The Virginia Museum of Transportation has one of the finest rail collections in the United States. More than 50 exhibits provide a broad view of Virginia’s rich railway heritage.
Our most valuable exhibits are the internationally known Norfolk & Western Class J-611 and the Class A-1218, the most modern steam locomotives ever built. Both are products of the talent and skills of the Norfolk & Western personnel who designed and built these locomotives in the N & W’s own Roanoke Shops.
The Class A locomotive was known for its durability and power. It routinely pulled 150 cars loaded with coal at an average speed of 70 miles per hour. The N&W shops built 43 Class A engines in the 1940s. The 1218 on display is the only one that escaped the scrap yard.
The Class J locomotives could pull a 15-car passenger train at 110 mph across level terrain. Only 14 such engines were built and the 611 on exhibit in the Museum is the only one still in existence.
One cannot fully appreciate the power and size of these man-made marvels without standing beside them in the Museum. The wheels alone are as tall as the average man.
To learn more about the Class J and Class A locomotives and other rail exhibits, please select a category from the menu on the right.