The Norfolk & Western Class J 611 steam passenger locomotive heading from Spencer to Asheville through Black Mountain on Sunday, April 10 is sold out. But you can watch it pass through town sometime between 10-11:30 a.m. The “Blue Ridge Special” is scheduled to arrive in Asheville at 12:30 p.m. that day.
Fourteen Class J passenger locomotives were designed and built by the Norfolk & Western Railway between 1941 and 1950. The sleek and powerful locomotives were widely hailed as the finest steam passenger locomotives in the world. Today, number 611, owned by the Virginia museum, is the only Class J still in existence. Rolled out in 1950 at a cost of $251,344, the 494,000-pound locomotive could pull 15 cars at 110 mph. The class average 15,000 miles per month. Some of them traveled nearly 3 million miles before being retired in the late 1950s.
On April 23 and 24, passengers can take full-day trips from Greensboro to Roanoke, Virgina and return to Greensboro. Other excursions are at nctrans.org/Events/611-Spring-Excursions.aspx.