[N&W] Re: 611

nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Tue May 4 22:55:42 EDT 2004


I believe the 611 was retired in good working condition, after a final
excursion run, but is periodically moved to keep it lubricated.  I think it
was the cost of insurance for riding on active Norfolk/Southern or CSX rail
systems at traditional rail speeds in addition to the expense of upkeep that
caused Norfolk/Southern to stop the funding.  It is a static display because
no one in Virginia has figured out how to fund and put any steam trains back
in service.

Somehow - someone, some group of people, or the State - for North Carolina,
Tennessee, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York and many other states have
operating steam trains which are associated with their past.  It is a tragedy
that Virginia can't seem to do the same.  Every 611 and 1218 excursion I ever
saw was full of railroad buffs and most pulled more than 15 cars.  I believe
the 1218 was in the midst of refurbishment in Alabama when the funding
stopped and I've heard that its parts are in boxes at the Norfolk/Southern
shop in Roanoke.

What is needed in Virginia is a rail system, similar to the North Carolina
(`2 miles), Tennessee (`6 miles), and etc. Transportation Museums, which run
steam trains daily.  But they run on dedicated rail systems and not at high
speed.  Somehow they have remained in business.
                                 Jim Cothran

Going back farther in time, 611 became the surviving N&W streamlined steam
engine when the rest were scrapped around 1959 because it had been wrecked and
repaired, so had less road time since rebuild than the others.
Can someone fill in the dates of the steam excursion program?

Jeff Cornelius
Where the streamlined engines were Ks...

More details on NS's Steam Program:

As Cochairman of the Save Our Steamtrain committee, I had the opportunity to
meet with Norfolk Southern's top management (one step below Mr. Goode) on
December 7th, the same day the 611 returned to Roanoke under her own power to
be retired, to discuss in detail Norfolk Southern's decision to cancel the

During our meeting the bottom line was liability. It wasn't by causing
freights to be late which can cost NS fines under some contracts for
shipping. To some degree it was lack of management people due to their recent
buyouts etc. The decision had nothing to do with the cost of maintaining the
locomotive - the 611 needed $37,000 in flu work to be put back in service. As
far as return on investment, the last year turned around 20% which was the
highest return per dollar on the NS.

As I said in the above paragraph, the bottom line was liability. If they
turned a passenger carload of school children over in an accident there
wouldn't be enough money in all the banks to cover the lawsuits in today's
litigation hungry environment.

The derailment in Kinney Yard in Lynchburg, VA during the last season was the
light that showed just how lucky NS had been in the past. The excursion train
was struck by another freight train while shifting in the middle of the night
resulting in nearly half the train being derailed and destroying Roanoke
Chapter, NRHS's coach No. 1829.


Richard D. Shell
Roanoke Chapter, NRHS

That Eng 611 was ever reactivated can be traced to one man: Robert B. Claytor.

When N&W 611 first ran excursions,  my understanding was that it was for a
period of one year.  As I recall, it lasted for fourteen.  Many a trainmaster,
master mechanic,  conductor, steam-qualified engineer, and general foreman
sacrificed  a week end to give the "kids" an opportunity to ride.  Did they
get paid for it ?  Some did; some didn't.  That might very well be why the NS
employees were glad to see 611 returned to the Transportation Museum.
Rather than make "digs" at Norfolk Southern, maybe we  should be thanking
them that steam was around for those 14 years.

Then again, maybe I'm prejudiced.  Had it not been for one man, Robert B.
Claytor, I guess I'd never been able to have worked for N&W and retired from

                                                        Harry Bundy

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