Rare 1950 ‘Queen of Steam’ locomotive to spend October at Strasbourg Rail Road

Central Pennsylvania railroad fans are in for a treat during October as Norfolk & Western Class J No. 611, known as “The Queen of Steam,” visits Strasburg Rail Road in the Lancaster County for several public events, including steam excursions, taxi tours, cab rides and more.

The locomotive, one of 14 Class J passenger locomotives built and the last of its kind to exist today, traveled in late August from the Virginia Museum of Transportation to Strasbourg for a ‘steam meeting’ with fellow Norfolk & Western locomotive class MN ° 475, which has been operating at the railway since 1993.

“To have both Norfolk and Western engines remaining operational in one place at the same time is not an everyday occurrence,” says Scott Lindsay, Mechanical Director of No. 611. “It brings me a level of special to everything this exercise.

From October 12 to 14, visitors will have the chance to see how technology has evolved during the 20th century as Strasbourg celebrates “Rail & Road: A Transportation Evolution”. Land vehicles from the pre-1960s era will serve as the backdrop for hostling tours (railway term for steam engine readiness), taxi tours and whistleblowers with the 611 and 475, as well as 15-minute shuttle rides behind 611. The regular 45-minute steam excursion will also operate on all three days.

  • READ MORE: This central Pennsylvania rail line has been named one of the best train rides in the United States

In addition to train-specific events this weekend, owners of cars, trucks and other vehicles built between 1900 and 1960 will be able to stage their classics for photos with the steam locomotives.

No. 611 will end its visit to Strasbourg on October 19-20 and again on October 26-27 with the rare opportunity for visitors to climb inside the cabs of working steam locomotives, where they can control the accelerator, turn on the engine or sit on a jump seat to enjoy the experience. While tickets for taxi rides at No. 611 are sold out both weekends, availability is limited in the taxis of nos. 475 and 90.

The presence of No. 611 in Strasbourg really allows visitors to get closer to the profile with its characteristic Tuscan red stripe. While today’s technology can be held in our hands, the giant steam engine offers a contrasting tactile experience like no other.

“You can see the outer cogs, you can hear it, you can feel it,” says Steve Barrall, station master at the railroad. “It really engages all five of your senses, and that level of interaction is pretty cool.”

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Jose P. Rogers