Back in Atlanta

In 1952, when Southern sold a couple of utterly normal 2-8-0s to a Tennessee short line, no one would have thought much of it. Surely no one would have predicted that, 15 years later, Southern would buy them back for passenger work.

For about a year beginning July 1968, Southern Railway 2-8-0 no. 630 called the North Avenue roundhouse (the passenger roundhouse near Atlanta’s Terminal Station) home, departing from Terminal Station several times before it closed in 1970. It returned to Atlanta in 1976 prior to being based in Alexandria for two years.

In the fall of 1977, Donald Purdie was given the task of getting Southern Railway 2-8-0 no. 630 from Alexandria, VA, to the Southern’s steam shop in Irondale, AL. Normally 630 or 722 would have taken 5 days to make a similar move, stopping overnight in Monroe, Salisbury, Greenville, and Atlanta. But this time, running light engine at 25mph due to a crown brass running warm, 630 knocked off the 625 miles to Atlanta without a break, stopping just long enough for servicing and train crew changes.

After getting some much-deserved sleep, the steam crew left Atlanta for Irondale – 630’s last movement under steam for Southern.

Some 34 1/2 years later, in the fifth act of a long career, 630 has returned to Atlanta once more, where at least a few employees stopped to get photos of the movement entering Inman Yard. On Saturday 630 will again depart from the site of Terminal Station, this time hauling employee appreciation specials. The site has been spruced up, and a tent has been set up in the parking lot. Once more 630 will pass through East Point, where the Purdie clan lived for many years.

That’s not something I would have predicted in the fall of 1994. And on this occasion, I am delighted to have been wrong.

See you trackside.

Steam on the ‘Punkin Vine’ and the ‘Rat Hole’

In addition to the employee excursions already announced, Norfolk Southern has announced a series of ’21st Century Steam’ public excursions, and 630 will be taking the road less traveled from Salisbury to Roanoke in June:

As part of the 21st Century Steam program of Norfolk Southern and the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum, excursions are being offered in June in North Carolina and Virginia behind steam locomotive 630.

June 16-17, Spencer to Barber, N.C., and return
Host: North Carolina Transportation Museum
Train departures from museum: 9 a.m., 12:15 p.m., and 3:30 p.m. each day
Route: Norfolk Southern “S-Line” between Spencer and Barber, 24-mile round trip
Power: steam locomotive 630 only (no diesels assisting)
Equipment: air-conditioned coaches with reclining seats and large picture windows
Fare: $35 adults, $25 children ages 3-12. Children 2 and under not occupying seats do not require tickets.

June 23, Spencer to Winston-Salem, N.C., one way (bus return)
Train departs North Carolina Transportation Museum 10 a.m.
Train arrives Winston-Salem 2 p.m.
Bus arrives North Carolina Transportation Museum 3 p.m.
Route: Norfolk Southern main line from Spencer to Greensboro, and NS “K-Line” from Greensboro to Winston-Salem
Power: steam locomotive 630 with diesels assisting
Equipment: air-conditioned coaches
Fare: $80. Includes box lunch and bus return to North Carolina Transportation Museum in Spencer.

June 24, Winston-Salem, N.C., to Roanoke, Va., one way (with bus connections from Roanoke and to Winston Salem)
Train departs Winston-Salem 10 a.m.
Train arrives Roanoke 3:30 p.m.
Route: Norfolk Southern “Punkinvine” line between Winston-Salem and Roanoke
Power: steam locomotive 630 with diesels assisting
Equipment: air-conditioned coaches
Fare: $95. Includes box lunch and bus transportation. For Roanoke-originating passengers, bus will depart Roanoke 7 a.m.; for Winston-Salem-originating passengers, bus will depart Roanoke within a half hour of train’s arrival in Roanoke.

Additionally, 630 will operate Roanoke – Bristol – Knoxville on July 7 – 8, Knoxville – Harriman Jct. – Chattanooga July 16, Chattanooga – Cleveland on Sept. 1 – 2, and Chattanooga – Birmingham on Sept. 8.

NS 30th Anniversary updates and rumors

Additional detail about Norfolk Southern’s 30th Anniversary specials is beginning to trickle out, including more detail and updates indicating changes as the schedule matures. Here’s what we’ve heard in particular:

Multiple trips per day. Indications are that most operating days will feature at least two round trips per day. Details for each trip can be found in the Schedules. (If you have a Google account, do yourself a favor and add the SteamCentral calendar to your calendar.)

Additional trip destinations. It appears that, as the operating plan matures, there have been a few changes to trip destinations. Among these:

  • Williamson, WV: 765 will start each excursion day running east to the Devon area (known today as ‘Ought One’), turning on the Buchanan Branch wye. After returning to Williamson and executing its passenger stop, 765 will run west to Naugatuck, WV. (After the Sunday excursions, we understand that 765 will make a third trip to Devon to turn for its deadhead move to Conway, PA.)
  • Conway, PA: as above, 765 will start each excursion day with a trip to CP Bell near Pittsburgh, turning on the OC Bridge before returning to Conway. After the passenger stop, 765 will operate a roundtrip to CP Wood at Homewood, PA.

Horseshoe Curve. If the question “When’s 765 going to climb Horseshoe Curve?” isn’t trending in Google Search, it probably will be soon. Our Magic 8 Ball says early afternoon, August 20. (Void where prohibited. Your mileage may vary. Report any side effects to your doctor. Railfan Responsibly. Do not trespass.)

In addition to the information contained in the schedule listings, we’ll be updating this map as new information comes in:

View NS Steam movements 2012 in a larger map

Copy this map to your Google Maps and use it responsibly as you take in the sight of steam on Norfolk Southern’s 30th Anniversay employee schedules!

The Bride(s) Wore Black – to Horseshoe Curve and Williamson

(Updated with information from Trains Newswire)

Remember that little five city tour the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society announced as part of the celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Norfolk Southern merger?

Well, we’ve got some good news . . . and some bad news.

The bad news is, it looks like 765 won’t be going to Muncie or Elkhart after all.

The good news is, 765 will be going to Harrisburg, PA, Williamson, WV, and St. Louis instead.

(Yes, THAT Harrisburg. The “765 will traverse Horseshoe Curve twice this summer” Harrisburg.)

Employee appreciation steam excursions! (Information in italics is our addition.)


Norfolk Southern employees soon will enjoy opportunities to ride
behind steam-powered excursion trains.

NS’ “Employee Appreciation Excursions” will be operated on weekends
this summer and fall in recognition of the corporation’s 30th
anniversary. Each of the railroad’s 11 divisions will host several

The tentative schedule is:

June 2-3, Georgia Division (630, Inman yard, GA – Austell, GA)
June 9-10, Piedmont Division (630, Salisbury, NC – Barber Junction, NC)
June 30-July 1, Virginia Division (630, Roanoke, VA – Walton, VA)
July 14-15, Central Division (630, Knoxville, TN – Coster Yard area)
July 21-22, Lake Division (765, Bellevue, OH – Bucyrus, OH)
July 28-29, Dearborn Division (765, Toledo, OH Homestead yard – Airline yard)
Aug. 4-5, Pocahontas Division (765, Williamson, WV – Naugatuck, WV)
Aug. 11-12, Pittsburgh Division (765, Conway, PA – Homewood, PA)
Aug. 18-19, Harrisburg Division (765, Enola yard, PA – CP Capitol, Harrisburg, PA)
Sept. 8-9, Illinois Division (765, St. Louis, MO Luther yard – Robertson, MO)
Sept. 15-16, Alabama Division (630, Irondale, AL – Birmingham (14th St.), AL)

The Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum and the Fort Wayne Historical
Society are providing the steam locomotives, equipment, and services
to make these excursions memorable, fun, and of course, safe.

Southern Railway 630 will be used for the trips on the southern part
of the system. No. 630 was built in 1904 by the American Locomotive
Company at Richmond, Va., and is one of the three locomotives that
will be used in NS’ 21st Century Steam program over the next four

(See also the FWRHS blog.)

The last steam over Horseshoe Curve was rather inauspicious – a downhill, towed-by-diesels deadhead of Reading 2102 on its way to the Blue Mountain & Reading in 1985. The last operating steam was 2102 and Grand Trunk 4070 in 1977. 765’s stablemate 759 made a pair of trips between Harrisburg and Gallitzin in September, 1970.

Before it tackles Horseshoe Curve, 765 will return to a familiar route (the former N&W between Columbus, OH and Portsmouth), then traverse the Tug Fork extension to Williamson, WV.

Since these are employee trips and deadheads, detailed schedules may not be available, but we’ll post any schedule information made public by NS, FWRHS or TVRM in the Schedules. According to Rich Melvin, NS 8100 (the NKP heritage unit), will be in the consist on deadhead moves, but we understand that weekend excursions will be steam only.

Congratulations to Norfolk Southern, the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society, and TVRM. This is 765’s biggest year since 1993, and it’s a smart move by Norfolk Southern to take advantage of a true “Heritage locomotive.” We sincerely hope the partnership prospers.

Southern Railway 630 – crowd-sourced map

[b]Update:[/b] the map is still available, but no longer editable.

Are you planning to photograph Southern Railway 630 in Tennessee during November? Do you have Google Maps on your mobile phone?

Then let’s try an experiment. I’ve created a collaborative map that you can access from your computer, or from Google Maps Mobile.

If you’re logged into your Google account, you’ll see an option to “Save to My Places.” Once you’ve saved it, the map will be available in the “My Places” layer of your Google account, and in the “My Maps” layer of Google Maps Mobile.

Select a point to see a link to a photo. If there’s no photo link, use Street View to explore the area. If you would like to add to the map, help out other photographers by adding new points from your computer, or adding information to existing points. (You will need to be logged into your Google account to edit the map.)

If you choose to edit the map, please don’t add any schedule information that hasn’t been made public by Norfolk Southern or Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum (dates, departure times, stops, etc.), and please don’t delete any points or information.

If you have an Android phone, you can get directions to a point in Google Maps Navigation. (Drive responsibly, of course.)

See you trackside!