Generations travel to Roanoke to admire 611 locomotive, blow the whistle

ROANOKE, Va. – Fans of the 611 locomotive had their chance to pay respects to the Queen of Steam on Saturday.

The “Blow the Whistle” event held at the Virginia Museum of Transportation signals its arrival back home.

“I’m a little kid in a candy store,” fan Josh Williams said. “I mean this has been a dream of mine since I was a little kid.”

The Ugron family from the Roanoke-Lynchburg area are among many that came to see the over 70-year-old locomotive.

“Pulling the cord to blow the whistle, it’s just something else,” Joey Ugron said.

Joey is accompanied by his father, Jeff, and grandfather, Ray, three generations of locomotive lovers.

“It’s perfect timing,” Ugron said. “Something for Father’s Day. So it was kind of one of those unique experiences where you know a gift card couldn’t change it, cash couldn’t change it, a card couldn’t change it. Something that we may not get to experience together again.”

It’s been more than four years since the Queen of Steam was in the Star City. It’s spent time on display in Pennsylvania, but there’s no better place than home.

“Roanoke built, built here, bred here, ran around here,” Ugron said. “Always a piece of the Roanoke history.”

Museum officials say there may be something else exciting in the works.

611 steam excursions may be coming back to Virginia. While no dates have been set yet, officials expect them to take place later this year.

About the Author:

Amy Cockerham joined the 10 News team in January 2023.