N&W No. 611 to visit Strasburg Rail Road for four weeks

Famed 4-8-4 will visit Pennsylvania tourist railroad for weekend events in September and October
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N&W No. 611 will travel to Pennsylvania's Strasburg Rail Road for four weekends in September and October.
Kevin Gilliam

ROANOKE, Va. — Norfolk & Western Class J locomotive No. 611 will travel to Pennsylvania’s Strasburg Rail Road for four weekends of events in September and October.

The Virginia Museum of Transportation and Strasburg will combine for events including an opportunity to ride behind the restored N&W 4-8-4, opportunities to operate and fire the locomotive, cab rides, and photo charters. Classic car shows, behind-the-scene shop tours, and other family-centered events are also planned.

“Since its restoration, the Virginia Museum of Transportation has sought opportunities for the 611 to engage people from all walks of life,” museum board member Brian Barton said in a press release. “The partnership with the Strasburg Rail Road allows us to spark a fascination with steam locomotives and transportation, our history, steam technology, mechanical engineering, and design.”

The events will reunite No. 611 with Strasburg’s N&W Class M locomotive, No. 475, a 4-8-0 built in 1906 and in service on the N&W until 1962.

“Reuniting 475 and 611 is a rare opportunity for railfans and heritage railroad tourists alike,” Steve Barrall, station master at Strasburg, said in the release. “When the two locomotives are side-by-side, you will see, hear, and feel how the Norfolk & Western Railway revolutionized steam technology in under 50 years.”

The Strasburg events include:

— Sept. 28-29: A Norfolk & Western Railway Steam Reunion.

— Oct. 4-6: Railfan Photography Extravaganza

— Oct. 12-14 Rail & Road: A Transportation Evolution

— Oct. 19-20: At the Throttle of Norfolk & Western Steam.

Tickets, which range from $5 to $750, depending on the event, are available at the Strasburg Rail Road website beginning Friday, March 15.

Norfolk Southern played an instrumental role in bringing the two organizations together, Barton said. “Without the support from Norfolk Southern, the VMT would not be allowed to ferry the locomotive to special events. For the safety of the railroad’s crews, railfans, and the general public, the ferry moves will not be announced beforehand.”

The Strasburg trip will be the first action for No. 611 since a Virginia Museum of Transportation event in September 2018. The trip to Pennsylvania reflects an idea first suggested by museum director Beverly Fitzpatrick in 2017, that the museum was interested in “broadening the base” of the locomotive’s operations by sending it farther from home. [See “Museum considers sending No. 611 farther afield,” Trains News Wire, May 26, 2017.]


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