Posts Tagged ‘steam locomotives’

N&W 611 In HDR

May 17, 2016

N&W 611 at Montgomery Tunnel.

N&W No. 611 upgrade on Blue Ridge at Webster,Virginia.

N&W No. 611 upgrade on Blue Ridge at Webster,Virginia.

Here are a couple more Norfolk & Western No. 611 photos from last week.

It’s not something I usually do but I applied HDR processing to some of my 611 photos. HDR or high dynamic range tone maps a photo and brings out areas that otherwise would be in shadow. It can make a photograph look almost like a painting.

These two examples turned out very well in my opinion. Enjoy.

Photographs by Todd Dillon


N&W 611 in the Spirit of O. Winston Link

May 10, 2016
Signal bridge at Webster, Virginia, ascending Blue Ridge grade.

Signal bridge at Webster, Virginia, ascending Blue Ridge grade.

Last Saturday, I went to Roanoke, Virginia, to chase the steam trips powered by Norfolk & Western J class No. 611.

With the current state of Norfolk Southern cost-cutting, these and a few more upcoming trips might be the last mainline trips 611 runs. I certainly hope that’s not the case but felt I needed to catch these runs.

The morning trip went east to Lynchburg, Virginia, over the famous Blue Ridge grade. The afternoon trip went to Radford over the Christianburg grade through Montgomery tunnel.

I have long admired the photographs taken in this area in the late 1950s near the end of steam operations. Primarily, I liked those made by O. Winston Link, but also others I’ve seen make me wish I could travel back in time to record that era.

Well these fan trips are the closest thing to a time machine. Here are some of my results converted to black and white.

Article and Photographs by Todd Dillon

The classic coal dock shot at Lowry, Virginia.

The classic coal dock shot at Lowry, Virginia.

Montgomery tunnel on the Christianburg grade.

Montgomery tunnel on the Christianburg grade.

Going away from Montgomery tunnel.

Going away from Montgomery tunnel.

At Bonsack, Virginia, descending Blue Ridge grade.

At Bonsack, Virginia, descending Blue Ridge grade.

Going away at Bonsack, Virginia.

Going away at Bonsack, Virginia.

N.C. Museum to Host N&W 611 in June

April 20, 2016

Norfolk & Western No. 611 will return to North Carolina in June for a weekend of special activities.

The J Class 4-8-4 recently ran a series of public excursions sponsored by the North Carolina Transportation Museum.

NC Transportation MuseumNo. 611 is set to return to the museum on June 17-18 and will offer such activities as throttle time, cab rides and caboose rides.

The return will be after the 611 has finished pulling excursions in Virginia for the Virginia Museum of Transportation.

The half-hour throttle time will go for $611 per person while cab rides will cost $305.50 per person. The ride in an N&W caboose will cost $10 per person.

For more information, go to

W.Va. Tourist Railroads to Swap Locomotives

March 29, 2016

Two West Virginia tourist railroads plan to swap locomotives this year.

Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Climax No. 3 is being taken to the Cass Scenic Railroad while Cass Heisler No. 6 will go to the D&GV.

Cass ScenicTrains magazine reported that No. 3 will be rebuilt to meet Federal Railroad Administration standards.

“Rather than shut down the Durbin train while No. 3 is out of service, we decided to take No. 6 up there,” said John Smith, the president of the D&GV. “By next Christmas, we hope to be able to run No. 3 back up there and bring No. 6 back to Cass on the old C&O line.”

Smith said No. 3 needs some boiler work whereas shop forces are close to finishing the FRA-mandated 1,472-day work on No. 6.

Flooding more than 20 years ago damaged portions of the former C&O Greenbrier branch between Cass and Durbin.

The D&RG has since reopened five miles of the line south from Durbin. Last year, two miles of track was rebuilt north from Cass.

“We’ll work upstream from Cass this summer,” Smith said. “There’s about nine miles to go including four good-sized washouts, and we’ll put in 8,000 ties.”

When the ARRC Used to Ride the Ohio Central

March 25, 2016

Sunrise at Dennison

The boilers are cold now. Smoke no longer billows from the stacks and steam doesn’t escape and create enormous clouds during a blow down.

The steam locomotives of Jerry Jacobson are now clustered in a roundhouse in Sugarcreek after he got out of the railroad business by selling the Ohio Central System to Genesee & Wyoming.

G&W is a massive corporation and has no need for the kind of down-home ways that Jerry’s railroad used to do business by.

Between 1991 and 2006 Jerry would allow the ARRC to use his railroad once a year in the fall, allowing the club to travel behind one of his steamers.

The last of those trips occurred on Oct. 7, 2006, and it was one of the best. It was an all-day affair featuring the 1293, a 4-6-2 that was built for Canadian Pacific.

The day began at dawn in Dennison and by the time we returned on a sun-splashed late afternoon we had enjoyed seven photo runbys at five locations.

But my favorite image of the day wasn’t made during any of those runbys.

It was made just after sunrise as the 1293 patiently waited to go to work that morning. On the other end of the train was RS18 No. 1800, which would lead the ARRC excursion train east out of town on the former Panhandle mainline of the Pennsylvania Railroad.

Those ARRC excursions on the Ohio Central are just memories now, but oh what memories they are.

Article and Photograph by Craig Sanders

NKP 765 Undergoing Maintenance Work

March 25, 2016

Boiler tube and flue replacement on Nickel Plate Road No. 765 have been keeping members of the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society busy over the winter.

Workers have replaced 202 boiler tubes and 73 flues, which society officials say will reduce future downtown for the Berkshire locomotive. The tubes and flues were last replaced in 2004.

“Historically, work of this type could remove an engine from service for several years,” said FtWHS vice president Kelly Lynch. “We want to keep up the momentum and insure the 765 inspires thousands more again in 2016.”

Fort Wayne Railroad Historical SocietyIn 2015, the 765 pulled excursion trains in Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York that hosted more than 6,000 passengers with many of the trips being sold out.

The 765 was part of the Norfolk Southern 21st Century steam program, which the railroad ended after the conclusion of the 2015 excursion season.

“We’ve been very fortunate to have that partnership with Norfolk Southern and they’ve committed to helping us deliver the 765 to new and familiar destinations this year,” Lynch said.

He noted that the society expects to announce within the coming weeks its plans for excursions for the 765 in 2016.

The Fort Wayne group has installed a concrete floor at its restoration facility on Edgerton Road in Fort Wayne.

The shop was built in 1991 and has not undergone any major improvements since then.

Society officials said having a concrete floor will enable the construction of specific work areas dedicated to railroad preservation projects and create a better work environment.

The FtWRHS is currently seeking funding to buy a forklift with an 8,000 pound capacity and a 15-foot lift.

Donations for the project can be made at

Group Says it Cast Boxpok Driver

March 10, 2016

The Pennsylvania Railroad T1 Steam Locomotive Trust said that it recently created a boxpok driver, the first in the United State in more than 70 years.

PRRThe non-profit group said that the driver is unlike a typical driving wheel in that it is hollow.

The design provides a high strength-to-weight ratio and allows the fine-tuning necessary for high-speed operations for the PRR T1 4-4-4-4 No. 5550.

To make the driver, the group said it had to obtain the original drawings from the Pennsylvania State Archives.

The boxpok driver is one of the first components that the organization plans to build.

SRI Offering Throttle Time with an 0-4-0

March 7, 2016

The Steam Railroad Institute of Owosso, Michigan, is offering a “hands on the throttle” experience on June 4 between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m.

Steam Railroading InstituteFor a $150 fee participants will operate Flagg Coal Company 0-4-0 No. 75.

The event will occur on the grounds of the SRI in Owosso and each “engineer” will have 30 minutes of throttle time.

Participants must be age 12 or older. Children ages 12 to 15 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.

Engineers must arrive at least 30 minutes ahead of their session time to check in and participate in a short job briefing.

For further information call 989-399-7589 or visit

CNJ Steam Locomotive to Pull Easter Trips

February 19, 2016

Railway Restoration Project 113 plans to offer steam-powered Eastern trains in eastern Pennsylvanian on March 19 over the Reading Blue Mountain & Northern.

PennsylvaniaThe trains will be pulled by former Central Railroad of New Jersey 0-6-0 No. 113 and will depart from the Minersville Station at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.

The route of the train will be southward through Marlin, Westwood Junction, Cressona, and Schuylkill Haven over track once owned by the Reading Company.

No. 113 was built by Alco in 1923 and is one of just two CNJ steam locomotives to survive.

The Philadelphia & Reading Coal & Iron Corporation bought the engine in 1953 and operated it at the company’s Locust Summit, Pennsylvania, coal breaker until 1960.

After several years of neglect, No. 113 was acquired by Robert E. Kimmel Sr. of Minersville.

His son Robert Jr. led a 12-year restoration project that cost about $600,000.

No. 113 is one of the few standard gauge locomotives in the United States that burns anthracite coal.

For more information about the trips visit!Easter-Trains-coming-March-19th/c12hj/569d9a9c0cf2dd2c1662236b

N&W 611 Deadheads to Spencer

February 13, 2016

Norfolk & Western 4-8-4 No. 611 made a deadhead move on Thursday to the North Carolina Transportation Museum after being released from the shop of the Virginia Transportation Museum in Roanoke, Virginia.

Fire up 611Workers had finished working on the Class-J locomotive’s lead trucks in Roanoke before sending it off to Spencer, North Carolina, for further mechanical work.

The 611 traveled with a water canteen car, two tool cars and two gondolas.

The route from Roanoke involved using the former Virginian Railway to Altavista, Virginia, and thence over former Southern Railway via Danville, Virginia.

The ferry move made stops in Hurt and Danville for crew changes and servicing.

The 2016 excursion season for the 611 will begin on April 9 with weekend trips from Spencer to Lynchburg, Virginia.


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