N&W 611 joins the 21st Century Steam Program

One of the most anticipated events in steam restoration became a reality when Norfolk Southern Corp. announced that Norfolk & Western no. 611 would return for a series of steam excursions starting May 30. “Sixty-five years after the Class J 611 was built at N&W’s shops in Roanoke and placed into service for the first time May 29, 1950, the locomotive is scheduled to return under steam May 30, fulfilling the dreams of its Virginia Museum of Transportation owners and rail enthusiasts worldwide,” according to a release.

The Virginia Museum of Transportation is joining the 21st Century Steam Program this year, along with Forth Worth Railway Historical Society (operators of the Nickel Plate 765) and the Tennesee Valley Railroad Museum (operators of Southern 4501). The 611 will debut on a private excursion on May 30, and then operate three public trips during the weekend of June 6, June 13, and July 4.

After a study launched in 2013 by VMT determined N&W 611 was an excellent candidate for restoration, more than $3 million in donations were raised to fund the project. Rebuilding work took place at the North Carolina Transportation Museum in Spencer, N.C. Additional funds will be raised to establish a repair and storage facility on the VMT campus in Roanoke.

For the complete schedule of steam excursions, please visit nscorp.com.

—Railfan & Railroad via Norfolk Southern Corp.