Posts Tagged ‘Norfolk & Western 2156’

Headed Back to St. Louis

June 14, 2020

Norfolk & Western 2-8-8-2 No. 2156 is being towed through Glen Hall, Indiana, on Saturday en route back home to St. Louis.

There was no smoke, no steam and, some might say, a lot of sadness.

But it was still a steam locomotive and there it was rolling west on a Class 1 mainline with its driver rods churning.

Scores of photographers and onlookers turned out in Indiana and east central Illinois on Saturday as Norfolk & Western 2-8-8-2 No. 2156 was ferried by Norfolk Southern westbound en route back to its home at the National Museum of Transport in St. Louis.

The Class Y6a had been on loan for the past five years to the Virginia Museum of Transportation in Roanoke where the three most notable N&W steam survivors were united.

The other two of the big three, which also had been built in Roanoke, are N&W 4-8-4 No. 611 and N&W 2-6-6-4 No. 1218.

The 611 and 1218 are known for their roles in pulling excursion trains but the 2156 has not been operational since its July 1959 retirement.

The 2156 left Roanoke on the afternoon of June 10, taking ancestral rails via Bluefield, West Virginia, and Portsmouth, Ohio, before getting onto former Pennsylvania Railroad rails in Columbus.

At Bellevue, the 2156 took former Nickel Plate Road rails to Fort Wayne, Indiana, where it got on the former Wabash mainline to St. Louis.

For many years all of the routes covered by the 2156 on its ferry move were part of the N&W network although once it got north of Columbus it was in territory that N&W never owned while the 2156 was worked in revenue service.

The ferry move, operating under NS symbol 957, reached Portsmouth late in the afternoon of June 11.

It then began an overnight run to Bellevue that turned into a much longer ordeal than expected.

Reports from a Facebook Page known as “Tracking Norfolk & Western 2156” indicated that the 957 tripped a detector on the Sandusky District near Bucyrus and was ordered into a siding.

The Facebook page, which appeared to be linked to the locomotives owners, also reported there being some unspecified mechanical issues.

The operating crew “outlawed” at 4:40 a.m. on Friday and it would be more than 12 hours before the special move got moving again.

During that time the 2156 was on “static display” in Bucyrus.

A relief crew finally arrived at 7:45 p.m. and train 957 finally chugged out of the siding at 8:47 p.m.

Another crew took over in Bellevue and left after midnight for the run to Fort Wayne.

Although I was vaguely aware the 2157 would be ferried back to St. Louis I didn’t know the particulars.

I happened upon a report early Saturday morning on of the ferry move.

At the time I was with another railfan friend from Indianapolis waiting to catch Amtrak’s westbound Cardinal north of Crawfordsville, Indiana.

Our plan was to spend most of the day railfanning the CSX St. Louis line. We did spend some time there but spent most of the afternoon staking out the NS Lafayette District east of Attica, Indiana, in an are so remote that neither of us has cell phone service and thus couldn’t continue to follow the progress of the 2156.

We wound up moving further east to Glen Hall to intercept train 957. I got cloud skunked in part at Glen Hall so we scurried westward to a grade crossing where the sun favored views from the north side of the tracks.

The 957 was limited to a top speed of 25 miles per hour and when we caught it the dispatcher had sandwiched it into a westbound convoy led by the 15Q with stack train 21T trailing.

I would think at some point the stack train was moved ahead of the 957 although I don’t know that for sure.

The 957 had as its motive power a rank and file SD60E. Escorting the 2156 were NS office car No. 7 (Pennsylvania) and a boxcar.

It would have looked nice had the 957 been led by the Norfolk & Western heritage unit or even the Wabash H unit.

In the weeks preceding the ferry move there had been discussion in online railfan chat lists about which museum is the proper home for the 2156.

Some argued passionately that it belongs in Roanoke with the 611 and 1218 in part because the 2156 had been built there in March 1942 and the other two had been built there as well.

Others disagreed, saying there was nothing wrong with keeping the 2156 in Missouri. I don’t have strong feelings wither way but I can understand why some want Y6a in Roanoke.

The 2156 is the sole survivor of the 16-member Y6a class and also is the only survivor of the Y5, Y7, Y6a and Y6b locomotive line.

Reportedly the St. Louis and Roanoke museums talked about the latter buying the 2156 but could not reach an agreement.

I was last at the National Museum of Transport in July 2001 so I probably saw and might have photographed the 2156 then.

But Saturday was the first time I’d seen the 2156 moving. It may be the last time.

Coming into the hamlet of Glen Hall, Indiana, on the Lafayette District of Norfolk Southern.

Another view of N&W Y6a No. 2156 at Glen Hall, Indiana.

I was able to get ahead of NS 957 and catch it at a grade crossing a few miles west.


NS assigned office car No. 7 (Pennsylvania) to help escort the N&W 2156.

The other side of N&W 2156 as it continues its westbound trek on the NS Lafayette District.

One last look at the N&W 2156 and its train.

N&W Steam Locomotive to Return to St. Louis

May 20, 2020

A former Norfolk & Western Y6a steam locomotive that has spent the past five years in Virginia will return to St. Louis.

Engine No. 2156 is being prepared for shipment to the National Transportation of Museum in Missouri after being loaded to the Virginia Museum of Transportation since 2015.

Officials say there is no timeline for the locomotive’s return and the St. Louis museum is closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The St. Louis museum loaned the 2156 to the Virginia museum in May 2015 in exchange for the Virginia museum’s EMD FTB demonstrator diesel.

The N&W steamer was pulled dead in tow by Norfolk Southern to Roanoke, Virginia, arriving about the time that N&W Class J No. 611 returned to operation.

No. 2156 was built in Roanoke in 1942 and is one of only two N&W 2-8-8-2s that survive.

The Virginia museum sought to purchase the 2156 but its offer, which included some exchange of equipment, wasn’t accepted by the St. Louis museum.

Virginia museum board member Will Harris told Trains magazine that he hopes a exchange and/or purchase can be worked out in the future.

When the 2156 is returned to St. Louis, the FTB diesel will be moved back to Virginia.

Virginia Museum Plans To Recreate ’50s Photo

May 20, 2015

When Norfolk & Western J Class No. 611 returns to its home in Roanoke, Va., on May 31, a welcoming committee will be on hand to greet it.

No, not the hundreds, if not thousands, who will witness the 4-8-4 roll into town under its own power.

Waiting will also be two other steam locomotives built by N&W shops forces in the 1940s and 1950.

Those include Class A No. 1218 and Y6 No. 2156. The three survivors of the “Big Three of N&W steam locomotives will be posed side by side in a recreation of a image made six decades ago featuring No. 600, No. 1203 and No. 2123.

The photo opportunity will be part of the Celebrate Steam event being hosted by the Virginia Museum of Transportation on May 31.

The 611 and 1218 are owned by the museum and were mainstays of the Norfolk Southern steam program that ended in 1994. The 2156 is owned by the Museum of Transportation in St. Louis and is on a five-year loan to the Virginia museum.

The event will be held from 10 a.m., to 5 p.m. Admission will be $25 per person ($20 for museum members) with children 12 and under admitted at no charge.

Other activities include cab tours of the 611 and the chance to meet Thomas Garver, who was an assistant to photographer O. Winston Link on many of his photo shoots of steam operations along the N&W in the 1950s. Music will be provided by the Norfolk Southern Lawmen Band.

A bus tour to the Roanoke East End Shops, where the locomotives were built, and the NS Shaffer’s Crossing engine service facilities will be available for an extra charge.

Tour tickets are $10 for everyone over age 3. Younger children are free if they can sit on the laps of their parents.

You must purchase a ticket to the Celebrate Steam event in order to buy a tour ticket. The tour will leave between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. and have limited seating.

For more information, go to

Chasing the N&W 2156 in Indiana, Ohio

May 13, 2015

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With the historic ferry move of Norfolk & Western 2156 through Ohio, I wanted to catch it somewhere on its route.

With the speed of this move no more than 25 m.p.h., it looked like it would go through Ohio in the dark.  It did although it went south of Columbus in daylight on Monday morning.

Not knowing exactly when it would traverse the state, I drove to Indiana on Sunday to catch the move.  I arrived in Peru just after it had left.

I caught up to it at Huntington and followed it into Ohio before heading for home, getting many good photos along the way.

The 2-8-8-2 Y6A class locomotive made good time to its destination of Roanoke, Virginia, arriving there on Tuesday at about 3:20 p.m.

The locomotive, which was not in steam during the ferry move from the Museum of Transportation in St. Louis, made a daylight run across the Kenova District of Norfolk Southern on Monday between Portsmouth, Ohio, and Williamson, West Virginia.

After a lengthy service stop, the 2156 and its entourage left Williamson before dawn and reached Iaeger, West Virginia at about 7 a.m. on Tuesday.

The journey over the Pocahontas Division took the 2156 over its one-time stomping ground.

The ferry move arrived in Bluefield at mid-morning and was less than 100 miles from Roanoke by noon.

Photographs by Todd Dillon

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N&W 2156 Moves Briskly Through Indiana, Ohio

May 12, 2015

Norfolk & Western steamer 2156 passed through Ohio Sunday night and Monday morning before leaving the state in mid afternoon on Monday. The locomotive was not in steam.

The 2-8-8-2 Y6a began a ferry move late Saturday morning at the Museum of Transportation west of St. Louis along the former Missouri Pacific (now owned by Union Pacific).

It took much of the afternoon to move the 2156 and its train through the St. Louis metropolitan area.

The train, which included a Norfolk Southern diesel locomotive, was picked up at the museum by a Union Pacific local and taken to UP’s 12th Street Yard in St. Louis.

Using the NS diesel, the Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis moved the train to Granite City, Illinois.

NS took over moving the 2156 ferry train from there and it traveled through the night via Decatur, Illinois, where it was reported to have passed through at 1:30 a.m.

Daybreak found the 2156 near the Illinois-Indiana border, passing Attica, Indiana, at 9:08 a.m. and Clymers at 11:10 a.m.

After a service stop at Peru, the steam engine, which was being pulled by NS GP40-2 No. 3068, departed at 2:20 p.m.

The ferry movement was restricted to a maximum speed of 25 on NS track. It was reported past Wabash, Indiana, at 2:50 p.m. and Huntington at 3:45 p.m.

Online reports showed the 2156 in Fort Wayne, Indiana, at 4:50 p.m., at Leipsic, Ohio, at 7:45 p.m. and at Fostoria at 9:40 p.m.

Traveling the Sandusky District during nighttime hours, the 2156 was reported by Cooke Road in Columbus at 7:12 a.m., Circleville at 8:35 a.m. and Chillicothe at 10:14 a.m. It arrived in Portsmouth Ohio, at about 12:15 p.m. where the ferry train underwent a crew change.

While in Portsmouth, the 2156 was greased and inspected. It departed about 2:30 p.m.

Although not adhering to a schedule, the ferry move has moved steadily since leaving the St. Louis museum.

Railroad officials had said the ferry move to Roanoke might take as much as a week, depending on traffic. The 2156 is en route to the Virginia Museum of Transportation in Roanoke, where it will reside for the next five years.

In Roanoke, the 2156 will join two surviving steam locomotives from N&W’s Big Three – Class A 2-6-6-4 No. 1218 and Class J No. 611.

The ferry train also included auxiliary tender VMTX No. 250001, office car No. 20 (Ohio), tool car No. 1407 and coach NS 44 (Florida).

No. 2156 was built in 1942 in Roanoke and retired in 1959. It is one of two 2-8-8-2s in existence, the other being Y3A No. 2050.

Built by American Locomotive Co. in 1923, the 2050 is on display at the Illinois Railway Museum.

N&W 2156 to begin Ferry Move to Roanoke

May 4, 2015

Another Norfolk & Western steam locomotive is about to embark on a return journey to Roanoke, Va., but this one will not be under steam.

N&W Y6a No. 2156 is set to begin the trek from St. Louis to Roanoke on Saturday, expecting to arrive in time to mark the arrival of Class J No. 611’s return.

No. 2156 is currently housed at the Museum of Transportation near St. Louis and is being loaned for five years to the Virginia Museum of Transportation.

The expected route of the 2156 is via Union Pacific tracks from the museum site in Missouri to an interchange with Norfolk Southern in St. Louis.

Once on NS rails, the 2156 will go dead-in-town at 25 mph via Decatur, Ill., Fort Wayne, Ind., and Bellevue and Columbus, Ohio.

Railroad officials have said that the dead-head move will not adhere to a schedule and may move at any hour of the day.

The journey may take as much as a week, depending on traffic. Included in the consist will be NS office car No. 20 (Ohio), a newly painted canteen car that will accompany the 611 on excursions this year (VMTX No. 250001) and tool car No. 1407.

In exchange for the 2756, the Missouri museum will receive an FTB diesel unit.

No. 2156, a 2-8-8-2, was built in 1942 in Roanoke and retired in 1959.