N&W 611 Feasibility Study released

“The Fire Up 611 Committee recommends that a capital campaign be undertaken to finance the restoration of the N&W 611. The project plan incorporates the construction of an on-site shop facility, working capital to make the locomotive a successful mobile ambassador for the museum, the city of Roanoke and the Commonwealth of Virginia.”


Supporters say they need to raise at least $3.5 million to restore the engine, build a mechanical shop and develop an excursion program.

The museum hopes to have contributions and pledges lined up by the end of October, so the 611 can join the Norfolk Southern 21st Century Steam Excursion Program next year.

The report:

North Carolina Transportation Museum (NCTM) at Spencer, North Carolina was selected [as the restoration shop]. The NCTM has many advantages, including a close proximity to Roanoke, 20-stall roundhouse and several restoration bays. NCTM also provides the ability for visitors to view the restoration in progress.

Fire Up 611!

And, it’s official.


“Since her retirement, rail fans have clamored, hoped and dreamed that she return to the rails, to blow her whistle and steam over the Blue Ridge and Appalachian mountains once again.

For many of us, the 611 doesn’t rumble, she breathes.

We long to hear her breathe again. With your help, it may be possible to bring her back to life.

Click here to learn about our plan to bring the 611 back to life.”

Make a Donation

Follow @fireup611 on Twitter

There’s a long, informal back story to this effort which will probably be recounted one day, but for now just enjoy the moment.


L – R: Scott Lindsay, Preston Claytor, and Cheri George.


The Fire Up 611! Committee and VMT Executive Director Bev Fitzpatrick.

(Photos by Bob Lyndall.)

UPDATE: here’s the Trains magazine article, and the Roanoke Times article.

What will the announcement be?


The Virginia Museum of Transportation has scheduled a news conference Friday morning.

While the museum isn’t providing specifics, this could be an announcement that relates to the future of 611, Roanoke’s historic steam locomotive, and the possibility that it might one day roll under its own power again.

The news release promises information on a “strategic undertaking.” Museum leaders, representatives of the National Railway Historical Society and the Norfolk and Western Historical Society will be there.

The 611 entered service in 1950, and it returned to the rails after Norfolk Southern refurbished the engine in the early 80s.

We know there is widespread interest in seeing 611 run again. We know that Norfolk Southern has pursued its 21st century Steam Program with other locomotives. The big question mark is what it will take and how much it would cost to get 611 running again.

We don’t have confirmation from the museum. Specifics will have to wait until the news conference, but rail buffs and fans of the 611 should stay tuned for what could be an interesting announcement Friday.

Will the announcement concern N&W 611? We shall see, but this was the scene at the Museum yesterday:


Make your own deductions.

(Hat tip Steve Barry.)