Train fanatics watch as ‘Queen of Steam’ rolls into Roanoke

The 73-year-old steam locomotive was built in the Star City

ROANOKE, Va. – Train lovers rejoice! The famous ‘Queen of Steam’ locomotive is back in the Star City for the first time in four years.

10 News first told you about the return of the beloved 611 locomotive on Wednesday. On Friday afternoon, train fanatics of all ages came out to see the ‘Spirit of Roanoke’ pull into the Virginia Museum of Transportation.

Joe Camer was just one of many people lined up on the 5th Street bridge as the locomotive passed underneath. Camer used to be a conductor for the 611 back when the museum put on excursions.

“The smell of the coal smoke. The smell of the steam. The sound of it. It’s a living, breathing entity,” Camer said. “I’m like a kid actually.”

Jonan Wilkin and his group of friends also lined the bridge to try and get pictures of the locomotive in action.

“I think 611 might be the best example of Steam left in America. It’s just an amazing locomotive. The epitome of steam power,” Wilkin said.

Ezra Hatter remembers getting up in the cab of the locomotive as a kid while it was housed at the Virginia Museum of Transportation for decades. Friday was the first time Hatter got to see the ‘Queen of Steam’ in motion.

“It looks the same. It’s very surreal thinking that I was in that cab hundreds of times … hundreds of times,” Hatter said.

The museum will have a ‘Blow the Whistle’ event on Saturday to celebrate the locomotives return. There are plans to try and have excursions eventually but nothing is finalized yet.

Wilkin says he plans to come out to ‘Blow the Whistle’ and suggests it for anyone who hasn’t seen a steam engine up close.

“You don’t get to see one every day, a steam locomotive. I would say if you haven’t seen it before, come on out and see it. It is not necessarily a once in a lifetime thing but it’s a lifetime memory. It’s something you will never ever forget,” Wilkin said.

Watch drone footage from the arrival below.

Check out some Pins from her arrival Friday afternoon!

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Michelle Donahoe

611 arrival to Roanoke, VA

5 hours ago

Connor Dietrich

She’s back home! The 611 has returned to the star city!!

6 hours ago


‘Queen of Steam’ making her way back to the Virginia Museum of Transportation. Such a fun day to live in the Star City.

7 hours ago

About the Author

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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