Posts Tagged ‘Virginia Museum of Transportation’

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 Steam Locomotive to Return to St. Louis

May 20, 2020

A former Norfolk & Western Y6a steam locomotive that has spent the past five years in Virginia will return to St. Louis.

Engine No. 2156 is being prepared for shipment to the National Transportation of Museum in Missouri after being loaded to the Virginia Museum of Transportation since 2015.

Officials say there is no timeline for the locomotive’s return and the St. Louis museum is closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The St. Louis museum loaned the 2156 to the Virginia museum in May 2015 in exchange for the Virginia museum’s EMD FTB demonstrator diesel.

The N&W steamer was pulled dead in tow by Norfolk Southern to Roanoke, Virginia, arriving about the time that N&W Class J No. 611 returned to operation.

No. 2156 was built in Roanoke in 1942 and is one of only two N&W 2-8-8-2s that survive.

The Virginia museum sought to purchase the 2156 but its offer, which included some exchange of equipment, wasn’t accepted by the St. Louis museum.

Virginia museum board member Will Harris told Trains magazine that he hopes a exchange and/or purchase can be worked out in the future.

When the 2156 is returned to St. Louis, the FTB diesel will be moved back to Virginia.

Youngstown Group to Benefit from HO Model Sales

October 5, 2018

The Youngstown Steel Heritage Foundation will benefit from a plan by Athearn Trains and two hobby shops to donate to the group part of the proceeds of the sale of an HO scale SDP45 locomotive.

The donations will be used to help the Youngstown group preserve an Erie Lackawanna SDP45 that it is acquiring from the Virginia Museum of Transportation. The ex-EL unit is now wearing a Conrail livery.

Athearn, the Maine Model Works of Yarmouth, Maine, and Hobby Express in Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania, will make a donation for every scale model of EL No. 3639 or Conrail No. 6670 that they sell.

The Youngstown group has raised more than $10,000 toward its $20,000 goal to purchase the locomotive.

It also has purchased new doors and windows for the locomotive, which it plans to move to the Marter Yard Railroad Museum operated by the Mahoning Valley Railroad Heritage Association, in Youngstown.

EMD built No. 3639 in 1969 and it is one of two six-axle EL EMD units that have been preserved. The other is No. 3607 at the National Museum of Transportation near St. Louis.

B&O Dome Car to Raise Money for N&W 611

April 20, 2018

A former Baltimore & Ohio dome car will be used to raise money for Norfolk & Western Class J No. 611.

The Virginia Museum of Transportation said that Moonlight Dome will operate on a series of Amtrak trains beginning April 28 and 29, including the Capitol Limited, which uses a former B&O route between Washington and Pittsburgh.

“These trips allow us to entertain our supporters and offer an excursion during the off-season while 611 is receiving maintenance,” said VMT Excursion Director Adam Auxier. “The return of Amtrak to Roanoke [Virginia] has been a huge blessing and the Moonlight Dome offers a spectacular way to experience the scenery.”

Passengers riding in the dome car will receive meal and beverage service.

Further information and ticket information is available at

Moonlight Dome was built in 1948 for the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway for its stillborn Chessie premium passenger train.

The dome now owned by The Cincinnati Railway, which has renovated the car and given it new paint, fabrics, and other materials. The operating schedule for Moonlight Dome is:

• April 28-29, Washington, to Williamsburg, Virginia, with a long layover in Williamsburg.

• May 4-6, Washington to Savannah, Georgia.

• May 10-13, Washington to Roanoke/Roanoke to Washington.

• May 13, Washington to Pittsburgh.

Va. Museum Still Awaiting Amtrak Response on 611 Trips

April 17, 2018

Amtrak hasn’t said “yes” but hasn’t said “no” either to a proposal by the Virginia Museum of Transportation to operate excursion trains this fall pulled by Norfolk & Western Class J No. 611.

Nonetheless officials at the Roanoke-based museum understand that a change in Amtrak corporate policy regarding charters and specials may doom the trips and knock out future excursions so long as the policy remains in place.

Lisa Sphar, the museum’s executive director, said Amtrak has yet to answer the museum’s request for excursions that are being planning for later this year.

The museum had just submitted its request to Amtrak when a memorandum written to Amtrak employees by CEO Richard Anderson in late March about the policy change came to public attention.

In the memo, Anderson said the carrier was ending specials and charters except in certain circumstances in which they would promote Amtrak strategic initiatives.

“When this announcement came out, we were in the 11th hour,” Sphar said. “It took us by surprise as well as everybody else.”

However, she said the policy does allow for exceptions and the museum continues “to work with our friends and partners in the industry to look at options for continuing operations and remain hopeful for 611’s future.”

No. 611 is currently at the North Carolina Transportation Museum in Spencer, North Carolina, undergoing routine maintenance.

The Virginia museum raised $1 million to get the 611 back into operation in 2015 after it had been idle for several years.

It has since pulled excursions on Norfolk Southern tracks in Virginia and North Carolina and last year museum officials talked about taking the steam locomotive built in Roanoke in 1950 to other states.

Amtrak cooperation figured prominently in those plans because Norfolk Southern said that starting in 2018 excursions behind the 611 would have to be arranged through Amtrak.

Although museum officials said discussions with Amtrak were cordial, there was nothing said that foreshadowed a significant change in Amtrak policy.

Catherine Fox, vice president of public affairs and destination development for regional tourism bureau Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge, said a study commissioned by the museum found 611’s 2015 excursions brought about 200,000 visitors to the valley and contributed from $4.5 million to $7 million to the economy.

Tax records show that the excursions increased revenue from $447,663 in 2013-2014 to $566,208 in excursion revenue alone for the museum in the following year.  In 2015-16, excursion revenue rose to $2 million.

N&W 611 May Expand its Excursion Range

May 27, 2017

Norfolk & Western 4-8-4 No. 611 might be pulling excursions outside of Virginia and North Carolina if the Virginia Museum of Transportation has its way.

“We cannot sustain excursions in the North Carolina, Virginia area after the exposure we’ve already had,” said museum Executive Director Beverly T. Fitzpatrick Jr.

Fitzpatrick said the market for tickets for trips in those two states is about played out.

“There are just [not] a lot of people that are going to ride anymore that haven’t already ridden,” Fitzpatrick said. “So we are now talking to Amtrak about broadening that base to see if we can go a lot of other places.”

He said it is uncertain what opportunities there might be to operate the J Class locomotive in excursion service elsewhere.

“Everything is not known at the moment but it’s exciting because nobody is saying no. Everybody wants to talk about the opportunities,” Fitzpatrick said.

N&W 611 Trip Changed for May 29

May 22, 2017

The Virginia Museum of Transportation has changed the operating schedule for excursions on May 29 behind Norfolk & Western J-Class No. 611.

The trip between Roanoke and Lynchburg, Virginia, has been canceled in favor of a trip between Roanoke and Walton, Virginia, via Radford.

The new trip will depart Roanoke at 7 a.m. and return at about 12:30 p.m. It will be the first time that a 611-pulled excursion has departed Roanoke westbound in the morning.

Other scheduled excursions will operate as announced.

This includes excursions between Roanoke and Radford on May 27, 28 and 29, all of which have 1 p.m. departure times.

There will be Roanoke-Lynchburg trips on May 27 and May 28, leaving at 7 a.m. and returning at 12:30 p.m.

All excursions will use Norfolk Southern routes that were originally owned by the N&W.

VTM Has Sold 28% of N&W 611 Trip Tickets

January 18, 2017

Ticket sales for steam excursions next spring sponsored by the Virginia Museum of Transportation have been good thus far.

Fire up 611The museum told Trains magazine that it has sold about 3,000 tickets for excursions to be pulled by Norfolk & Western J-class No. 611. That is 28 percent of the tickets available.

The North Carolina Transportation Museum is sponsoring trips of its own in early April whereas the VTM trips are set for late May.

VTM told the magazine that tickets are still available for most excursions with the strongest sales thus far having been for the May 27 roundtrip between Roanoke and Walton, Virginia.

Ticket sales for the NCTM trips have been slower because those tickets were recently placed on sale.  Thus far 350 tickets have been sold for that museum’s two trips.

Thus far, the two museums have announced 13 excursions for the 2017 season.

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

N&W 611 To Pull Excursions in Spring 2017

December 22, 2016

Steam will return to Norfolk Southern rails in 2017. The Virginia Museum of Transportation said its Norfolk & Western Class J 4-8-4 No. 611 will pull excursions in Virginia and North Carolina in April and May with additional trips possible.

Fire up 611Tickets will go on sale in January for the excursions that will include:

• From Greensboro, North Carolina, to Roanoke, Virginia, via the former Southern Railway main line to Altavista, Virginia, and the former Virginian into Roanoke on April 22 to 23.

• Lynchburg, Virginia, to Petersburg, Virginia, on May 6 and 7.

• Roanoke to Lynchburg on May 27, 28, and 29 with trips up the Blue Ridge grade in the morning and up Christiansburg grade in the afternoon.

The 611 is slated to run on Jan. 6 from Roanoke to the North Carolina Transportation Museum where it will receive its annual maintenance.