Excursions on the 611 locomotive scheduled for this fall

The Norfolk & Southern Class J No. 611 steam locomotive is currently stationed at the Virginia...
The Norfolk & Southern Class J No. 611 steam locomotive is currently stationed at the Virginia Museum of Transportation.(WDBJ7)
Published: Aug. 2, 2023 at 3:45 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Rail enthusiasts will once again have a chance to ride behind the popular Norfolk & Western Class J. No. 611 locomotive this fall.

The Virginia Museum of Transportation and the Virginia Scenic Railway announced Wednesday the steam passenger locomotive will host scheduled and limited excursions in October and early November.

The 611, also known as The Spirit of Roanoke, is currently stationed at the Virginia Museum of Transportation in Roanoke. The engine returned to Roanoke after a stint in Pennsylvania. It was built in Roanoke in the 1950s and is the last remaining locomotive of its kind. It’s widely regarded as among the most powerful and sophisticated passenger steam engines ever built. Today the museum is the owner and operator of the locomotive, which sometimes becomes a traveling exhibit.

Until excursions begin, the 611 will stay in Roanoke where crews will prepare it, conduct maintenance and complete its annual inspections for the Federal Railway Administration.

“We are excited for the opportunity to partner with Virginia Scenic Railway,” said Mendy Flynn, Executive Director of the VMT. “These excursions will have a major tourism impact on the region and showcase Virginia’s Rail Heritage to visitors near and far.”

The excursions will operate twice daily as the Shenandoah Valley Limited. Passengers will board the train in Goshen, travel east through the fall foliage of the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests and into the Shenandoah Valley. There, without disembarking, the train will be joined by a pair of diesel locomotives for the return trip to Goshen.

Steve Powell, President of the Virginia Scenic Railway, said in a press released Wednesday that the group was delighted to make the excursions possible.

“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,” said Powell. “This is one of the prettiest routes around, and we are excited to share it.”

Tickets will be available for purchase in mid-August via Virginia Scenic Railway’s website.

Seating options will include Coach, Premium Coach, First Class, and Dome Classes, ranging from $99.00 to $249.00 per seat.

You can sign up on VSR’s or VMT’s website to be among the first to know when tickets are available.

The Shenandoah Valley Limited will depart at 9:00 AM and 2:30 PM on the following dates:

▪ October 6 – 8

▪ October 13 – 15

▪ October 20 – 22

▪ October 27 – 2 9

▪ November 3 – 5