museums announce class j 611 2016 schedule
Top News

Museums announce Class J 611 2016 Schedule

newspaperThe Virginia Museum of Transportation and the North Carolina Transportation Museum announced in partnership that the Norfolk & Western Class J 611 steam passenger locomotive will return to the mainline in 2016 with an exciting schedule of public excursions and special appearances.

The sleek and powerful Class J steam passenger locomotives, designed and built in Roanoke, Va., by the Norfolk & Western Railway, widely were hailed as the finest steam passenger locomotives in the world. Today, the 611 is the only Class J still in existence and is owned by the VMT. It was restored at the NCTM in 2014-2015 through a worldwide fundraising effort by the VMT. “A ride behind the 611 is a bucket list dream come true for everyone who remembers the golden age of steam, or who has been lucky enough to learn her story,” said Beverly T. Fitzpatrick, Jr., VMT executive director. “611 is the star of the Museum’s collection and a traveling ambassador for the remarkable rail heritage of Norfolk Southern.”

The 611 will move from Roanoke to the North Carolina Transportation Museum in February in preparation for maintenance and its annual Federal Railway Administration inspection. Following that work, spring will see a total of four weekends of public excursions behind 611 on the Norfolk Southern system. A variety of seating options, including coach, first class, and dome cars is planned for each excursion. In addition, special appearances by 611 are planned for Roanoke, Manassas and Danville, Va., and Spencer, N.C.



The first two trips will be hosted by the North Carolina Transportation Museum. On Saturday, April 9, 611 will run from Spencer, N.C. to Lynchburg, Va., and return.  On Sunday, April 10, it will travel from Spencer, N.C., to Asheville, N.C., and back via the famous “Loops.”

Following the NCTM excursions, the remaining three excursion weekends will be hosted by the Virginia Museum of Transportation.

On April 23 and 24, full-day trips will depart Greensboro, N.C., to Roanoke, Va., and return to Greensboro.

611 will return to Roanoke to lead half-day excursions on May 7 and 8. Morning excursions will run from Roanoke to Lynchburg and back via the Blue Ridge grade. Afternoon trips will run from Roanoke to Walton and return via the Christiansburg grade. The morning and afternoon trips are separate excursions.

On June 4 and 5, 611 will pull a total of three trips from Manassas, Va., to Front Royal, Va., and return: One roundtrip on the morning of Saturday June 4 and two roundtrips on Sunday, June 5, as part of the 22nd Annual Manassas Heritage Railway Festival.


2016 Public Excursion Schedule

  • April 9, 2016The Virginian, Spencer, N.C., to Lynchburg, Va.
  • April 10, 2016The Blue Ridge Special, Spencer, N.C., to Asheville, N.C.
  • April 23, 2016The Roanoker, Greensboro, N.C. to Roanoke, Va.
  • April 24, 2016– The Roanoker, Greensboro, N.C. to Roanoke, Va.
  • May 7, 2016The Powhatan Arrow, Roanoke, Va., to Lynchburg, Va.
  • May 7, 2016The Pelican, Roanoke, Va., to Walton (Radford), Va.
  • May 8, 2016The Powhatan Arrow, Roanoke, Va., to Lynchburg, Va.
  • May 8, 2016The Pelican, Roanoke, Va., to Walton (Radford), Va.
  • June 4, 2016 – The American, Manassas, Va., to Front Royal, Va., (runs once)
  • June 5, 2016The American, Manassas, Va., to Front Royal, Va., (runs twice)

Ticket sale dates will be announced in February. For excursion information and to sign up for email notifications, visit



In addition to opportunities to ride and watch 611 roll by on excursions, the public is invited to take advantage of a number of special opportunities to get up close to 611 under steam, take photos, and meet the crew.

“We are very excited to offer this experience that people haven’t had before, to get really close to 611,” said Jim Stump, Forward 611 committee chair for the VMT. “We will be taking 611 to new destinations and giving communities an exciting opportunity to celebrate their history and rail heritage. It is amazing to experience this engine fired up.”

  • Over the weekend of May 14, 2016 – visitors to the Virginia Museum of Transportation will get to view 611 fired up, and meet the crew.
  • June 4, 2016 –  After the morning excursion, 611 will make a guest appearance at the Manassas, Va., Heritage Railway Festival.
  • June, 2016 – 611 will be on display at the VMT.
  • July, 2016 – 611 will be featured at the North Carolina Transportation Museum for special events.
  • Early August, 2016 – 611 will return to the VMT.
  • Early September, 2016 – 611 again will return to the NCTM for special events and maintenance.
  • Sept. 24-25, 2016 – 611 will travel to Danville, Va., to be featured during Danville Rail Heritage Days.
  • 611 will return to Roanoke after the NCTM events conclude in the fall.

The events at the NCTM and the City of Danville involve only the locomotive and its crew. No excursions to Danville or to Spencer (NCTM) are offered.  For event information and to sign up for email notifications, visit

“We are so grateful to Norfolk Southern Corporation for allowing the Class J 611 to run during 2016,” said Fitzpatrick. “We are also thankful to many partners including the North Carolina Transportation Museum, the Roanoke Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society, the Norfolk & Western Historical Society, and the many donors who are helping us bring back the wonder for 611’s passengers and fans of all ages.”


About Norfolk Southern Corporation

Norfolk Southern Corporation (NYSE: NSC) is one of the nation’s premier transportation companies. Its Norfolk Southern Railway Company subsidiary operates approximately 20,000 route miles in 22 states and the District of Columbia, serves every major container port in the eastern United States, and provides efficient connections to other rail carriers. Norfolk Southern operates the most extensive intermodal network in the East and is a major transporter of coal, automotive, and industrial products.


About the Virginia Museum of Transportation

The Virginia Museum of Transportation is home to the famed Norfolk & Western “Big Three” steam locomotives. The N&W Class J 611 and the N&W Class A 1218 are the stars of the Museum’s collection while the N&W Class Y6a 2156 is on loan from the Museum of Transportation in St. Louis, Mo. The Museum is the Official Transportation Museum of the Commonwealth of Virginia, but receives no state funding. The Museum is located in the historic N&W Freight Station at 303 Norfolk Avenue SW, Roanoke, Va., 24016. OpenMondaySaturday 10-5 and Sunday 1-5. and


About the North Carolina Transportation Museum 

The N.C. Transportation Museum, located in historic Spencer Shops, the former Southern Railway repair facility is located just five minutes off I-85 at Exit 79 in Spencer, N.C., and about an hour from Charlotte, Greensboro or Winston-Salem. 411 S. Salisbury Ave, Spencer, N.C. 28159.  704/636.2889.

News Desk

Have a story idea or a news tip? Email editor Chris Graham at [email protected] Subscribe to AFP podcasts on Apple PodcastsSpotifyPandora and YouTube.