Wednesday, August 8, 2023
August 2, 2023 — The Virginia Museum of Transportation, Inc. (VMT) and the Virginia Scenic Railway (VSR) are excited to jointly announce that the Norfolk & Western Class J No. 611 steam passenger locomotive will be operating a series of specially scheduled passenger excursions later this fall within the Commonwealth of Virginia.
The sleek and powerful Class J locomotives, designed and built in Roanoke by the Norfolk & Western Railway, were widely hailed as the finest steam passenger locomotives in the world. The 1950 Norfolk & Western Class J No. 611 is the sole surviving member of fourteen Class J locomotives produced and is owned and operated by VMT as a traveling exhibit, showcasing the legacy and craftmanship of Virginia’s railroad workers.
The 611 will remain in Roanoke for preparation and maintenance and its annual Federal Railway Administration inspections. Following that work, public excursions behind 611 on the VSR track will begin.
The VSR is delighted to host these 611 excursions, which will be operating twice daily as the Shenandoah Valley Limited throughout October and November 2023. Upon boarding the train in Goshen, Virginia, guests will travel eastward through the fall foliage of the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests, into the rolling hills of the Shenandoah Valley where the train will pause without disembarking, to be joined by a pair of diesel locomotives for the return trip back to Goshen.
We are delighted to help make this run possible,” says Steve Powell, President of the Virginia Scenic Railway. “We love trains and railroad history, and we look forward to partnering with the Virginia Museum of Transportation to host the legendary 611 and bring the steam engine roaring to life in the Shenandoah Valley. This is one of the prettiest routes around, and we are excited to share it.”
Tickets will be available for purchase by the general public in mid-August via Virginia Scenic Railway’s website (virginiascenicrailway.com). Seating options will include Coach, Premium Coach, First Class, and Dome Classes, ranging from $99.00 to $249.00 per seat. Sign up on VSR’s or VMT’s (vmt.org) website to be among the first to know when tickets are available.
“We are excited for the opportunity to partner with Virginia Scenic Railway. These excursions will have a major tourism impact on the region and showcase Virginia’s Rail Heritage to visitors near and far.” said Mendy Flynn, Executive Director of the Virginia Museum of Transportation.
The Shenandoah Valley Limited will depart at 9:00 AM and 2:30 PM on the following dates:
For more information about the Shenandoah Valley Limited, please contact Mendy Flynn or Steve Powell.
About the Norfolk & Western Class J No. 611
The Norfolk & Western Class J No. 611 is owned and operated by the Virginia Museum of Transportation, Inc. Built in Norfolk & Western’s Roanoke Shops on May 29, 1950, the locomotive operated in passenger revenue service from 1950-1959. Designated by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) as a National Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark, it is the sole survivor of the fourteen Class J locomotives built by Norfolk & Western. From 1982 to 1994, the locomotive was operated in excursion service and later placed on display at the Virginia Museum of Transportation where it remained in storage until 2015 when it underwent an extensive restoration. Following the restoration, VMT has continued to operate 611 as a traveling exhibit.
About the Virginia Museum of Transportation
The Virginia Museum of Transportation, Inc. is the Commonwealth of Virginia’s official transportation museum. It houses the largest collection of locomotives in the Mid-Atlantic region including the famed N&W Class J 611 and the N&W Class A 1218. It’s also home to model trains, a complete automotive gallery with vehicles from the 1900’s to present, and aviation exhibits including a Jupiter Rocket.
About the Virginia Scenic Railway
Operated by the Buckingham Branch Railroad (the largest short-line railroad in Virginia with four divisions and 280 miles of track), the Virginia Scenic Railway offers the state’s only regularly scheduled sightseeing excursion service.
Aboard the Virginia Scenic Railway, you’ll get a front-row seat to some of Virginia’s prettiest views, including the legendary Shenandoah Valley and the Blue Ridge Mountains. Depending on the excursion you choose, you’ll roar through tunnels, speed over bridges, race past scenic fields and forests, and climb over mountains.