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Roanoke is For Train Lovers

N&W Class J #611, C&O Class J-3a #614, N&W Class A #1218

The Virginia Museum of Transportation hosted a day of fun and excitement for all ages with “Train Lovers Saturday” last weekend. The event kicked off a rare opportunity to see three of America’s steam locomotive powerhouses as the C&O 614 joined Museum favorites N&W 611 and N&W 1218.

The opening Day for the new exhibit entitled “Thoroughbreds of Steam: N&W 611 and C&O 614, the Pinnacle of Steam Locomotive Technology,” featured the three rival passenger locomotives displayed together for the very first time. In fact, the C&O 614 has not been publicly displayed anywhere in a decade.

Both Norfolk & Western J 611 and Chesapeake & Ohio J-3a 614 were among the last steam engines to pull passenger trains in America. Both share the same 4-8-4 wheel arrangement, both represented the crowning technological achievement of their respective builders, and both are the last remaining examples of their class. The Museum’s Norfolk & Western Class J 611 was designed and built in 1950 by the N&W in its Roanoke Shops, while the C&O 614 was the last commercially manufactured 4-8-4, built by Lima (OH) Locomotive Works in 1948. The exhibit is a joint project of the Virginia’s Rail Heritage Region partners.

The Roanoke Valley Model Engineers also held an Open House featuring an HO track that kids were able to run, plus a model sale. The group’s ON3, HO, and N scale layouts are only open a few times each year, and are located in the Museum’s basement.

– Photos by Bill Turner

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