2015 was a milestone year, as Norfolk & Western J-class 4-8-4 #611 returned to steam for the first time in over 20 years. After a triumphant homecoming trip on May 30th, #611 operated 3 weekends of highly successful excursions during June and July before being put back on display at the Virginia Museum of Transportation for the rest of 2015. In the early days of 2016, it was announced that #611 would return to Norfolk Southern for 4 more weekends of trips during the spring months, despite the end of the NS "21st Century Steam Program" in 2015.
This program covers the first 2 weekends in April of 2016, as #611 operated public trips in North Carolina for the first time since 1994. The first weekend of trips departed from the North Carolina Transportation Museum in Spencer, with #611 heading north to Lynchburg, VA on Saturday April 9th and then west to Asheville, NC on Sunday the 10th. On both days you'll see #611 on former Southern rails, including the climb of the famous Southern Loops on Sunday.
The second half of this program covers "The Roanoker" excursions later in the month, as #611 pulled 2 trips from Greensboro, NC to Roanoke, VA on April 23rd and 24th. These trips would head north to Hurt, VA on the Southern mainline, before utilizing the Virginian to travel west to Roanoke. Unlike the NCTM trips, there were no diesel helpers, and #611 put on an impressive display of power as she easily handled her 21-car train. With relatively cool weather on both days, the steam effects were spectacular during the early morning and late afternoon hours.
Filmed entirely in HD, this program features #611 working hard on the mainline along with the beautiful sound of her deep mournful whistle as it echoes through the hills of North Carolina and Virginia. This program has minimal narration (with the option to turn it on or off) and no distracting music.