back to top

Transportation Museum’s 1776 Locomotive Awarded Top Honors

The Norfolk and Western Locomotive 1776 pre-restoration.

The Virginia Museum of Transportation has announced that its Norfolk & Western SD45 Diesel Locomotive #1776 was awarded two important honors in the Museum’s quest to cosmetically restore the Locomotive to her original red-white-and-blue glory.

 The Museum was awarded the prestigious Trains Magazine Preservation Award at the Association of Railway Museums and Tourist Railway Association’s annual celebration in Chattanooga, Tennessee, on November 12. The grant gives the Museum $10,000 toward the preservation and cosmetic restoration of the 1776 Locomotive. Trains Magazine chose the 1776 Locomotive from 120 submissions from all over the United States.

 The 1776 Locomotive was also a People’s Choice award in the Virginia’s Top 10 Endangered Artifacts competition sponsored by the Virginia Association of Museums and the Virginia Collections Institute. In the public voting portion of the competition, almost 20,000 votes were cast for the Locomotive – the second highest in the competition. The People’s Choice award was announced on November 2 and brings with it important tools and publicity to help the Museum reach its fundraising goals.

 “We are honored to receive these two important awards,” says Beverly T. Fitzpatrick, Jr., executive director of the Virginia Museum of Transportation. “The 1776 Locomotive is an American rail icon,” says Beverly T. Fitzpatrick. “It’s a vital and beloved piece of our collection and we are excited about cosmetically restoring her to her original glory.”

 The locomotive’s last restoration occurred more than a decade ago, and the colors have since faded. The Museum originally set a goal of $10,000 to bring back the engine’s true colors by July 4, 2012. The amount needed to cosmetically restore the Locomotive was reassessed to $20,000 for superior paint and finish and to replace missing parts. The Trains Magazine Preservation Award puts the Museum within reach of this ambitious goal.

Fitzpatrick says that the Museum does not receive any state funding, so funding for restoration comes from friends of the Museum and rail fans across the country. “We have completed the cosmetic restoration of several pieces of rail stock in the past year,” Fitzpatrick says. “It’s time for the 1776 Locomotive to once again symbolize the freedom of our nation.”

 In 1974, the Norfolk & Western (N&W) SD45 diesel locomotive 1776 received its distinctive Bicentennial paint scheme in honor of the 200th Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence in 1976. From 1974 through 1978, the engine proudly pulled trains across the extensive N&W system.

 The cab of the locomotive featured an eye-catching circle of thirteen stars on a blue field representing the original thirteen colonies that declared their independence from England in 1776. Striking red and white stripes ran the length of the locomotive.

 In 1978, the engine was repainted N&W black. It wasn’t until after 1991 when Norfolk Southern Corporation donated the 1776 Locomotive to the Virginia Museum of Transportation that it was once again painted in its patriotic red, white and blue.

 The 1776 Locomotive was built in 1970 by the General Motors Electro-Motive Division, one of 115 of its type purchased by the N&W. The 1776 Locomotive was retired from service on Leap Day in February 1988.

 The Museum needs additional funds to make the 1776 Locomotive’s cosmetic restoration a reality. Friends of the 1776 Locomotive can donate funds toward the restoration by visiting and clicking on the “Save the N&W 1776” button. They can also call the Museum at 540.342.5670 or mail their contribution to the Museum at 303 Norfolk Avenue SW, Roanoke, VA 24016.  Donors of $100 or more receive an exclusive drawing of the 1776 Locomotive by Andy Fletcher, the Museum’s artist-in-residence.

Latest Articles

- Advertisement -Fox Radio CBS Sports Radio Advertisement

Latest Articles

- Advertisement -Fox Radio CBS Sports Radio Advertisement

Related Articles