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611 steams up for opening weekend excursions to Va

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SPENCER, N.C. (WSLS 10) - Only a few seats are left for the opening weekend excursion of the "Spirit of Roanoke," the 611.

This Saturday the steam engine will travel to Lynchburg from Spencer, North Carolina for the opening weekend of 2016 excursions.

This year, new passenger cars with luxury first class seating will be available to purchase. Those cars include leather chairs and a glass doomed roof for optimal viewing of the trip.

Also new this year, rail fans can purchase a never before offered opportunity to actually be the conductor of the 611 for a half an hour for the "At the throttle experience." Chief Mechanical Engineer Scott Lindsay says enthusiasts will be allowed to do more than just blow the whistle.

"So they getter chance to be up there and experience the power and moving the locomotive back and forth," Lindsay said.

The half an hour experience will be closely monitored by Lindsay or another engineer. This option will be available at the North Carolina Museum of transportation later this summer. In mid-May Virginia Museum of transportation spokesperson Walker Nelms says the "At the throttle experience" will be available in Roanoke.

More details will be available at a later date.

Lindsay says the Queen of steam is ready to head back to Virginia after months of tune ups, touch ups and final inspections.

"It's been a very, very busy seven days a week constant, constant process to stay ahead of the curve," Lindsay said.

Months of hard work that's fit for the queen, an icon that is cherished around the world.

"It's just an unbelievable thing that we have that is still here from being built in the 1950s. It's up, it's functional, it's running and it's in perfect tiptop shape. It's just amazing to be honest with you," Nelms said.

Tickets for the trip to Ashville, TN from Spencer sold out within an hour. Although the tickets have been going fast, there are still some seats available for the opening day Lynchburg excursion. Tickets can be purchased through the Virginia Museum of Transportation.

Here's the 2016 611 public excursion schedule:

April 9, 2016 – The Virginian, Spencer, N.C., to Lynchburg, Va. SOLD OUT

April 10, 2016 – The Blue Ridge Special, Spencer, N.C., to Asheville, N.C.

April 23, 2016 – The Roanoker, Greensboro, N.C. to Roanoke, Va.

April 24, 2016 – The Roanoker, Greensboro, N.C. to Roanoke, Va.

May 7, 2016 – The Powhatan Arrow, Roanoke, Va., to Lynchburg, Va.

May 7, 2016 – The Pelican, Roanoke, Va., to Walton (Radford), Va.

May 8, 2016 – The Powhatan Arrow, Roanoke, Va., to Lynchburg, Va.

May 8, 2016 – The Pelican, Roanoke, Va., to Walton (Radford), Va.

June 4, 2016 – The American, Manassas, Va., to Front Royal, Va., (runs once)

June 5, 2016 – The American, Manassas, Va., to Front Royal, Va., (runs twice)


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