Virginia Museum of Transportation

Steam-Powered Fundraising

The Virginia Museum of Transportation preserves the history and honors the workers whose talents created the transportation marvels housed in their collection. The museum holds approximately 2,500 objects, including more than 50 pieces of rolling stock—locomotives and other rail cars—and the largest collection of diesel locomotives in the South.

Challenge

The Norfolk & Western Class J 611 Steam Locomotive is the finest American locomotive ever made. She is a marriage of beauty and power. The Class J 611 retired from passenger rail service in 1959. In 1962, she was moved to the Virginia Museum of Transportation in Roanoke, Virginia, where she sits today, greeting tens of thousands of her fans who visit from across the globe every year. Since her retirement, rail fans have clamored, hoped and dreamed that she return to the rails, to blow her whistle and steam over the Blue Ridge and Appalachian mountains once again.

Results

The Virginia Museum of Transportation launched the Fire Up 611! Campaign with a goal of raising $3.5 million. “We knew going in that we were operating on a very ambitious timetable…” stated Bev Fitzpatrick, Jr., Executive Director. Thanks to rail enthusiasts around the world this dream has become a reality and the steam engine has raised the $2.8 million needed to begin the restoration and get the 611 back on track.