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611: The Final Excursion on DVD from Valhalla

5 of 5 (2)
611: The Final Excursion on DVD from Valhalla Valhalla Video Productions VV81
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This program preserves the final chapter in the operating history of Norfolk & Western 4-8-4 J Class locomotive No. 611. Norfolk Southern announced the end of its steam program, effective with the final excursion of 611 on December 3, 1994. That cold Fall day afforded spectacular scenes of 611 steaming from Birmingham, AL through hills and valleys to Chattanooga, TN. Two days later 611 left for her "ferry trip" to Roanoke. See all the action of her last five days under steam, including her arrival in Roanoke flying black flags. Read the poignant inscription on her cab: "I am the thoroughbred of steam- Born to run- Born to be free- Forgive them Lord, for they know not what they do!" No other streamlined steam locomotive can match the sheer power and excitement of the 611, with her throaty whistle and coal-fired smoke. Enjoy the sights and sounds of this beautiful lady of the South over and over again on this DVD, because this is the final excursion! This DVD program features Hi-Fi audio with limited narration, and is packaged in a durable plastic library case with a full color cover.

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DVD Item#:VV81
Runtime:56 Mins ($0.32/min)
Producer:Valhalla Video Productions
Aspect Ratio:Full Screen
Shrink Wrapped?:NO!
Disc Type:DVD
Region Code:0 Worldwide NTSC

611: The Final Excursion on DVD from Valhalla
Kevin of Australia on 2010-07-24 05:10:51.

People who found this review helpful: 4

  •  5 of 5




Additional remarks by Kevin of Australia:
Narration: Just enough.
Would kids enjoy this? I doubt it.
Image quality: Good.
DVD Value: Good Value
Recommend to others? Yes.

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611: The Final Excursion on DVD from Valhalla
Steamboy (Revere MA US) on 2020-03-16 12:34:10.

People who found this review helpful: 1

  •  5 of 5


In the Valhalla version of the J's official end of its original excursion service, it starts with 611 whistling at a bend while crossing the small bridge and road way during its official farewell trip on December 3, 1994 from Birmingham to Chattanooga. After the titles, a pair of Norfolk southern switchers 2417 and 2424 move the coaches to the Birmingham boarding area with 611 on the rear. The horn of a freight is off screen as everyone is onboard the farewell forever special. As 611 backs up, a 2 unit freight with engines 8504 and 6654 arrive. With the freight slowing down, 611 switches directions and heads for Chattanooga while making a meet with the freight as the J whistles on. Afterwards, 611 is east of Birmingham as it makes a 35 mile per hour speed limit. Then it whistles for one of the crossings on the way. Moments later, 611 makes a head on shot for the camera crew as it passes by another crossing, and goes under them at the pedestrian bridge. Further down the line, the J is at milepost 131, then we see it at milepost 121. Listen to that incredible whistle. Still in Alabama, 611 passes by a waiting freight in Whitney, as it was taken from the bridge. Afterwards we did some pacing of the J. Next, the J is whistling at an unknown location as it passes by a crossing. Still in Alabama, 611 makes a service stop in Attalla, then it whistles for a nice departure. Listen carefully for the truck horn off screen as the J climbs up a hill passing by people young and old/kids and adults. East of Attalla, 611 is alongside the highway as it whistles under the 2 bridges. Still in Alabama, the J is climbing up a hill in Fort Payne. Afterwards a repeat of the exact opening of this program is shown. Moments later, 611 is still whistling through the southeast, as it passes by a pair of signals at rising fawn after crossing the state line into Georgia. Afterwards, more pacing of the J is in which contains a scene of 611 crossing into the Tennessee state line. In Chattanooga, US Army 2-8-0 number 610 built in 1952, and Alco RSD-1 number 8669 are waiting for a final meet with the J. 611 arrives as the nearby hotel named after a song appears over the small yard in the background. Halfway into the program, 611 slowly backs up and crawls to a hault. As night falls, the sign for the hotel named after a song is shown as the J whistles through the rain storm. This is a perfect angle for a farewell postcard of 611's original excursion service. Moments later, 611 must be parked on a siding to let the freight have The right of way, then it slowly moves to the steam shop at about 90 minutes after midnight (1:30 AM), while the rain is still pouring. On Monday December 5, 1994, the J passing by the yard in Atlanta as empty flatbeds of doublestack cars are shown on the right. On Tuesday December 6, 1994, 611 got a special message from an employee on both sides of the cab quote: I am the thoroughbred of steam. Born to run, born to be free. Forgive them lord for they know not what to do. With maintenance finished 611 leaves Atlanta for the official farewell move on a one way trip home to Roanoke. East of Atlanta, 611 whistles through Suwanee. Listen carefully for some airplanes off screen. Next, the J whistles through Oakwood, and Alto where a dog is barking off screen to greet the steam engine one final time. In the going away shot, look carefully for a freight in the background. After crossing the state line into south Carolina, 611 crosses the bridge at Clemson, then it goes under the U.S. Highway route 25 bridge at Greenville. The sun is beginning to set as the J is crossing the state into north Carolina as it passes by the cameraman at Grover, with fields of grain and wheat. Some boxcars are in the background as 611 makes a going away shot. A sign for Salisbury founded in 1753 is shown as a look at the station itself is included while 611 stops for her final maintenance. Wednesday December 7, 1941 (the 53rd anniversary of the bombing of pearl harbor for the exact start of WWII in america) is officially the final day for all railfans everywhere as 611 rolls her wheels one last time for her homeward bound trip to Roanoke as she drops her fire, and stood silent at the Virginia museum of transportation with 1218 that operates from April of 1987, to November of 1991. First we see the J as it whistles by the Salisbury depot and railroad crossing. All of the regular coaches that 611 carried have been left behind at Salisbury for auction, as some of these have since been returned to the Tennessee valley railroad museum in Chattanooga, while others have since been sold to the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad. Next we see 611 at pilot, as a short freight is added to the rear, which consists of a hopper, a gondola, 2 boxcars (1 from rail box, and 1 from Burlington northern), and another gondola. Afterwards, the J climbs uphill at brown summit. A caboose is on display as 611 whistles through Ruffin. Note the flags that are raised halfway on the pole due to the pearl harbor attacks. Afterwards a going away shot of the J is at an S curve near White oak, then it passes by an empty siding. Next it passes over some construction machines as it crosses the bridge from both angles. After crossing one of the American state lines one more time, 611 is in Bedford, then it goes under the pedestrian bridge. Next it negotiates a bend and whistles at an unidentified location. Almost approaching home base, 611 passes over a small business location as it takes some slow orders, then it later increases speed one final time. This scene is from 2 cameras. A man is on the southeast corner of the screen as it photographs the J in action for The last time, then 611 goes over the highway. Next, it whistles alongside the road. The weather is cloudy as 611 arrives at home base for its official fire drop, and the last whistle blows as it passes by its birthplace: the N&W shops. The consist has been removed and 611 slowly crawls with its identical bell ringing one last time as it passes by the Roanoke depot. As black flags are near the tunnel for its final goodbye, as well as a scene in the car. The narrator of this program made a historic comment: the black flags say it all. Sleep well 611. We will miss you. To close the program, a visit to the Birmingham shops on December 2 is shown which features 611 outside the building, as well as Chesapeake and Ohio 2716 still in its 1981-1982 body as it was moved to fort Wayne Indiana in 1996, but unfortunately it didn't last really long. 2716 was later on display at the Kentucky railway museum in New haven, and recently it is still undergoing its third restoration at Ravenna Kentucky along with Nickel plate 587. The camera operators for this video were Dave Connell, and Kipp Teague.

Epilogue: 20 to 21 years later in 2014 & 2015, 611 was restored again at the North Carolina transportation museum in Spencer. The J did made excursions trips in 2015, 16 & 17 on mainline speed, but unfortunately it didn't last very long like her original career in the 50s due to one of Amtrak's worst presidents creating a huge ban on all of the mainline steam giants especially 611. However in the rest of 2018 and in late 2019, 611 did make occasional appearances at Spencer, and from September through all of October 2019, 611 was towed by diesels as it heads to the Strasburg railroad for a huge reunion with 475 in Lancaster county Pennsylvania. Will 611 operate excursions on mainline speed once again like the other giants? Only time would tell.

Additional remarks by Steamboy:
Narration: Could have used more.
Would kids enjoy this? Yes.
Image quality: Good.
DVD Value: Good Value
Recommend to others? Definitely.

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Added 2020-11-09 19:14:42 by Bob McMillan

As the producer of this video, I would like to note that I was the cameraman for most of the operation before the ferry run starting after the final excursion. Also Dan Web assisted in the production. I am very grateful to Dave Connell and Kipp Teague making their tapes available to round out the program. Fortunately, the title I selected turned to not be completely true as 611 got a second wind some years later. But sad to say, with the closed vestibules and no open window cars the more recent experience was just not the same. I will never forget the return trip from Chatt. in the rain. I rode in the open door of Man O War, soaked and loving every minute of it. Sleep well 611. We will miss you...again.