Virginia Scenic Railway offering excursions on the iconic 611 Engine through the Valley this Fall

Published: Sep. 12, 2023 at 4:01 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) - An iconic steam engine will be taking people on a scenic ride through the Shenandoah Valley this Fall. The Virginia Scenic Railway and Virginia Museum of Transportation announced the Norfolk and Western 611 Engine will take passengers from Goshen to Staunton several weekends this Fall.

Steve Powell, President of the Buckingham Branch Railroad, said it is an “exciting time” and that the 611 hasn’t run on a main line since 2017.

“To have it back in Virginia running through the Shenandoah Valley is an amazing sight.” Powell said.

The 611 was built in Roanoke in the 1950′s, and is the last Class J engine left in the world., The 611 is currently owned by the Virginia Museum of Transportation. Powell said the state purchased the rail line that runs from Goshen to Staunton back in 2022, and the idea to offer rail excursions to people began immediately.

“We’ve had conversations with members of the Virginia Museum of Transportation for years, and everyone wondered if this was something that was ever going to happen.” Powell said. “We were able to come up with a plan to bring the 611 out of Pennsylvania where it had been for a few years, and bring it back to Virginia.”

Mendy Flynn is the Executive Director of the Virginia Museum of Transportation in Roanoke, and she said she has enjoyed meeting people and hearing stories from people while working on the excursions.

“Working on this has been a great chance to meet people who love the 611, and it’s been great hearing their stories.” Flynn said.

The excursions take place on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays in October and early November, and go from Goshen to Staunton before returning to Goshen.

“The 611 will go over North Mountain and you can see how a steam engine handles the steep grade before coming in to Staunton.” Powell said. “Along the way there will be scenery of mountains, the changing leaves, and of the train.”

Powell said once the engine reaches Staunton there will be a brief stop while diesel engines hook up to the 611 so it can be pulled backwards to Goshen. Powell said he hopes people take in how different rail travel is, and that they will appreciate the history of the 611.

If you’d like to purchase a ticket, if available, or learn more about the excursions offered by the Virginia Scenic Railway, you can visit their website. Powell said tickets can also be bought by calling the number on their website and order tickets over the phone.