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THE “J” IS BACK AND BETTER THAN EVER Fired Up 611! BY CHASE GUNNOE/PHOTOS AS NOTED T


HE NORTH CAROLINA Transporta- tion Museum in Spencer hosted a full-day photo charter on May 28


featuring Norfolk & Western J-Class No. 611. This would mark the first time the public would see this iconic streamlined locomotive under steam since her fires were dropped in 1994. The event was made possible thanks


to the cooperation of Trains editor Jim Wrinn, Norfolk Southern, and Fire Up 611! officials, and included unique op- portunities for patrons to catch the re- stored 4-8-4 pulling an authentic freight consist as well as a matched set of Tus- can red passenger train at carefully planned runby locations. More than 150 people registered for the charter. The event began at 8:00 a.m. with scenes at NCTM’s Bob Julian Round-


52 JULY 2015 • RAILFAN.COM


house, where photographers captured the locomotive from many different per- spectives. During peak morning sun, a series of runbys took place at the north end of the museum, featuring the rail- road’s cosmetically restored Southern Railway signal bridge and nearby rail grade crossing, where antique cars and the museum’s Railway Express Agen- cy truck were included to enhance the scene. The morning activities were fol- lowed with an afternoon barbecue lun- cheon and guest speaker presentations. Photo runbys resumed in the after-


noon as sun angles favored the south end of the museum. Organizers placed NCTM’s Atlantic Coast Line E3 No. 501 and Southern FP7 No. 6133 alongside No. 611 for unique side-by-side photo opportunities. The 501 had been tempo-


rarily re-stenciled “NORFOLK & WESTERN” to recreate a brief period when the N&W leased a handful of ACL E3s in the late 1950s. The same equipment was also used for a special night photo session. On May 30 No. 611 made its histor-


ic homecoming to Roanoke, Va., under steam. The mainline move followed the ex-Southern Railway Danville District from Spencer north to Lynchburg, Va., before switching over to the ex-N&W Blue Ridge District for the ascent over Blue Ridge grade. Hundreds of travel- ing photographers and locals gathered at various locations along its mainline route, capturing photos of No. 611 on its first mainline excursion since its rebuild. It was May 28, 2014, when NS CEO


Wick Moorman turned the first bolt at a special ceremony signaling the begin-


SPECIAL REPORT


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