A weekend with the Norfolk & Western 611 steam locomotive.
Spent the day Friday and Saturday with a couple of friends chasing Norfolk & Western 611, a J Class steam engine, as it took to the ribbons of steel
that she once called home. As this masterful piece of steel and mechanical engineering took part in Norfolk Southern's 21st Century Steam program
running public excursions between Roanoke, Radford, and Lynchburg, Virginia. Taking place over a three day period along the Christiansburg and Blue
Ridge Districts of Norfolk Southern's Virginia Division.
Out of the three videos that were shot on Friday afternoon. One of the first locations in the video shows the 611 assaulting Christiansburg Grade as
it comes into Shawville, Virginia on a dreary Friday afternoon. The next two videos were taken at Vicker, Virginia while the 611 was on its way to
Radford, Virginia to turn around. The next day, Saturday, saw a couple of more locations that were taken advantage of.
The first shot on Saturday was taken from the Blue Ridge Parkway at Bonsack, Virginia just after the morning excursion trip departed Roanoke for
Lynchburg, Virginia. A few minutes and few miles of playing catch up and pass. With the luscious green rolling hills of southwest Virginia setting the
backdrop. Our next shot is from the one lane wooden bridge over the Blue Ridge District at Lowry, Virginia as it nears its destination of Lynchburg.
With the two previous shots being out along the line between Roanoke and Lynchburg. Our next shot was a little different of sorts in how it was done.
After visiting the old freight depot in Christiansburg, Virginia. A quick decision was made to go across the street to the antique shop to ask for
permission to film from a couple of windows that were open. After chatting with the owners for a few minutes and explaining what we were doing. We
were granted permission to shoot from their building as the 611 passed the former Norfolk & Western freight depot.
After getting our shots at Christiansburg, Virginia. We were off to Pelton, Virginia to catch the 611's eastbound return to Roanoke. In what would
turn out to be the last place that we saw the 611. The old J Class steam engine from the Roanoke Shops makes another run eastbound up Christiansburg
Grade as it headed for Roanoke to end the day of excursion trains.
Climbing out of the Roanoke River Valley on a dreary Friday afternoon. The Norfolk & Western 611 is seen assaulting Christiansburg Grade as it comes
into Shawsville, Virginia.
Starting out the day on Saturday with the morning run over to Lynchburg from Roanoke. The Ol' J is seen passing through some of the lush, green
vegetation of the Blue Ridge Mountains as she rolls east along Norfolk Southern's Blue Ridge District at Lowry, Virginia.
I hear the train a comin'
It's rollin' 'round the bend...
Okay, I got that out of my system. That's really cool. What is it burning for fuel? Is it coal fired? How fast was it going? I still think that trains
look weird without a caboose. Too bad kids these days won't know what one is unless they're told.
S&F, man! That was very, very cool.
I've only ever seen red ones. I was driving the back roads of Oklahoma once and saw one in somebody's yard. I guess they'd made it into either a
camper or play house for their kids. Why did they get rid of them anyway?
a reply to: gimmefootball400
Steam engines always make me smile. Love the sound of a steam engine working up a grade, and at high speed. I wish we could relive those times again.
A bit slower life back when those engines where common here in America.
originally posted by: Skid Mark
What is it burning for fuel? Is it coal fired? How fast was it going? I still think that trains look weird without a caboose. Too bad kids these days
won't know what one is unless they're told.
S&F, man! That was very, very cool.
Referencing some Johnny Cash my man!! This is a one hundred percent coal fired beast of fire and steel. In the first clip of the video, she was down
to ten miles per hour climbing up the hill. She was allowed a maximum speed of forty five miles per hour which isn't bad considering the terrain she
was on. From what I had heard from some people down there. Norfolk Southern were testing out just exactly how many cars she could pull upgrade. I mean
she pulled Blue Ridge Grade and Christiansburg Grade at Shawsville without stalling. You ain't only one that misses the proper ass end of a train.
Gets pretty depressing having to explain to younger railfans what a caboose was and its purpose instead of having a box mounted on a coupler with a
flashing red light on it.....
As a kid I watched these baby's end the last of their runs her in Pittsburgh....they are are magnificent..
I guess I can consider myself lucky in that category as well. Before they all went in for restorations, inspections, and semi-retirement. I was
fortunate enough to see Nickel Plate Road 765 run double headers down here along the old Chesapeake & Ohio alongside Pere Marquette 1225. Got to see
C&O 614 undergo testing for American Coal Enterprises "ACE3000 Project" when I was a kid. Witnessed the last run of steam on the New River fall
foliage train when they had to get Milwaukee Road 261 to run in the 765's place.
originally posted by: Ceeker63
Love the sound of a steam engine working up a grade, and at high speed.
You would have loved being down around Roanoke this past weekend then. I got to hear the 611 climb Christiansburg Grade twice over the weekend and it
was a sight and sound to behold!
This was actually the last trip of the year for this locomotive that I know of. I haven't heard anything about a fall schedule for the 611 being
released but that could change. All the caboose was basically an office on wheels for the rear brakeman and the conductor. Most had either hot plates
or stoves, a full bathroom with a shower, a place to sit, and an office where the conductor could not only check over and prepare paperwork. They were
also equipped with radios to maintain contact with the head end crew at the front. Also helped the crews keep an eye out on a train with either bay
window or cupola seating.
Deregulation of the railroads back in the late 1970's and the early 1980's was a big part of the reason. Another reason was that the railroads were
looking to reduce the number of crewmen on board and getting rid of the caboose was the best option. Federal, Canadian, and even some states at the
time had laws that had been on the books for decades requiring cabooses on freight trains. Those laws were repealed by the late 1980's with Virginia
and Montana being the last two states to repeal such laws.
Ah, someone who knows his railroads. I was just reading about deregulation in progressive railroading or some thing or other. My boss puts them in our
break room along with the oreos :-) and how certain shippers want congress to step back in. What a disaster that would be!
When I was a kid, my dad promised if I went down a scary waterpark slide that he would take me on a ride behind 611 and 1218. Sadly, they shut down
the steam program the very next year and I had no love for 844 and 3985 from the UP. I did get to see 4449 in person and even rode behind 261. My dad
got all misty eyed, as he was former Milwaukee Road out of Chicago, as was his father before him. And on my mom's side we had 3 generations of
Milwaukee Road including her!
Coolest thing I ever got to do was work for a bit for the Chicago Terminal and run down the middle of the street. Many years before, my grandfather
had actually switched that line, back when the Lakeview branch went past Wrigley. He would tell me how the guys would stand on boxcars to catch a bit
of the game.
A colleague of my father's actually imported some rather new steam from China. If you can name that rr, kudos, you really ARE a diligent railfan!
As for me, pounding spikes and laying rail by hand doesn't lend to being much of a railfan anymore, although I do enjoy when I get to be conductor on
the little short line I work for currently. I will truly get excited if I can ever hear 1218 blow for a crossing in person, though... That shrill bark
would give me chills as a kid.
My compliments on the photos. I'd imagine it would be a bit difficult to take a bad photo of the 611!
edit on 19-7-2015 by derSteppenwolf
because: Locomotive number edit lol
I loved watching the New River Train come through here when I was a little kid. Almost every year up until 1994, we had Nickle Plate Road 765 with the
exception of 1984 and 1989 when the Seaboard System and CSX's F7s were used when the 765 went in for its mandatory inspections. Even got to see Pere
Marquette 1225 down here for double headers with the 765 back in 1991 when the National Railroad Historical Society had their yearly convention down
in Huntington. Then 1994 came along and with the 765 being out of service for inspection. With no other option available, they had the Milwaukee Road
Chapter bring the 261 down here for the two weeks. The next year, they stopped running steam through here and haven't ran a lick of steam over CSX
And to answer your question....
There are only two railroads over here that I know of that imported some steam over from China. Those would be the Iowa Interstate and RJ Corman.
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