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Norfolk & Western #611

The Spirit of Roanoke | The Queen of Mainline Steam

Simple lines, a bullet nose, and a Tuscan red stripe made the Js stand out as one of the most beautiful streamlined steam locomotives ever designed. The Js were the pride of the N&W's crack fleet of home-built steam locomotives. They powered the famous named trains like the Powhatan Arrow, Cavalier, and Pocahontas. The Js along with the Class 'A' and 'Y' freight engines embodied the ingenuity of N&W engineers and represented the pinnacle of steam technology. At a time when other railroads were scrapping their steam locomotives, the N&W was building more. No. 611 rolled out of the Roanoke East End Shops on May 29, 1950 at a cost of $251,344. She shared duties with the other Js pulling the company's premiere passenger trains for the people along the N&W's right-of-way.

Fire Up 611 committee

Norfolk & Western #611 was one of fourteen Class 'J' passenger locomotives built by the Norfolk & Western Railway between 1941 and 1950 and the only one in existence today. Constructed in Roanoke in 1950 and rebuilt after a wreck in 1956, #611 served in high-speed revenue passenger service until a farewell to steam excursion in 1959. The locomotive was then donated to the Virginia Museum of Transportation in Roanoke in 1960, where it sat dormant for two decades. 1n 1982, #611 was rebuilt by the Southern Railway's Norris Yard steam shop in Birmingham, Al. A year later she began a long first career in excursion service across the Norfolk Southern mainline system, lasting until their steam program was dropped in 1994. Stored again in Roanoke, in 2013 the Fire Up 611 committee announced plans to rebuild the locomotive again for a second excursion career in the NS 21st Century Steam program. #611 remains based in Roanoke, Virginia.

Class J technical drawings / web

Roanoke, Va / May 2016 / RWH

See also our complete Norfolk & Western mainline collection
See also our Virginia Museum of Transportation page

Links / Sources

This page was updated on 2016-05-16