round trip Steamtown to Corning. As bonus trips for excursion, you can run a trip out of Steamtown to the Delaware Water Gap and return as a 1-day round trip. A tricky wye at Portland, NJ, but the NKP 765 turned there a few years ago which would make me believe the J611 could also do. This trackage would be on the former Lackawanna now owned and maintained by the Delaware Lackawanna. All trips would offer excellent scenery running on the rails in mountains, along and over rivers, and passage through many towns and cities.

  15. I would vote for 611 to come to PA and run excursions on NS lines especially freight only lines like the ex-Reading and ex-Lehigh Valley lines between Harrisburg and Newark, NJ or the lines from Harrisburg to Scranton, or Scranton to Binghamton which are NS now. Could 611 be ferry moved from Roanoke to PA via Hagerstown, MD? Why did NS sell off five of the red excursion coaches that they restored for the excursions though? I heard because all future steam excursions on NS will be operated with Amtrak and those coaches were not Amtrak certified. NS no longer had a use for them, so they chose to auction them off. One went to Spencer, NC, two went to a railroad in NY state, and two went to Alaska I believe. NS kept the generator coach Tennessee #42. Maybe VMT will rent Amfleets for future 611 excursions as well as the dome and higher class cars.

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