STAUNTON, Va. (WRIC) — This fall, a historic steam engine will be put back on the tracks to deliver Virginians premier views of autumn across the Shenandoah Valley.
Once hailed as one of “the finest steam passenger locomotives in the world,” the Norfolk & Western Class J No. 611 steam passenger locomotive is the last of its kind and will throw open its doors to offer weekend excursions throughout October and into November. The opportunity will allow riders the one-of-a-kind experience to ride aboard a piece of history and catch exclusive views of the crisp fall foliage during peak season.
Riders can expect a three-hour climate-controlled round-trip through the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests and into the rolling hills of Shenandoah. The train will pause to be joined by a pair of diesel trains for the return trip.
The excursions are a joint venture between the Virginia Museum of Transportation, Inc. and the Virginia Scenic Railway. Tickets start at $99 per seat and will be made available for purchase online in mid-August. Passengers will not be allowed to bring food or drinks aboard but will be given dining options during the ticket-purchasing process.
“We are delighted to help make this run possible,” said Steve Powell, President of the Virginia Scenic Railway. “We love trains and railroad history, and we look forward to partnering with the Virginia Museum of Transportation to host the legendary 611 and bring the steam engine roaring to life in the Shenandoah Valley. This is one of the prettiest routes around, and we are excited to share it.”
The Class J No. 611 steam engine is the sole survivor out of the 14 Class J locomotives built by Norfolk & Western. After an extensive renovation in 2015, this fall will be the first year the train has welcomed passengers aboard in nearly 30 years. It offered regular passenger revenue service from 1950-1959 and was later operated as an excursion experience from 1982-1994.
The train will depart from the Staunton Amtrak Station at 12 Middlebrook Ave. in Staunton. It’s advised passengers arrive 30 minutes before their selected train schedule. Boarding behind 10 minutes before the departure time.
The train will depart at 9 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. on the following dates:
- Oct. 6 – 8
- Oct. 13 – 15
- Oct. 20 – 22
- Oct. 27 – 29
- Nov. 3 – 5
Click here for more information, and frequently asked questions.