Last runs of J-611

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at
Tue Nov 19 21:57:00 EST 2013

That's some inspired writing!  I wasn't there for 611's last trips.  In fact, it took me several years before I could even watch the videos.  I finally saw one of them at Sam Putney's Roanoke Rails shop.  Toughest vid I ever had to get through.

Dave Stephenson

From: NW Mailing List <nw-mailing-list at>
To: nw-mailing-list at
Sent: Tuesday, November 19, 2013 12:22 PM
Subject: Last runs of J-611

I flew down to Birmingham, Alabama to be on the last public excursion behind this mechanical monster on Saturday, December 3, 1994. We went to Chattanooga and back that day. Stayed up in the sound/recording car just a couple behind the engine most of the way back, recording mentally only, as I knew my opportunity for such an adventure might not occur again in my lifetime. I can still hear that whistle, as I did all the way back to Birmingham that day. Said Hi to Jim Bistline, and many others that day on board and greeted the engine crew with a hearty but soaking wet "thanks" when we returned that night to Birmingham; around midnight.

The cloudburst and thunder -- were they a sign from the heavens above of the Almighty's disapproval of what was being done? You decide -- The words on the side of cab that day might indicate such - "Forgive them for they know not what they do."

Four days later I chased and even caught it occasionally on film, the sad little train as it crossed the bridge at Alta Vista, Va, hearing its beautiful, melodious chime whistle for several minutes as it approached and headed north to home and retirement in Roanoke. I watched as the TV news crew boarded into the cab at Kinney and as they whistled off and the signals changed heading west, the race across Blue Ridge was on. Saw it chased it and watched it as a few others also did that day 19 years ago.

The sad train approached slowly in its death march to the Roundhouse and getting stuffed and mounted like an extinct zoo animal. I followed it part of the way between the station and the RH -- I didn't need to see the end of its last breath of life. That was December 7, 1994.

Now 19 years later will it be revived and ressussitated (sic) from the expired, much like Jurassic Park's extinct species? But will the current attempts and plans be successful in this case? We have the proper DNA sequence to effect the necessary deeds and the entire world will be safe in this case at least. Do I wax a bit nostalgic here with memories; you betcha.

Save the Queen, God save the Queen; hear hear.

One who remembers and has not forgotten.

Bob Cohen

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