Posts Tagged ‘Fireup611!’

N&W 611 Makes Ferry Move to North Carolina

January 7, 2017

The first trip under steam of 2017 of Norfolk & Western No. 611 occurred on Friday when the J class locomotive left Roanoke, Virginia, for North Carolina.

Fire up 611The 4-8-4 left the home of its owner, the Virginia Museum of Transportation, to travel to the North Carolina transportation Museum for overhaul work.

No. 611 is scheduled to pull public excursions over Norfolk Southern tracks in April and May in North Carolina and Virginia.

The ferry move followed the former Virginian Railway to a connection at Hurt, Virginia, to a former Southern Railway route.

The consist of the train included an auxiliary water car, two tool cars, and a gondola.

The April trips will depart from the North Carolina cities of Spencer and Greensboro while the May excursions will depart from the Virginia cities of Lynchburg and Roanoke. Tickets will go on sale at noon on Jan. 12 at

Tickets Still Available for N&W 611 Excursions

March 22, 2016

Although many of the tickets for trips behind Norfolk & Western 4-8-4 No. 611 have been sold, some are still available for the April 23-24 trips out of Greensboro, North Carolina.

The Virginia Museum of Transportation reports that 80 percent of the tickets have been sold for the Saturday trip to Roanoke, Virginia.

Fire up 611However, only about 23 percent of the tickets for the Sunday trip have been sold.

The April excursions from Greensboro will use a portion of the former Virginian Railway to reach Roanoke.

Tickets are still available in standard, deluxe, first class, dome class and chairman’s class. The latter includes meals and appetizers.

The museum said that between 80 to 90 percent of the tickets have been sold for the May 7-8 excursions, which will leave from Roanoke.

Trips on June 4-5 that will follow the former Southern Railway through northern Virginia still have plenty of tickets available. The Saturday trip is about 29 percent sold and the Sunday excursion is 44 percent sold.

For more information about trips and ticket availability, visit

N&W 611 Return to Roanoke Celebrated by 2,000

June 2, 2015

More than 2,000 cheered restored Norfolk & Western Class J No. 611 as it returned to Roanoke, Virginia, this past weekend.

The 4-8-4 pulled an 18-car VIP special from Spencer, North Carolina, that encountered no major difficulties other than a defect detector near Evington that turned out to be a false alarm.

Spectators lined the tracks as the train north through the Piedmont region of North Carolina and Virginia.

Crowds seemed to grow in number as the train reached the former N&W rails in Lynchburg. There were so many chasers on parallel U.S. Route 460 that it nearly reached gridlock.

With Norfolk Southern company photographer following the train in a helicopter, it was easy for chaser to know where it was.

During ceremonies in Roanoke, various dignitaries thanked members of the Fire up 611! Committee, the Virginia Museum of Transportation, NS and the more than 3,000 donors who contributed money for the restoration.

Also speaking was NS Chairman Wick Moorman. He and past Chairman David Goode were honored for their roles in railway preservation in this one-time N&W headquarters city.

The Virginia museum owns the steam locomotive, which was built in Roanoke 65 years ago, having been completed on May 29, 1950.

The 611 is slated to leave Roanoke on Wednesday for a ferry move to Manassas, Virginia, where is will be the featured attraction at a railroad festival this weekend.

Tickets for public excursions are still available

Additional excursions will leave Lynchburg and Roanoke later this month and over the July 4 weekend.

N&W 611 Excursion Tickets Selling at Brisk Pace

May 8, 2015

Nearly half of the available tickets for excursions to be pulled this summer by restored Norfolk & Western No. 611 have been sold.

“Ticket sales are not only where we expected them to be, but slightly beyond our projections,” says Peg McGuire, the marketing manager of the Virginia Museum of Transportation.

Orders have been placed from all over the United States as well as Japan, Italy, Germany and Russia. “Standard coach and deluxe coach have been the fastest selling tickets so far,” McGuire said.

Some classes have sold out already, including standard coach tickets for the Manassas to Front Royal, Va., excursions on June 6 and 7.

Standard coach tickets have also sold out sold out for the weekend excursions operating to Petersburg from Lynchburg, Va., on June 13 and 14.

The excursions being the J-Class 611 will operate in June and July out of the Virginia cities of Manassas, Lynchburg and Roanoke.
For more information, go to

N&W 611 Gets Parts Back on; Fire Up 611! Committee Assigns Claytor Additional Duties

April 28, 2015

Workers have placed the lagging, jacketing, skyline casing and bullet nose of the Norfolk & Western No. 611 back onto the locomotive boiler

The J Class 4-8-4 is now ready to be painted. Other tasks that remain to be completed to restore the locomotive to operating condition include the application of main rods, piston valves and pistons, final servicing of the air brake and electrical systems, and installation of the air compressors.

The work is being done at the North Carolina Transportation Museum in Spencer, N.C.

The Fire Up 611! Committee also announced the appointment of Preston Claytor as excursion director.

Claytor, the son of the late Robert B. Clayor, has already been serving as project manager for the 611 restoration. The senior Claytor served as the first chairman and CEO of Norfolk Southern and pushed for restoration of the 611 in the early 1980s.

The junior Claytor has been negotiating equipment leases, communicating with Norfolk Southern about upcoming operations, and coordinating arrangements with the cities that are origin and destination stations for upcoming excursions to be pulled by the 611.

Gary Gray has been named Fire Up 611! excursion manager and will oversee car hosts, concession staff and telephone support representatives. He also coordinate arrangements for parking and destination entertainment.

N&W 611, SOU 4501 Test Runs Scheduled on NS

April 24, 2015

Test runs have been set for the Norfolk & Western No. 611 and Southern Railway No. 4501 before they pull their first excursion trains this year on Norfolk Southern rails.

The J Class 611 will hit the rails on May 20 or 21 for a shakedown cruise from Spencer, N.C., to Greensboro, N.C., a round trip of about 110 miles.

The 4-8-4 will pull NS coaches currently stored at the North Carolina Railroad Museum in Spencer.  The 611 is in the final stages of being restored to operating condition.

Officials said that Greensboro was chosen rather than Asheville, N.C., or Statesville, N.C., because the trip over the primary main line to Greensboro provides a longer and faster run.

As for the 4501, it will do a test run between its home in Chattanooga, Tenn., and Cleveland, Tenn., a distance of 25 miles one way.

The 1911 Baldwin-built Mikado is owned by the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum and was restored last year.

The 4501 will pull its first public excursion on June 27 from Bristol, Tenn., to Bulls Gap, Tenn. The next day it will travel from Bristol to Radford, Va.

Tickets are on sale at Additional excursions are slated for September and early October out of Macon, Ga., and Atlanta.

The 611 was built at the N&W shops in Roanoke, Va., in 1950. It is set to be painted next week and to undergo test steaming in Spencer in early May after the locomotive is reunited with its tender.

It will steam home to Roanoke on May 30 on a one-way VIP-only trip via Lynchburg, Va., arriving in Roanoke to a welcome home celebration the next day at the Virginia Museum of Transportation, which owns the 611.

Public excursions behind the 611 have been set for June and July, originating in Manassas, Va.,  Lynchburg, Va., and Roanoke. Details and tickets are at

N.C. Museum Sets 2 N&W 611 Public Events

April 19, 2015

Two public events have been set that will give photographers a look at Norfolk & Western J Class No. 611 at the North Carolina Transportation Museum in Spencer, N.C., where the locomotive is in the final stages of being restored to operating condition.

The museum on May 23 will host a “611 Send-Off Celebration” complete with a cake and the opportunity to look inside the locomotive cab

The 611 will also be moved on and off the roundhouse turntable with 10 lucky winners being able to purchase 30 minutes of throttle time at a cost of $611 per slot on a first-come, first-served basis.

The throttle times will be sold online at 9 a.m. on April 21. To order, go to

Trains magazine editor Jim Wrinn is coordinating a photo charter featuring the 611 that will be run on May 28. Wrinn is a a 29-year NCTM volunteer and a member of the Fire Up 611! Committee.

The 611 will be posed on the turntable and with other steam and diesel locomotives from the museum’s collection.

It will pull a Tuscan red passenger train with the museum’s heavyweight N&W combine as well as a freight cars, thus replicating the late 1950s local freight service that Class J locomotives saw before their retirement.

The museum’s N&W Tuscan red-painted GP9, No. 620, also will be part of the event.

A night photo session and barbecue luncheon featuring Fire Up 611! Chairman Preston Claytor are also planned.

Tickets are limited and will go on sale at 9 a.m. on April 20. They will cost $250 per person. To order, go to

Tickets may also be ordered by calling 704-636-2889, extension 224.


11 Excursions Behind N&W 611 Set for June, July

April 19, 2015

The first public excursions in more than two decades featuring Norfolk & Western J Class No. 611 will run in Virginia during June and July.

The Virginia Museum of Transportation, which owns the 611, said there will be 11 excursions with trains departing the Virginia cities of Manassas, Lynchburg and Roanoke.

The first trips will be 102-mile excursions on June 6 and 7 between Manassas and Riverton Junction over former Southern Railway tracks.

A morning trip will run on June 6 while morning and afternoon trips will operate on June 7. The excursions, which have been named The American, will be part of the annual Manassas Heritage Railway Festival.

The weekend of June 13 and 14 will feature 260-mile round trip excursions between Lynchburg and Petersburg. Operating as The Cavalier, the trips will feature a two-hour layover in Petersburg.

For Independence Day weekend, the 611 will pull 98-mile roundtrips on July 3, 4, and 5 between Roanoke and Lynchburg in the morning and then an 84-mile roundtrip between Roanoke and Radford (Walton Junction.

Operating as The Pelican, there will be no layover and passengers will not be permitted to leave the train during the trips to Lynchburg.

The afternoon trips, which operate as The Powhatan Arrow, will put the 611 and its train over the fabled Christiansburg grade. There will be no layover and passengers will not be permitted to leave the train.

Tickets for the excursions will go on sale on May 6. Additional information will be posted at

611 Ferry Move back to Roanoke Set for May 30

April 19, 2015

The long-awaited return of Norfolk & Western Class J No. 611 after its restoration will occur on May 30 when the 4-8-4 will travel under steam from North Carolina to its home in Roanoke, Va.

The 220-mile trip will begin on the former Southern Railway main line with No. 611 entering its former home rails at Lynchburg, Va.

From there the 611 will traverse a route that it once traveled in scheduled passenger service in the 1950s.

No public tickets are being sold for the ferry move to Roanoke, which the 611 is expected to make without any diesel helpers.

However, a welcome home reception for the 611 in Roanoke at the former N&W passenger station will be open to the public. The 611 is expected to arrive in Roanoke between 2 and 6 p.m.

Among the VIPs who will be aboard the excursion train to Roanoke will be NS CEO Wick Moorman and President Jim Squires.

The 611 is owned by the Virginia Museum of Transportation and officials say that the May 30 date is significant because it is 65 years and one day after the engine entered revenue service and one year after its appearance at the Streamliners at Spencer festival that in part served as a kickoff for the locomotive’s restoration at the North Carolina Transportation Museum.

In the meantime, workers have completed insulating the 611’s boiler. Jacketing and painting the locomotive are the next tasks to complete. A testing firing will then be conducted before the locomotive makes its test runs.

The 611 was one of 14 Class J passenger locomotives built at Roanoke in 1950 and ran in revenue service through 1959.

It was displayed in Roanoke’s Wasena Park until being restored to operating condition in 1981. It pulled numerous excursions through late 1994 when it was placed on display at the Virginia transportation museum in Roanoke.

The museum in 2013 began a study that concluded that the 611 could be restored for $3.5 million with another $1.5 million needed for an endowment.

The museum has thus far raised more than $3 million from across the United States and 19 countries.

Fund raising continues for an on-campus shop and education facility that the museum hopes to begin constructing this summer.

Va. Museum Tour to Inspect N&W 611 Progress

April 7, 2015

The Virginia Museum of Transportation will sponsor a bus tour to Spencer, N.C., that will enable participants to see the restoration of Norfolk & Western No. 611.

Tickets for the April 23 trip will be $50 for museum members and $55 for non members.  The fare will include transportation, a box lunch and admission to the museum.

The VMT owns the 611, which is being restored at the North Carolina Transportation Museum.

While at the museum, participants will enjoy a a train ride at the museum grounds and a presentation and tour of 611’s restoration by a member of the Fire Up 611! Committee.  For more information, go to

In the meantime, workers continue to paint the J Class 4-8-4’s tender with Axalta coating. The paint crews have being working in two shifts per day.

Axalta donated 30 gallons of black, eight gallons of Tuscan red and four gallons of gold. It also supplied a product needed to mix the paint and 24 gallons of clear coating that will give the locomotive a glossy appearance.

Norfolk Southern’s Birmingham Steam Shop used the same colors and product more than 20 years ago.

Willetts Railcar Services prepared the tender surfaces and built a paint booth. Ken Miller designed the replacement stenciling of Norfolk & Western lettering for the side of the tender.