Norfolk Southern has published its schedule of 21st Century Steam excursions for 2015, some of which will feature the newly restored ex-Norfolk & Western J Class locomotive No. 611.
The Virginia Museum of Transportation, owners of the 611, are new partners this year for the Norfolk Southern steam program, which also will feature locomotives used in past years – Nickel Plate Road No 765, owned by the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society, and Southern Railway No. 4501, owned by the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum.
The steam season will kick off with the 611, which will participate in a homecoming celebration on May 30th, whereby the locomotive will make its return under its own power from the North Carolina Transportation Museum in Spencer, NC, to its home in Roanoke, VA.
Beginning on May 23, NCTM will host the “611 Send-Off Celebration” with cake, a chance to see inside the locomotive cab, and opportunities to watch it move on and off the turntable. A limited number of lucky people — 10 — will be able to purchase 30 minutes of throttle time on the locomotive at a cost of $611 per slot on a first-come, first-served basis. These will be sold online at 9 a.m. on April 21. To order, go to www.nctrans.org/Events/J611-Debut-Appearance-5-23.aspx.
The list of scheduled 21st Century Steam excursions include trips that have been planned by Norfolk Southern for this year. These are only planned excursions and do not include ferry moves for the locomotives, which in the past have been under their own steam power. Schedules for those moves are generally unannounced and generally work around business needs.
Tickets and schedule details will be available on the websites of trip sponsors.
Weekend of June 6th: 611 will be operating between Manassas and Riverton Junction, VA.
Weekend of June 13th: 611 will be operating between Lynchburg and Petersburg, VA.
June 26: 4501 will operate the “Radford Rambler” from Bristol to Radford, Va.
June 27th: 4501 will be operating between Bristol, VA and Bull’s Gap, TN.
June 28th: 4501 will be operating between Bristol and Radford, VA.
Weekend of July 4th: 611 will be operating Roanoke to Lynchburg and Walton, VA.
Weekend of July 18th: 765 will be operating between Fort Wayne and Lafayette, IN.
Weekend of July 25th: 765 will be operating between Youngstown and Ashtabula, OH.
Weekend of August 15th: 765 will be operating between Scranton, PA and Binghamton, NY.
Weekend of August 22: 765 will be operating between Buffalo and Corning, NY.
Weekend of August 23: 765 will be operating between Allentown and Pittston, PA.
Weekend of September 12th: 765 will be operating between Scranton and Nicholson, PA. There will be two round trips per day at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. in conjunction with TVRM’s “Railfest.” Trains will depart from TVRM’s Grand Junction Station and will travel to Cleveland through Ooltewah, using NS’ Knoxville route. At Cleveland the train will wye for the return to Grand Junction.
Weekend of September 26-27: 4501 will ply the former Central of Georgia Railway as it pulls the “Nancy Hanks Special” named for the CofG passenger train from Macon to Tennille, Ga. No. 4501 will travel over the Savannah District of NS’ Georgia Division on a 112-mile round trip. The train will make two round trips per day at 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. Departure will be from the Macon Terminal Station now owned by the Macon Transit Authority.
Weekend of October 3rd: 4501 will be operating between Macon and Tennille, GA. along with diesel power the Piedmont Limited on the former Southern Railway Piedmont Division main line from Atlanta to Toccoa, Ga., a 180-mile round trip. Passengers can detrain in Toccoa at the Amtrak platform for a two-hour layover for lunch, shopping, or a visit to the Currahee Military Museum housed in the Toccoa station. The Currahee Military Weekend will be in full swing, honoring paratroopers who trained at Camp Toccoa.
Weekend of October 10th: 4501 will be operating between Atlanta and Toccoa, GA. While the highlight for many will be the return of the 611, there are also some noteworthy trips for those in the northeast, as 765 will be spending much of late summer in Pennsylvania and upstate New York. We may get to see steam once again at Steamtown as it powers excursions out of Scranton. (Just imagine that, actual steam again at Steamtown!) The trips over the weekend of September 12th will mark the 100th anniversary of the Tunkhannock Viaduct, at the time the largest concrete structure in the world.
For more information on these excursions, you can view the press release on Norfolk Southern’s website.
For tickets and more information, go to www.tvrail.com/pages/21st-Century-Steam.
- 611 steam locomotive expected to return May 30th (wdbj7.com)