611 Returns Soon To Roanoke From North Carolina!

A great day for a runN&W Class J 611™ completes a 110-mile roundtrip

from Spencer, NC to Greensboro, NC

Courtesy of Norfolk Southern



The Fire Up 611 mechanical crew completed a test run of the iconic locomotive round trip from the North Carolina Transportation Museum in Spencer, North Carolina to Greensboro, North Carolina. The train consisted of No. 611, the auxiliary water car, tool car No. 1407, and eight Norfolk Southern passenger cars. This marks the first time No. 611 has operated under steam on the mainline in more than twenty years.cropped-images5AK59GE7.jpg


You’ve waited 20 years. Don’t miss the train.Excursion Spotlight: The Powhatan Arrow

Roanoke to Lynchburg

July 3, July 4 and July 5


Riding from Roanoke to Lynchburg on the old Norfolk and Western takes you through some of Virginia’s most beautiful

views.  Leaving Roanoke, on the left you will pass the famous East End Shops, where 611, her sisters, and the 1200s and 2100s were designed, built, and maintained.  Further east in the shops complex in the former N&W Car Shops is the current site of Freight Car America’s Roanoke Plant.

You will continue eastward through Vinton and down a long straightaway to Boaz siding in Bonsack, made famous in photographs by O. Winston Link.

Moving further up the Blue Ridge grade, our train will pass the original plant of the Webster Brick Company, and a bit farther up on the left, the site of the Blue Ridge station and the quarry operations of Boxley Materials, the company that provided all the ballast to the N&W.

On the other side of the Blue Ridge Gap, prepare to take in spectacular views of the Peaks of Otter, on of the most scenic areas on the Blue Ridge Parkway.  Leaving the Gap, we will pass through Bedford, home to the national D Day Memorial honoring those who served on the beaches of France on June 6, 1944.  After passing Bedford, the train passes through the village of Forest, home to Thomas Jefferson’s summer home Poplar Forest. This is also where the newer “low-grade” line broke away from the old N&W main line to avoid congestion in downtown Lynchburg and a climb out of the James River valley. Pulling into Lynchburg, the train will turn on the wye at Norfolk Southern’s Montview Yard for the return trip to Roanoke.

It will be a trip you’ll remember forever.

Other excursions include: 

The American– Manassas, Virginia to Front Royal, Virginia. June 6 & 7

·     Take a 102-mile roundtrip through northern Virginia over former Southern Railway tracks

·     Turn on the wye alongside the river at Riverton Junction at Front Royal

·     Enjoy the 21st annual Manassas Heritage Railway Festival and explore the walkable, historic downtown

The Cavalier-

Lynchburg, Virginia to Petersburg, Virginia. June 13 & 14

·         Ride from the mountains of Lynchburg to the heart of Petersburg and back on this 260-mile roundtrip journey

·         Explore downtown Petersburg

·         Dine, shop, and relax during the two-hour layover

The Pelican– Roanoke, Virginia to Radford, Virginia. June 3, 4, & 5 (afternoon trip)

·         Enjoy the ride from Roanoke to Radford on this 84-mile roundtrip

·         Climb the fame Christiansburg grade- the exact type of mountainous terrain 611 for which 611 was designed

·         Return to downtown Roanoke for an evening of Independence Day weekend festivities


About the 611 Excursion Train 

There’s no bad seat on this train! Climb aboard for an experience that features modern amenities and a level of service reflective of the golden age of passenger rail travel.  Our passenger cars – many from the 1940

s and 1950s – have been thoughtfully rebuilt and restored and each car is unique.  However, every car offers air-condition

ing, comfortable seating, large windows, and ample leg room. Restrooms are also available throughout the train.

Whether you choose to ride in standard or deluxe coach, or to treat yourself to first class, dome, or observation seating – or even a private suite – you’ll be able to walk through the train and get to know your fellow passengers along the way.  It’s not unusual to make a few new friends on board! Car hosts will share information about the route and the history of the train, and see to your needs and comfort.


A commissary car mid-train will offer soft drinks and snacks for sale, as well as tee shirts, videos,and other merchandise.  For those who choose first class, a private suite, or dome or observation seating – which both offer unique and spectacular views – first class car attendants will bring complimentary beverages and snacks to you.


The fastest and easiest way to purchase tickets is online through FIREUP611.org. You may also call the VMT Ticket Line at 540-797-2666 or purchase tickets in person at the Virginia Museum of Transportation in downtown Roanoke.



The NCTM says goodbye to the Class J 611. Roanoke welcomes her home. Two full weekends of activities are planned as the North Carolina Transportation Museum (NCTM) says goodbye to the Class J 611 and the Virginia Museum of Transportation and the City of Roanoke welcomes The Spirit of Roanoke home.

See all that the NCTM has planned on Saturday, May 23! Get your camera ready for the 611 Photo Charter on May 28!

Roanoke is throwing a welcome home celebration fit for a Queen on Saturday, May 30.

On Sunday, May 31, visit the VMT to see the Big Three  – the Class J (611), the Class A (1218) and the Class Y6a (2156)- in the same rail yard in over 60 years!


About the Norfolk & Western Class J 611™  Steam Passenger Locomotive


Norfolk & Western Class J 611™ is considered by many to be 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.


611 was built in May of 1950.  The 611 Locomotive pulled the Powhatan Arrow, the famed passenger train, from Norfolk to Cincinnati.  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 return to the rails, to blow her whistle and steam over the Blue Ridge and Appalachian mountains once again.


In 2015, barring the unforeseen, the dream of 611 returning to steam will become a reality.  Thanks Norfolk Southern, friends of 611 and the Virginia Museum of Transportation, and Rail Fans all across the USA and from around the world for your support!  The “Queen of Steam” RETURNS SOON!