Norfolk & Western 611 - Class J Locomotive

The NW J Class locomotive was designed by NW engineers and built by NW workers in the Roanoke Shops. Fourteen of the streamlined 4-8-4 Js were built: 600-604 in 1941-42, 605-610 in 1943, and 611-613 in 1950. Because of World War II, engines 605-610 did not receive their streamlined shrouding until 1946-1947.

The Js' operated daily for eighteen years between Cincinnati and Norfolk, pulling the passenger trains The Powhatan Arrow, Pocahontas, and Cavalier. With a maximum drawbar horsepower of 5,100, the J could pull a 15-car passenger train at 110 mph across level terrain. However, they were so well designed and built that one could be pulled by several people with a rope. The locomotives averaged 15,000 miles per month and some traveled nearly three million miles before their retirement.

Number 611 was built at a cost of $251,544 and began service on May 29, 1950. It pulled the last steam passenger train on October 24, 1959, from Roanoke, VA to Bluefield, WV and back. Later that month, the railroad donated it to the Museum. In October, 1981, the 611 was removed from the museum to be part of what was to become the Norfolk Southern steam excursion program. In October, 1995, the 611 was return the Museum following the end of the excursion program.


  • Manufacturer: NW Railway
  • Class: J
  • Construction number: 388
  • Horsepower: 5,200 (max)
  • Tractive effort: 80,000 lbs.
  • Driving wheels: 70 in.
  • Boiler pressure: 300 psi.
  • Cylinder diameter and piston stroke: 27 x 32 in.
  • Grate area: 107.7 sq. ft.
  • Weight on drivers: 288,000 lbs.
  • Engine weight: 494,000 lbs.
  • Tender weight (loaded with fuel and water): 378,600 lbs.
  • Tender coal capacity: 35 tons
  • Tender water capacity: 22,000 gals.
  • Adhesion between drivers and rail: 3.6
  • Engine, tender length: 109 ft., 2 in.
  • Height: 16 ft.

Other information:

    Type E Superheater, Worthington Type 6S-A Feedwater heater, Standard Type HT Stoker, Baker valve gear with McGill Multirol Bearings, roller bearings on rods and engine, plus driving, trailer, and tender wheels.




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