Back on Home Rails
The Norfolk and Western's famous Blue Ridge Grade eastbound out of Roanoke was the scene of one of the greatest and last shows of mainline steam. Long trains of Appalachian coal were hoisted out of the Roanoke valley by three huge articulated locomotives, typically a Class A 2-6-6-4 road locomotive with a Y6 2-8-8-2 helper on the point and another one pushing on the rear. It was a show for the ages.
Meanwhile, the Queens of Steam, the beautiful Class J 4-8-4's handled the line's passenger trains such as the Powhatan Arrow and the Pochahontas over the same route.
How special, therefore, it was to be able to stand at trackside on a picture-perfect day in May 2016 to witness Class J 611 effortlessly climb the 1.4% grade with 22 cars on the drawbar. It was a homecoming in style.
NW 611Picture of the Day NEW