The Norfolk & Western Class J #611 is a steam locomotive built in 1950 by the Norfolk & Western Railway at the East End Shops in Roanoke, Virginia. The locomotive is notable for its streamlined design, which was intended to showcase the efficiency and power of steam technology in the face of the increasing dominance of diesel engines.
The 611 is considered one of the most powerful and technologically advanced steam locomotives ever built, and is the only surviving Class J steamer to the present day. It was used to pull passenger cars on the Norfolk and Western railway system, including the Powhatan Arrow and the Cavalier.
In 1959, the 611 was retired from services. In 1962, it was moved to the Virginia Museum of Transportation, Inc. in Roanoke (formerly the Roanoke Transportation Museum).
In 1981, Norfolk Southern pulled 611 out of retirement and restored it to its original glory. Once again, it blew the whistle to sleepy towns and thundered across the landscape.
In 1984, the Class J #611 was named a National Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.
611 retired from excursions in 1994 and moved back to the Virginia Museum of Transportation, Inc., home to 611 when it is not traveling. 611 was put back into operating service in 2015 by the Virginia Museum of Transportation, Inc.
It has become an important piece of American railroad history, and is considered an engineering marvel by many rail enthusiasts and historians. The Class J #611 is designated as the Commonwealth's Official Steam Engine.