When it rode the rails of the Norfolk & Western Railway, locomotive 611 was something to see, a streamlined, steam-powered monster that brought stares and a sense of awe whenever it passed.
When my mother returned to Floyd County after my father’s death, we rode into Roanoke on an N&W passenger train pulled by 611.
I was only five at the time but remember that train trip from Tampa, Florida, well. It would not be long before both steam locomotives and the passenger trains they pulled would be part of history.
Now, 611 sits in the Virginia Museum of Transportation in Roanoke. People still stare in awe at the massive steam locomotive.
Built in N&W’s Roanoke shops, it reminds us of another era when life seemed so much simpler.
Nowadays, the only steam-powered locomotives in use pull excursion trains out of places like Greenbriar, West Virginia, and Cumberland, Maryland. This year, we plan to take a few rides on these trains and remember those days.