Steam Returns to Roanoke

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This striking picture of the 207 was taken on the Roanoke Belt Line between Franklin Road and Norwich in June of 1967 by Roanoker Dorr Tucker. Note the young boy with the Schwinn “Stingray” bike complete with “banana seat” that was very popular that year. The boy’s orientation away from the train with the look-back over his shoulder indicates there was at least some trepidation as the mighty steam locomotive roared by. (Publisher’s Note: This is one of my favorite pictures that we have published by a local photographer.)
This striking picture of the 207 was taken on the Roanoke Belt Line between Franklin Road and Norwich in June of 1967 by Roanoker Dorr Tucker. Note the young boy with the Schwinn “Stingray” bike complete with “banana seat” that was very popular that year. The boy’s orientation away from the train with the look-back over his shoulder indicates there was at least some trepidation as the mighty steam locomotive roared by. (Publisher’s Note: This is one of my favorite pictures that we have published by a local photographer.)

Almost eighteen years after the last whistle sounded in downtown Roanoke, a steam train is returning this summer.

As part of the Norfolk Southern 21st Century Steam Program, the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum (TVRM) and the Roanoke Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society will be offering two public steam excursions in the Roanoke area during June and July.

Steam locomotive #630 owned by the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum of Chattanooga is no stranger to our city. The coal fired consolidation type engine was operating as # 207 for the then owner East Tennessee & Western North Carolina of Johnson City back in 1967. In May of that year the 1904 vintage engine was brought to Roanoke to operate on the Roanoke belt line to mark an event for what is now the Virginia Museum of Transportation.

Roanokers won’t be able to the ride on the belt line, which is out of service, but they will have the opportunity to ride behind the locomotive from Winston-Salem to Roanoke or from Roanoke to Pulaski / Bristol.

General admission seating will be provided in climate-controlled coaches with comfortable seats and large windows. Roanokers will have the opportunity to let steam carry them over tracks where regular passenger trains stopped operating many decades ago.  The locomotive will be ex-Southern Railway #630, a 2-8-0, built in 1904 in Richmond and recently restored to service by TVRM in Chattanooga.

June 24, Winston-Salem, N.C. to Roanoke one way with bus connection.

• Bus departs Roanoke Visitors Center (the former N&W Passenger Station), 101 Shenandoah Avenue NE, at 7:30 am

• Train departs Winston-Salem 10:00 a.m.

• Train arrives Roanoke 4:00 p.m.

• Route: Norfolk Southern R-line (“Punkinvine”) between Winston-Salem and Roanoke

• Locomotives: Steam locomotive 630 with diesels assisting

• Equipment: air-conditioned coaches, snack and souvenir car

• Fare: $95. Includes box lunch and bus transportation

July 7, Roanoke to Pulaski or Bristol one way with bus return to Roanoke.

• Train departs Roanoke Visitors Center (the former N&W Passenger Station), 101 Shenandoah Avenue NE, at 9:00 am

• Train arrives Pulaski at 1:30 pm, Bristol at 4:45 pm

• Route: Norfolk Southern main line between Roanoke and Bristol

• Locomotives: Steam locomotive 630 with diesels assisting

• Equipment: air-conditioned coaches, snack and souvenir car

• Fare: $80 Roanoke-Pulaski; $80 Pulaski-Bristol; $125 Roanoke-Bristol

The Roanoke Chapter of the NRHS was founded in 1968 in Roanoke to preserve and disseminate information on western Virginia’s rail heritage, most specifically that of the Norfolk and Western and Virginian Railways.  The chapter is quite active in the preservation and restoration of historical rail equipment, documentation, and structures relating to the railroads in our area.

For tickets and information, see www.tvrail.com/pages/21st-Century-Steam or call 423-894-8028