Posts Tagged ‘Roanoke Virginia’

On the Road to Roanoke in July 1987

June 16, 2020

In late July 1987, I met up with the Surdyk family (William, Marty, Robert and John) in Parma Heights on the first step of a Rails to Roanoke trip for the 1987 National Railway Historical Society convention.

It would be a week long adventure. Our first stop was Cass, West Virginia, to ride and photograph the Cass Scenic Railroad.

We then spent the next two days photographing the Chesapeake & Ohio mainline in West Virginia and Virginia while working our way to the Shenandoah line to catch the inbound convention trip from Alexandria, Virginia, to Roanoke.

We met up with it at Delaplane, Virginia, and were able to photograph it at least 12 locations. We rode the Thursday July 30 trip behind Norfolk & Western Class A No. 1218 from Roanoke to Bluefield, West Virginia.

N&W Class J No. 611 would power our return to Roanoke. We did some photography east of Roanoke prior to the equipment display on July 31, which will start the second part of this series.

Article and Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

Amtrak’s Cardinal at Fort Spring, West Virginia, on July 26, 1987.

Big Bend Tunnel in West Virginia , on the C&O on July 27, 1987.

At Alleghany Tunnel in West Virginia on July 27, 1987. The locomotive engineer doing a roll by inspection is wearing a Chief Wahoo hat.

Southern FP7s on the Shenandoah line on July 29, 1987.

Southern FP7s at Buchanan, Virginia.

At Bedford, Virginia on July 31.

NS to Move Loco Shop Jobs to Altoona From Roanoke

February 19, 2020

Altoona, Pennsylvania, will be gaining jobs at the Juniata Locomotive Shop of Norfolk Southern but those gains will come at the expense of Roanoke, Virginia.

NS said it will close its Roanoke Distribution Center and transfer its locomotive shop work and jobs to Altoona.

The job cuts will reduce NS employment in the Roanoke region to 650.

The carrier said the downsizing comes in the wake of a 22 percent cut in the size of its locomotive fleet since 2018.

As a result NS said it no longer needs two heavy-repair locomotive facilities.

Another factor in the closing of the Roanoke shop is a decline in rail traffic through that city with coal volume having fallen by 48 percent and more declines expected.

About 85 NS mechanical workers will be affected in Roanoke and offered jobs in Altoona.

They also will be offered unspecified relocation benefits.

However, 19 clerical positions will be eliminated although those workers will be given the opportunity to apply for open positions elsewhere on NS.

NS said it expects the Roanoke Distribution Center will continue in operation through April 18 while workers at the Roanoke Locomotive Shop will remain on the job through May 18.

NS Furlough Workers in Altoona, Roanoke

September 4, 2019

Norfolk Southern has furloughed at least 230 workers at shops in Altoona, Pennsylvania, and Roanoke, Virgnia.

News reports indicate that 100 workers were furloughed in Altoona while 130 received furlough notices in Roanoke.

NS confirmed the job cuts in a statement sent to news media in both cities.

The media reports indicated NS had reduced its workforce in both cities in Altoona in May and in Roanoke in April.

N&W 611 Won’t Offer Excursions in 2018

June 18, 2018

In an announcement that was not really much of a surprise, the Virginia Museum of Transportation said over the weekend that there will be no mainline excursions this year for Norfolk & Western Class J No. 611.

However, the 4-8-4 built in Roanoke, Virginia, will be steamed up at a later date and available for public view.

“We are very pleased to announce that we are engaged in substantive conversations about exciting potential 2019 excursions and special appearances for 611,” said Trey Davis, chairman of the Forward 611 Committee. “We will continue to seek opportunities for the public to experience a pivotal piece of American history firsthand, under steam.”

Museum officials cited Amtrak’s new policies restricting excursions and specials for grounding No. 611.

Amtrak has expressed a willingness to meet with museum officials later this year to discuss future excursion opportunities.

No. 611 is currently at the North Carolina Transportation Museum having mechanical work done at the Spencer shops.

The locomotive is expected to return to Roanoke later this summer amid some public events. Details about those events have yet to be announced.

“We’re working hard to ensure the public continues to have opportunities to engage with 611 and are planning unique events to provide opportunities to experience 611 under steam in 2018,” said Will Harris, president of the VTM board of directors. “The Virginia Museum of Transportation and NCTM are both planning special events with the locomotive in Roanoke and Spencer, respectively.”

One event at which the 611 is expected to appear is the Sept. 29 annual Big Lick Train Tug at which teams of six and 12 people will try to pull the locomotive by hand.

VTM is also raising money to equip the 611 with a positive train control apparatus and to build a permanent home for the locomotive in Roanoke that will also serve as an education center.

Amtrak’s policy changes have also led to the cancellation of planned trips this year by Milwaukee Road 4-8-4 No. 261 and Southern Pacific 4-8-4 No. 4449.

Chasing N&W 611 Out of Roanoke

May 31, 2017

Last weekend I went to Roanoke, Virginia, to chase the Norfolk & Western J class 611 trips. I had hoped to get some of the last remaining N&W signals but the last one was replaced just a week before these trips. Well it’s still a steam engine and there’s many great photo opportunities in this area. I’ve shared a few of them here.

This includes showing the 611 leaving Roanoke and passing the freight car shops; climbing Christianburg grade at Shawsville, Virginia; and passing the coal dock at Vicker, Virginia.

Article and Photographs by Todd Dillon

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

NS to Expand Norfolk Headquarters

March 22, 2016

As part of its plan to consolidate corporate offices in Atlanta and Norfolk, Virginia, Norfolk Southern will spend $8.2 million to expand its Norfolk offices, which will continue to be the company headquarters.

NS logo 1NS plans to add 165 employees to its Norfolk officers, many of whom are being transferred from officers in Roanoke, Virginia, that the company said last year it would close.

Employees in the railroad’s industrial products, coal marketing, sourcing, tax, treasury and audit and compliance departments are being relocated from Roanoke to Norfolk.

Roanoke remains the headquarters for the NS Pocahontas Division. Once the transfers are completed, NS will employ more than 1,350 NS in Roanoke, many of whom are operating employees and shops workers.

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.

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

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