SPENCER, N.C. -- Norfolk Southern's 20 heritage locomotives return to their normal lives hauling freight today after wowing more than 4,000 people who came out for this once-in-a-lifetime gathering of these modern diesels in historic predecessor railroad paint schemes.
Despite sweltering high 90s heat, Norfolk Southern's heritage unit event drew visitors from 39 states, 2 Canadian provinces and as far away as Austria, the UK, and Japan. Visitors climbed to a grassy slope nicknamed "Heritage Hill" to take roster photos of the heritage units as they slowly paraded by, took to the skies in airplanes for aerial views, and climbed an elevated platform for a panoramic view of the units parked in front of the 37-stall roundhouse and riding the 100-foot turntable at the North Carolina Transportation Museum in the Southern Railway Spencer Shops complex.
Artist Andrew Fletcher, whose work inspired the heritage units, and NS Chairman, President, and CEO Wick Moorman appeared at the event. Amtrak sent a display train with heritage unit 156 and an F40.
The units return to work with one group heading to Knoxville, Tenn., today, and another heading to Roanoke, Va., for set up or return to service. The Savannah & Atlanta heritage unit is set to pull excursions from Roanoke to Bristol on Saturday in place of ailing 2-8-0 No. 630. The N&W, Virginian, and Interstate heritage units will be on display Saturday at the Virginia Museum of Transportation, which is welcoming back Bi-centennial SD45 No. 1776, Trains magazine's 2011 Preservation Award Winner.