Posts Tagged ‘N&W 611 excursions’

Steam Saturday: The J at Night

November 13, 2021

Norfolk & Western Class J 4-8-4 No. 611 was a primary star on Norfolk Southern’s steam schedule in 1984.

It’s first set of excursions near us were roundtrip Erie, Pennsylvania, and Buffalo, New York, trips, the weekend of Aug. 11 and 12, 1984.

We learned that the locomotive was laying over near downtown Erie prior to the trips. After work on Friday, Aug. 10, I joined Marty Surdyk and his brothers Robert and John to capture some night photography in Erie prior to the weekend excursions that we chased.

Dan Pluta had recently hooked up as a volunteer with the steam crew and aided us with our photography. We were happy with our results that night along with images captured on the next day’s excursion. Above are a couple of my night shots.

Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

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 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.

Arrival of N&W 611 at Strasburg Delayed

May 18, 2021

The arrival of Norfolk & Western 4-8-4 No. 611 at the Strasburg Rail Road has been delayed by mechanical problems.

Consequently, all events involving the 611 that had been scheduled for the Pennsylvania-based tourist railroad the weekend of May 21-23 have been cancelled.

The Virginia Museum of Transportation, which owns the Class J locomotive, said an inspection found a malfunction with the locomotive’s stoker that prevented the stoker from moving coal into the firebox.

Workers are seeking to repair the problem, the museum said in a news release.

The museum also cited security and safety reasons for declining to announce the timing and route of the ferry move to the Strasburg.

Earlier, the Strasburg had announced that the 611 would participate in a series of events there 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.

Steam Saturday: Double Header in Bellevue

March 20, 2021

How is this for a steam double header? It’s June 17, 1989, in Bellevue and Norfolk & Western J Class 4-8-4 No. 611 and Nickel Plate Road 2-8-2 light Mikado No. 587 have teamed up for an Independence Limited trip that began in Cleveland and would pause overnight later today in Muncie, Indiana.

The train’s ultimate destination was the National Railway Historical Society Convention in Roanoke, Virginia.

The 611 had earlier this month pulled excursions between Buffalo and Ashtabula, and even did a Conneaut-Bellevue round trip.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Steam Saturday: 1983 Independence Limited

February 6, 2021

It is July 27, 1983, and the wayback machine has landed us alongside the original Nickel Plate Road mainline east of Bellevue at Old Fort.

We are just in time to see Norfolk & Western J Class No. 611 cross the Sandusky River pulling the Independence Limited.

An all-time listing of excursions pulled by the 611 that was published in a book written by Jim Wrinn reports that the trip began that morning in Portsmouth, Ohio, and was bound for Fort Wayne, Indiana.

No. 611 was fresh off an appearance at that year’s National Railway Historical Society Convention in Richmond, Virginia.

For several years specials that were bound to or from an NRHS convention operated under the Independence Limited name.

This excursion of the Independence Limited would end in Chicago the next day.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Steam Saturday: N&W 611 in Orrville

December 2, 2020

Norfolk & Western J Class No. 611 is arguably best known today for its excursion service for Norfolk Southern than it was for revenue service for the N&W.

It pulled many a steam excursion through Ohio and other states during its prime.

In the photograph above, the 4-8-4 Northern type is westbound on the former Wheeling & Lake Erie at Orrville on May 13, 1989.

It was making a one way move from Kenovah, West Virginia, to Bellevue.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Now I Remember

August 2, 2020

It’s amazing how the mind works. In putting stories and photos together I’ve always remembered locomotives and locations that I want to share.

So many I can remember details like they just recently happened even though they’re up to 40 year memories.

Then I come across an event and location that I completely forgot. In the top photograph is the

Norfolk &Western 611 photo from May 7, 1989, at Fremont that I shared on the blog about two  weeks ago.

Then I found a photograph of N&W 1218 photo from a year later on May 27,1990, at Fremont that was completely gone from my memory.

This was from a weekend of Bellevue-Toledo round trips. Now I remember.

Article and Photographs by Edward Ribinskas