Queen of Steam to make trek back to the Star City

The steam locomotive is returning to Roanoke for the first time in four years

ROANOKE, Va. – Calling all train enthusiasts! The Queen of Steam is returning to the Star City.

The Virginia Museum of Transportation announced the return of the Norfolk and Western J-Class 611 train to Roanoke at the beginning of June.

A specific date for its return has not yet been provided.

According to officials, a “Blow the Whistle” event will likely occur while the engine is still “hot.”

Mendy Flynn, Executive Director of the museum, says her whole team is excited for the return.

“She hasn’t been here for the last four years. Been acting as an ambassador of steam around the United States and Strasburg, Pennsylvania primarily. It’s just wonderful to see her coming home and we can’t wait for people to come and see her,” Flynn said.

The return will be the first time the locomotive has been in Roanoke in more than four years.

Catherine Lucas works as the Public Relations Director for Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge. She’s grown up hearing all about the 611.

“Growing up in Roanoke, obviously the Roanoke star is the first landmark that people think about but the 611 is another one that is really just kind of synonymous with Roanoke,” Lucas said.

The Virginia Museum of Transportation says discussions are ongoing to bring 611 steam excursions back to Virginia. No dates have been formally set, but officials say they expect them to take place this year.

“So many people have stories of their grandfather working on the railroad, or their dads or their uncles. It brings back so many memories for them and their ties to the railroad, especially the 611 for that reason. They’ll flock to come see her and we’re excited to welcome them all,” Flynn said.

The steam locomotive will be departing from Ronks, Pennsylvania, and was recently on display at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania.

Officials said the timing and route of the train’s movement to Roanoke will not be confirmed for operational and security reasons, and while it is on the move, the museum is asking that spectators refrain from trespassing on the railroad or private property, while keeping a safe distance from the tracks.

For more information, visit the museum’s website and Facebook page.

About the Authors

Connor Dietrich joined the 10 News team in June 2022. Originally from Castle Rock, Colorado, he's ready to step away from the Rockies and step into the Blue Ridge scenery.

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