The 611 steam engine. Courtesy of Virginia Museum of Transportation.

The historic Norfolk & Western Class J No. 611 steam engine owned by the Virginia Museum of Transportation in Roanoke will be rolling again this fall — in Pennsylvania.

The museum has announced a series of excursions in conjunction with the Strasburg Rail Road, the most visited heritage railroad in the continental United States..

September 30 – October 2 At-the-Throttle-Experiences
October 7 – October 9 Stationary Cab Tours
November 9 – November 10 Photo Charter directed by Pete Lerro
November 11 – November 13 Excursion Rides

For tickets and more information, please visit the Strasburg Rail Road website at

The 611, as it’s locally known, was built in Norfolk & Western’s Roanoke Shops in May 1950, the locomotive and operated in passenger revenue service from 1950-1959. Designated by the American Society of  Mechanical Engineers (ASME) as a National Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark, it is  the sole survivor of the fourteen Class J locomotives built by Norfolk & Western. Some have likened those locomotives to the Saturn V rockets of the steam engine era.

From 1982 to  1994, the locomotive was operated in excursion service and later placed on display at the  Virginia Museum of Transportation where it remained in storage until 2015 when it underwent  an extensive restoration.  Last year it went to Pennsylvania and ran several excursions.

Throughout 2022, the VMT Engine Crew and Strasburg Rail Road Mechanical Department have  worked in partnership to complete a federally required inspection of the 72-year-old steam  locomotive. These ticketed events will mark the locomotive’s first public operations following  that work.