Scenic USA - Virginia

Virginia Transportation Museum

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Norfolk and Western 611 - Virginia Transportation Museum, Roanoke, VA

Photos by Ben Prepelka
Scenic USA Artist Website

     The Virginia Museum of Transportation, featuring all modes of transportation, first opened its doors in 1963. Virginia Transportation Museum - Roanoke, VA Twenty years later, the establishment became the official transportation museum of the state. Unfortunately, floodwaters in 1985 left behind 1.4 million dollars in damage. Norfolk Southern quickly came to the rescue, donating the vintage N&W freight station. Utilizing this generous offer, the museum moved into the 1918 Norfolk and Western Railway Depot located in downtown Roanoke. The 45,000 square foot museum now features over 2500 items. Exhibits include planes, automobiles, buses, trucks and more than 50 full size pieces of railroad rolling stock. Steam Locomotive 1218 - VTM
     Pictured here is the museum's rare Norfolk and Western #611, the lone survivor of 14 J-Class steam locomotives. These streamlined beauties were some of the most powerful 4-8-4 locomotives ever produced. With its 70 inch drive wheels, advanced roller bearing design and precise counterbalancing, this locomotive easily achieved speeds over 100 miles per hour. Jokingly, it was said the speed was only limited by the engineer's nerves.
     The Norfolk and Western #611 sat idle for 20 years after its retirement in 1959, only to thrill rail fans once again in September 1982. Under Norfolk Southern's Steam Program, the #611 offered summer passengers a historic train ride for 12 years. Studebaker - VTM Its last run, before being placed in the Virginia Museum of Transportation, was completed from Birmingham to Roanoke on December 10th in 1994.
     Rumors have surfaced that the Norfolk Southern's Steam Program would run again. The 21st Century Steam Program features classic coal-powered steam locomotives. This news gave hope that Roanoke's beloved Norfolk and Western #611 locomotive may one day take to the rails again. Seeking donations for costs associated with restoration and a dedicated maintenance shop, the #611 arrived in Spencer, North Carolina on May 24th, 2014. Restoration work, aided by Age of Steam Roundhouse volunteers, began in June with the hopes that #611 will be ready in soon.

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