N&W Class J 611

Celebrating the return of the finest passenger steam locomotive ever
611 In Steam
Trains is celebrating the 611 with exclusive coverage and a special issue.

The return of the 611

In 2015 the railroad enthusiast community welcomes one of the most beautiful and most powerful passenger steam locomotives ever built back to operating condition, Norfolk & Western Class J No. 611. This magnificent steam locomotive has returned to the rails after 21 years of inactivity. Trains would like to celebrate this achievement, and to do so we’ve gathered some of our favorite photos of yesterday and today, found videos that delight us, and written about the inspiration that we find in this streamlined mechanical masterpiece. We hope you’ll enjoy this look at 611 in Steam!

611 history
Craftsmen at Norfolk & Western’s Roanoke Shops built No. 611 in May 1950, finishing the job on May 29. The locomotive was one of 14 Class J 4-8-4s, Nos. 600-613, that were homemade and employed on the railroad’s crack passenger trains between Norfolk and Cincinnati and on other lines, such as the route to Bristol, Va. The Tuscan red, gold, and locomotives were powerful, developing more than 5,100 hp, and they could sprint at speeds up to 110 mph. Sadly, the coming of diesel locomotives in the late 1950s meant the end for N&W steam and the Class J locomotives. The railroad retired No. 611 in 1959 and donated it to a city park in 1963. In 1981, N&W management decided to restore No. 611 and it operated on excursions under the new Norfolk Southern Corp. banner from 1982-1994.

611 restoration
In 2013, the Virginia Museum of Transportation organized the Fire Up 611! Committee to restore No. 611, to build a permanent home for the locomotive at the museum, and to create an endowment for its perpetual maintenance. Thanks to generous donors, many of them Trains readers, and the Norfolk Southern Corp., the committee raised more than $3 million to begin the work. The locomotive was moved to Spencer, N.C., where work took place in the roundhouse at the North Carolina Transportation Museum. Returned to steam on March 31, the locomotive is set to pull excursions in Virginia in June and July. For more information about excursions, see www.FireUp611.org.


Three more spring excursions set for No. 611

SPENCER, N.C. — Former Norfolk & Western J Class 4-8-4 No. 611 will grace three excursions from the North Carolina Transportation Museum in Spencer in early April. An all-day round-trip to Lynchburg, Va., will operate from the museum on April 8, while two shorter round trips will depart on April 9 for Charlotte and Greensboro. All of the excursions will operate over former Southern Railway routes. Tickets go on sale to Engineer- and Conductor-level museum members at 9 a.m. on Jan. 10...

Norfolk & Western 4-8-4 No 611 to return home to Roanoke

ROANOKE, Va. — Norfolk & Western 4-8-4 No. 611 is headed home to Roanoke this month. The J-Class steam engine will leave the North Carolina Transportation Museum in Spencer, N.C., on Monday, Oct. 24 for a predawn journey to Roanoke on Norfolk Southern rails. To celebrate the locomotive’s homecoming, the Virginia Museum of Transportation will open at 7 a.m. Museum officials say the locomotive should arrive between 7:30 and 9:30 a.m. on Monday. It will be operating under its own p...

N&W J-Class 611 heads back to North Carolina

SPENCER, N.C. — Norfolk & Western No. 611 is taking a little vacation to North Carolina. The 4-8-4 J-Class steamer arrived at the North Carolina Transportation Museum in Spencer on Wednesday afternoon. The locomotive traveled under its own power from the Virginia Museum of Transportation in Roanoke, Va., to Spencer on Norfolk Southern rails on Wednesday. Two tool cars and five gondolas accompanied the locomotive. The No. 611 will be visiting the museum for a few weeks and will be th...


N&W 611, past and present
A look at this iconic passenger steam locomotive, from its 1950 birth to its present-day restoration


Trains Presents: N&W No. 611 at Manassas Va.

Watch as Norfolk & Western 4-8-4 No. 611 makes its final scheduled mainline runs on Norfolk Southern for 2016 out of Manassas, Va., on June 4 and 5. Only from Trains!...

Trains Presents: 611 in winter

Follow along with famed Norfolk & Western J Class 4-8-4 No. 611 on its 2016 journey from Virginia to the North Carolina Transportation Museum in Spencer. See the classic streamlined steam locomotive and other trains out along the Norfolk Southern main line. Be sure to check out our special issue, 611 In Steam, and related 611 in Steam DVD, covering the famous steam locomotive from Roanoke....

VIDEO: Norfolk & Western 611 steam test: All systems go

SPENCER, N.C. – Norfolk & Western 4-8-4 No. 611 is in the home stretch of its restoration after a successful test fire Tuesday at the North Carolina Transportation Museum, where its 1,472-day inspection and repairs began last May 29. The locomotive was fired all day and achieved its maximum working boiler pressure of 300 psi. The crew opened the throttle to blow out the ports on the pistons and valves and took the opportunity to celebrate by blowing a Class J Hancock three-chime long-...
MORE ABOUT: steam/preservation , n&w 611


Trains magazine is streaming live video of No. 611, including a test run to Greensboro, N.C., on Thursday, May 21, a send-off event and throttle time on Saturday, May 23, and the locomotive's return to Roanoke, Va., on Saturday, May 30. Learn more »
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