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.

LATEST NEWS

Trains News Wire Round Up for Aug. 23

A new paint scheme for CSX, Big Boy's western tour, Genesee & Wyoming sale update

611 spends an extra night in Virginia on the way to Strasburg

SHENANDOAH, Va. — Norfolk & Western No. 611 will try to escape from Virginia again today. After leaving homebase in Roanoke, Va., Monday morning, the locomotive tied down for the night in the division point of Shenandoah, Va., Monday night after an attempt to reach Enola Yard, just outside Harrisburg, Pa., on its way to the Strasburg Rail Road. A long freight train, 16T, with troublesome distributed power units and a broken coupler knuckle ahead of No. 611’s train changed that...
MORE ABOUT: n&w 611 , steam preservation , east

Norfolk & Western No. 611 begins trip to Pennsylvania and the Strasburg

BUENEA VISTA, Va. — Norfolk & Western 4-8-4 No. 611 has begun its trek to Pennsylvania, but its northbound run through the Shenandoah Valley is going less than smooth thanks to a freight train with a dead distributed power unit ahead of it. The locomotive left Roanoke, Va., behind Norfolk Southern C40-9W No. 9214 as the steam locomotive does not have Positive Train Control or cab signals. It is moving via the former N&W Shenandoah Valley line to Hagerstown, Md., and eventually Ha...
MORE ABOUT: n&w 611 , steam preservation , south

PHOTO GALLERY

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

VIDEO

Trains News Wire Round Up for Aug. 23

A new paint scheme for CSX, Big Boy's western tour, Genesee & Wyoming sale update

Trains News Wire video for March 15

Big Boy No. 4014, Norfolk & Western No. 611, Amtrak looks at Duluth

Trains News Wire video for June 22

Reopenings in Oregon and Colorado, derailments in Wisconsin and Indiana, investment in British Columbia

LIVE STREAM COVERAGE

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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SEE INSIDE THIS ISSUE

Learn more about the stories and photos in this months issue

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