Beverly “Bev” Fitzpatrick, Executive Director of the Virginia Museum of Transportation in Roanoke, spoke to a group at The Glebe on July 24, 2015 and shared Virginia transportation and rail history in a fascinating presentation regarding the 2014-15 restoration of the Class J 611, recent excursions, and the return to Roanoke and the Virginia Museum of Transportation. No. 611 was one of fourteen Class ‘J’ passenger steam locomotives built for the Norfolk & Western Railway between 1941 and 1950, and the only one in existence today. With a number of residents of The Glebe who worked for Norfolk and Western, this restoration has been of great interest to them and train enthusiasts around the world.
According to a report on WSLS Channel 10, crowds of people gathered across our area to welcome home the Norfolk & Western Class J 611 steam engine as it returned to Roanoke on Saturday, May 30, 2015.
Over the past year, the “Queen of Steam” has been at the North Carolina Transportation Museum being restored. With the dedication of many volunteers, it took months of work to replace miles of tubing inside the engine, along with thousands of other replacements and repairs.
On Saturday, May 30, the 611 traveled more than 200 miles through North Carolina and Virginia and gave thousands of onlookers a chance to see the steam engine locomotive roll through. The 611 was supposed to arrive between 2 and 4 p.m. on Saturday. However, it did not pull into the Star City until almost 5 p.m. due to some overheating issues in Lynchburg.
Crowds waited patiently for the train to come. As she came roaring into Roanoke, she was met with cheers, shouts and even tears. People traveled from across the state and as far away as Japan and Australia to see the grand return.
Click on the first and second link below for videos of the excursion and the third link is an article in the Vinton Messenger newspaper which reports interesting details of the restoration of the 611 and its recent excursions. Enjoy your trip on the rails!