Last year about this time was the second weekend I chased N&W 611. The flowers in the foreground made this one of my favorite images from the trip.
As a child I watched a video tape of the National Geographic program, ‘Love Those Trains’, until I wore it out. N&W 611 was featured in the opening sequence and I always wanted to see her run in person.
Last year, my friend Kevin invited me to chase the J with him and a couple other friends. I immediately took him up on the offer and ended up chasing three of the four weekends that 611 ran in 2017.
The image above of N&W 611 charging up grade through the rain at Brown’s Summit, NC was taken about this time last year on the first of the three weekends I chased.
The engineer eases off the throttle of N&W 611 heading into a speed restriction on the uphill grade outside the town of Wabun, VA. This was the first of two trips out of Roanoke on Memorial Day 2016.
After Norfolk Southern ended its first steam program in 1994, many thought we’d never get to see the J under steam again. Fortunately miracles happen and the Virginia Museum of Transportation restored 611 to service with the help of Norfolk Southern and many other generous donors. I’m thankful to have had the opportunity to ride behind and photograph one of the finest steam locomotives ever built. Even better, I got to photograph it with some good friends. Thanks again, Kevin, Mike and Rick!
The Norfolk & Western Class “J” 611 is an incredible machine. She was designed to pull the N&W’s premiere passenger trains at speeds up to 100mph. As the only example of this class of locomotive to survive the scrapper’ torch, we’re lucky she’s operational today.
In the photo above, we see her rolling past the former N&W Freight House in Roanoke. The site is now home to the Virginia Museum of Transportation.
Last week was the third weekend I photographed her this spring. Watch for the trip Report in a couple of weeks.