Posts Tagged ‘Norfolk & Western 475’

Steam Saturday: An Amtrak Detour to a Pa. Steam Weekend

February 20, 2021
Norfolk & Western 475 at Groff’s picnic grove

The wee hours of the Oct. 21, 2006, found Jeff Troutman and myself scheduled to board Amtrak’s eastbound Capitol Limited and transfer to the Pennsylvanian at Pittsburgh to get to Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

However things changed dramatically that morning. We eventually learned that a major derailment of a Norfolk Southern ethanol train had occurred on the bridge over the Beaver River at New Brighton, Pennsylvania.

That explained why Train 30 just sat in Cleveland and we never were able to board.

What we were offered was a reroute on the Lake Shore Limited to New York City and a connection to a Keystone Service train to Lancaster via Philadelphia.

After our enormous bonus mileage, we were able to partake of a Carl Franz photo special at 

Strasburg with Norfolk & Western 4-8-0  No. 475 and Great Western 2-10-0 No. 90.

Here are some highlights of that weekend outing.

Photographs by Edward Ribinskas  

N&W 475 and a sunrise spectacular
Between Carpenters and Leamon Place
N&W 475 runs alongside Great Western 90 at Groff’s


Weekend With 611: Sunday

October 3, 2019

Norfolk & Western 611 departs Groffs after meeting a train pulled by N&W 4-8-0 No. 475

On Sunday, Sept. 29, Ed Ribinskas, his wife, Ursula, and friends Karl West and Laura Lee Konczos were up early again to return to the Strasburg Rail Railroad for another day with Norfolk & Western 4-8-4 No. 611.

They had tickets to get into the cab of the Class J steam locomotive and take turns pulling its whistle cord.

Karl and Laura got to blow the whistle during the 10 a.m. session while Ed and Ursula got their turn at noon. Crew members instructed participants to pull the cord for two longs, a short and a long.

Ed and Karl rode the 12:30 p.m. excursion behind the 611 with Ed reporting they were the first two passengers to make their way to the platform end of the Hello Dolly car.

Ed said the lighting wasn’t perfect, but out on the line many people were photographing where the lighting was much worse, including some who were standing on the side of the tracks enveloped in shadows.

He also thought it odd that no one seemed to be getting the classic Strasburg shot of the steam locomotive passing the restored J Tower.

They weren’t able to stay for the entire day’s activities because they had a long drive back to Northeast Ohio.

So the 2:30 p.m. trip pulled by the 611 trip was the last one that they photographed before heading home.

On the drive out to Strasburg, Ed said he had some stories to tell as they passed the famous Rockville Bridge north of Harrisburg that carried the Pennsylvania Railroad mainline over the Susquehanna River.

He said he pointed it out as they drove past that a special event happened there in the summer of 1985.

Ed was there along with the late William Surdyk and his three sons, Marty, Robert and John, to ride an excursion train during the National Railroad Historical Society convention held in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

“I told everyone that the consist [included] Strasburg open window coaches. I also told it was a doubleheader of two steam locomotives but I wouldn’t tell them which locomotives until we went into the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania,” Ed said.

The special event was the photo runby executed at Rockville Bridge.

The steam locomotives that staged that runby, PRR 4-4-2 No. 7002 and PRR 4-4-0 No. 1223, are today on display at the museum.

Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

N&W 611 is getting set up for cab tours and whistle blows.

Laura Lee Konczos takes a turn in the engineer’s seat in the cab of the 611.

Karl West gets to be a steam locomotive engineer for a minute.

A Class J Passes J Tower

N&W Class M No. 475 passes J Tower.

One of the most recognized steam locomotives noses in America.

Getting into position for another trip.

A meeting of the noses of two Norfolk & Western steam locomotives.

Turning the 611 at Leaman Place where the Strasburg meets Amtrak’s Keystone Corridor.

N&W 611 and N&W 475 prepare to meet at Groff’s picnic area at Cherry Hill Road.

A meet between N&W 611 and N&W 475.

N&W 475 departs Groff’s.

A meet between N&W 475 and N&W 611.

Going away at Groff’s.

Weekend With N&W 611: Saturday

October 2, 2019

Norfolk & Western 4-8-4 No. 611 passes the engine house at the Strasburg Rail Road in Pennsylvania as it gets into position to offer cab tours.

Norfolk & Western 4-8-4 No. 611 is spending more than a month on the Strasburg Rail Rail pulling excursions, host visitors to its cab and posing alongside N&W 4-8-0 No. 475.

Ed Ribinskas traveled to Pennsylvania last weekend with his wife, Ursula, and good friends Karl West and Laura Lee Konczos for a fun-filled weekend of riding behind the Class J 611 and chasing it on the tourist railroad’s mainline.

He described the 611, the Strasburg Rail Road and the adjacent Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania as a first class trifecta and visiting them turned out to be a better experience than he had expected, not that he didn’t expect to have a good time.

How could you not enjoy seeing two steam locomotives in steam and pulling trains?

They arrived late Friday afternoon about 5 after the drive from Northeast Ohio and had time to scout the Strasburg for potential photo locations on Sunday.

All of that day’s scheduled activities have been completed, but the 611 was still simmering next to the shop area when they arrived.

After completing the scouting trip, they checked into a Clarion Hotel, had dinner and relaxed in their rooms while watching the Cleveland Indians being eliminated from contention for the final spot in the American League wildcard race by getting trounced by the Washington Nationals 8-2.

Well, not everything that weekend turned out for the better.

After having breakfast on Saturday morning, it was a short three-minute jaunt to the Strasburg Rail Road to pick up their tickets.

First up was a cab tour of the 611 at 9:30 a.m. where a crew member provided “thorough and informative” information. Ed said that during the tour he learned that parts from other N&W steam locomotives are interchangeable.

If you look closely at the images made of selected parts posted below, you’ll see that they came from Class A No. 1218 and Class J No. 605.

Ed and Ursula rode the 10:30 a.m. trip in the Hello Dolly open air car.

After returning from the 45-minute excursion, the 611 again set up for another round of cab tours and whistle blowing.

The afternoon was set aside for visiting the nearby museum. Karl and Laura held tickets to ride the 4:30 p.m. trip. As they rode, Ed and Ursula had water and lemonade at the cafe and looked around the gift shop.

Ed photographed the returning trip of the train pulled by N&W 475 from the platform and then waited in the parking lot near the water tank for the N&W 611 and its train to return.

Sunday would bring more riding and chasing and the opportunity to be the locomotive engineer of the 611 for a minute.

Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

Getting the inside scoop on how N&W J Class No. 611 operates during the cab tour.

A pair of Norfolk & Western steam locomotives put on a show at the Strasburg Rail Road.