Posts Tagged ‘Norfolk & Western 611’

Steam Saturday: N&W 611 in Cleveland

February 26, 2022

Norfolk & Western 4-8-4 No. 611 pulls a westbound excursion through the Flats in Cleveland in early August 1985. The train is on former Nickel Plate Road tracks on a bridge spanning the Cuyahoga River Valley. The 611 pulled two round trips between Erie, Pennsylvania, and Bellevue on Aug. 3 and 4 that year.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Trestle Tales: Vestiges of the N&W

February 6, 2022

The Nickel Plate Road built a steel trestle over the Grand River in Painesville in 1905. It continued to stand through two changes in railroad ownership, the transition from steam to diesel power, and the end of passenger service.

But even a structure as imposing as a steel trestle is not forever. In March 2017 contractors hired by Norfolk Southern began building a new bridge largely constructed of pre-cast concrete.

That 1,318-foot structure opened to rail traffic on Sept. 30, 2018, when eastbound intermodal train 206 was the first train to use it.

The contractor then began removing the trestle, which was located north of the new bridge, and before the end of the year it was gone.

Since 2003 Ed Ribinskas has lived minutes away from the Painesville trestle. He attended Riverside High School, which was and still is a stone’s throw away from the trestle’s location.

The trestle appears in many of his railroad photographs made on the Nickel Plate Road mainline in Painesville.

This is the first of series of articles with photographs showing how the environment around the trestle and rail operations on the ex-NKP mainline between Cleveland and Buffalo have changed over the years.

Today, Ed looks back to the late 1980s during the first decade of NS operation.

In that era, the trestle was mostly clear of trees and brush. The top two images are thought to be train CN 90 and were made on March 29, 1986.

The CN 90 is shown the next day in the third photograph running long hood forward, which was the usual operating practice during the Norfolk & Western era of the 1970s and 1980s.

The last photo shows Norfolk & Western Class J No. 611 headed to Erie, Pennsylvania, on a ferry move on Aug. 1, 1986.

Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

Steam Saturday: An N&W 611 Memory

January 1, 2022

Paul Woodring, Jim Bacon, and I were in Roanoke, Virginia, on Sept. 6, 1982, for one of Norfolk & Western 611’s first excursions. This particular trip operated as the Independence Limited on a one way jaunt from Roanoke to Alexandria, Virginia. It operated after the 611’s inaugural trips on Aug. 20, 21 and 22 from Birmingham, Alabama, to Roanoke.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Steam Saturday: My First and Only Photograph of Observation Car ‘Lookout Mountain’

October 9, 2021

After seeing the article and photograph of the ex-Southern Railway (Iowa Pacific) passenger car  Lookout Mountain being transported to the Reading & Northern it prompted me to search through my archives.

I knew it was the tail car of two Southern excursions I rode in 1979 and 1980 behind Royal Hudson ex-Canadian Pacific No. 2839.

I for sure remember it being at the 1983 National Railway Historical Society’s Richmond Convention.

It was a special outing since it was my introduction to Norfolk & Western 4-8-4 No. 611. My first excursion behind it was the trip on the ex-Chesapeake & Ohio from Richmond to Balcony Falls, Virginia.

My very first photo ever of the Class J 611 was the first photo runby. The image is not great at all but it is the first.

The second and third images are from the second runby the latter being my only photo of the Lookout Mountain.

I do remember riding in it on the return trip along the James River. I do have footage from riding in it on the 8 mm movies I shot.

My photography improved at the runby at Balcony Falls as shown on the bottom image. All the pictures are from that July 21,1983, convention excursion.

My bucket list for 2022 is to see and ride the Lookout Mountain behind Reading 4-8-4 No. 2102.

Article and Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

N&W 611 to Remain at Strasburg for Winter

October 9, 2021

Norfolk & Western 4-8-4 No. 611 will continue its stay at the Strasburg Rail Road in Pennsylvania through the winter.

The J class locomotive is owned by the Virginia Transportation Museum but will undergo an annual inspection and any needed maintenance in Pennsylvania.

That includes a Federal Railroad Administration mandated inspection of the boiler’s flexible staybolts and caps.

The 611 has been at the Strasburg since May and hosted excursions and other events throughout the summer.

A news release announcing 611 is staying at the Strasburg did not indicate any future plans for the locomotive.

N&W 611 Traveling to Strasburg

May 26, 2021

Norfolk & Western 4-8-4 No. 611 departed Roanoke, Virginia, on Monday for the Strasburg Rail Road in Pennsylvania.

The Class J steam locomotive had been set to make that trip two weeks ago but was delayed due to a broken stoker screw.

The damaged part has since been repaired. The 611 will participate in a series of events at the Strasburg through Oct. 3.

N&W Stoker Issue Still Being Fixed

May 25, 2021

Norfolk & Western 4-8-4 No. 611 continues to have issues with its stoker that is delaying its move to the Strasburg Rail Road in Pennsylvania.

The Virginia Museum of Transportation, who owns the 611, said its workers have confirmed that the stoker problem is due to a break in the stoker screw.

Workers have separated the locomotive from its tender to reach and repair the problem area. The museum said the break was likely caused by a weak spot in the original casting.

The museum has not said when the repairs are expected to be finished and the locomotive ferried to Pennsylvania.

N&W to Travel to Pennsylvania Soon

May 21, 2021

Norfolk & Western 4-8-4 No. 611 is expected to travel to Strasburg, Pennsylvania, in the coming days after its coal stocker was repaired.

The Virginia Museum of Transportation, which owns the Class J locomotive, said “barring any unforeseen circumstances” the ferry move will be made.

Officials have cited safety and security concerns for declining to say when the 611 will travel.

The locomotive had been scheduled to be in Pennsylvania by now and operate this weekend on the Strasburg Rail Road.

But that was delayed by problems with the coal stocker that were discovered when in preparation for the ferry move last Monday the locomotive’s fireman found the stoker screw was not moving.

An inspection found it had broken a few feet into the tender. 

After separating the engine from its tender, workers removed 35 tons of coal. Museum officials said the cause of the stoker screw break was likely a weak spot in the original casting.

They said an internal void was observed extending toward the edge of the stoker screw.

One it arrives in Strasburg, the 611 is scheduled to participate in a series of events and pull excursion trains through October.

Steam Saturday: Last Time N&W 611 Visited Strasburg

April 24, 2021

This week the Strasburg Rail Road announced that Norfolk & Western Class J No. 611 would return to the Pennsylvania tourist railroad in May and spend the summer and early fall there.

There won’t be any high speed running, but visitors will be able to take cab tours, blow the whistle and watch the locomotive be prepared for excursions.

Engineer for a half hour opportunities sold out the first day they were posted.

Here is a look back to fall 2019 when the 611 offered similar events on the Strasburg.

Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

Strasburg Rail Road to Host N&W 611

April 21, 2021

The Strasburg Rail Road said this week that Norfolk & Western Class J No. 611 will spend much of the year on its grounds and pull a series of 45-minute excursions.

The 611 will be on site between May 21 and Oct. 3 and will be the motive power for the day’s main train on select days running to Paradise, Pennsylvania, and return.

Dates the 611 is expected to operate are May 22-23; May 29-30; June 5-6; July 2-4; July 10-11: July 17-18: July 24-25; Aug. 20-22; Aug. 27-29; Sept.4-5; Sept. 24-26; and Oct. 2-3.

Fares for coach and open air cars are $16.50 and $18.50. Tickets for first class are $22.50 and $27.50 and include parlor, lounge and club cars. Also available will be a dining car option and a wine and cheese event.

To purchase tickets for these events visit https://www.strasburgrailroad.com/611-at-strasburg/

On the website select “Regular Daily Steam Train” then search by date or accommodation.

Other events set to be offered include a hand-on-the-throttle event, a fireman’s seat event and a jump seat event.

The engineer’s eat event is described as a 30-minute experience allows participants to operate the locomotive.

Participants will receive an orientation about the controls and operate under the direction of a certified steam locomotive engineer.

The fireman’s seat experience also is a 30-minute event in which participants will serve as a locomotive fireman under the direction of an experienced steam locomotive fireman.

Some of these events have already sold out or are expected to sell out soon.

Also being advertised on the Strasburg website are various other experiences including blowing the whistle of the 611, working as a “hostler,” cab tours, and helping to fire up the locomotive before it sets out on its journeys.

The Strasburg Rail Road is located in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.