Norfolk And Western No. 611
611 1982.jpg
611 Pulling The 1982 Independence Limited From Roanoke To Norfolk, Virgina On September 4th, Her First Public Excursion After Her First Restoration.


N&W's Roanoke Shops

Date Built

May 1950

Current Owner

Virginia Museum Of Transportation

Date Retired


Date Restored


Restored Again




Valve Gear Type


Wheel Configuration


V - E - T - D

Norfolk and Western #611 is a 4-8-4 class J steam locomotive. She has 70 inch diameter driving wheels, is capable of 80,000 pounds of tractive effort and is the only surviving example of 14 Class J's built by N&W.

History[edit | edit source]

611 was built in May 1950 by the Roanoke Shops in Roanoke, Virginia and was retired in 1959 (as one of the last steam locomotives to be retired by any US or North American Class 1 railroad). 611 has been in two derailments total. During her service with the N&W, an engineer ran her at excessive speeds while pulling the Pocahontas around a bend in the Tug River outside Cedar, West Virginia. 611 suffered only minor damage was repaired shortly and returned to service. It was restored and returned to service in 1982, operating until 1994 on its final run day of December 7, 1994. On May 18, 1986, one of the passenger cars being hauled by 611 on an employee special got caught in a switch and derailed outside Great Dismal Swamp, Virginia. 12 cars derailed, and blocked the line for a good amount of time. 611 again only took minor damage and was soon repaired. The locomotive was finally retired from excursion service one month after a major derailment (not involving 611) in a yard which heavily damaged several excursion cars. In October, 1994, the steam program was canceled. 611's last run was December 7, 1994, on the 53rd anniversary of the Pearl Harbor explosions. It was on display at the Museum of Transportation from 1995 to 2014. 611 returned to service on May 23, 2015 and made it's first test run and movement under her own power for the first time in 21 years.

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • The 611 appears in TM Books' "I Love Toy Trains" series, most notably in the second installment, as real time video shots of it were compared to an O-scale counterpart while Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 in C minor-I (known as Allegro Con Brio) played in the background and also Walt Disney's Fantasia 2000.
    • This replaced the cowboys segment in "I Love Toy Trains 2" and was reused again for "The Best of I Love Toy Trains, Parts 1, 2, and 3".
  • The 611 was the original choice the pull the American Freedom Train.
  • As of 2019, No. 611 is residing, and will visit the Strasburg Railroad in Strasburg, Pennsylvania in September and October for four weeks for a reunion with another N&W steam locomotive, No. 475.
  • The 611 was featured in a 2016 feature-length documentary called "611: American Icon" which represents the history of the locomotive and her restoration.
  • The 611 was featured in 1983 film Going Home.

See Also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

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