VMT Appoints “N&W Giants of Steam” author to 611 Historian

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The Virginia Museum of Transportation, Inc., announced today that author Colonel Lewis Ingles “Bud” Jeffries has been named the official historian for the Norfolk & Western Class J 611™ Steam Passenger Locomotive.

Jeffries is the author of N&W Giants of Steam, considered to be the encyclopedia of Norfolk & Western Railway’s steam locomotive design, engineering and tractive power. Jeffries is also a longtime member of the Norfolk & Western Historical Society and the Roanoke Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society.

As 611’s historian, Jeffries will help the Virginia Museum of Transportation with exhibits and educational resources connected to the Class J 611, the Norfolk & Western Railway.  Jeffries is also contributing to a documentary on the restoration of the Class J 611 locomotive, currently underway at the North Carolina Transportation Museum in Spencer, North Carolina.

“We are very pleased to appoint Bud as our official historian,” said Beverly T. Fitzpatrick, Jr., executive director of the Museum. “We have long admired Bud’s research and work, his love for the Norfolk & Western and his dedication to telling this important story. Bud will be an important resource for the Museum, and that his valuable research and vast knowledge will be used to educate younger generations on the history and technology of steam locomotives.”

Fascination with N&W steam started young

As a young boy growing up in Radford, Virginia, Jeffries spent hours sitting by the Norfolk & Western (N&W) tracks watching road, yard and branch line steam power thunder past. “I developed a growing fascination for these mechanical marvels,” he said. “For the railroads, their locomotives were their trademarks, and no railroad did it better than the Norfolk & Western in Roanoke, Virginia.”

Norfolk & Western’s locomotives reflected the characteristics of their owner — rugged, solid, conservative, efficient and proven design. The N&W experimented, developed, refined and tinkered, sometimes through trial and error processes, until it found the locomotives best suited to its needs.

The rich coalfields served by the N&W were located in the rugged mountain territory West Virginia, Virginia and Ohio. The combination of heavy coal tonnage and steep mountain grades meant that the railroad needed to equip itself accordingly. N&W’s steam locomotives were designed to maximum drawbar pull with the highest degree of efficiency.

Jeffries left Radford for a career in the United States Army, rising to the rank of colonel, but the fascination with the Norfolk & Western Railway never ended. Jeffries watched from afar as N&W’s steam era ended in the 1960s, and the men who designed and built and maintained the locomotives were retiring.

“I wanted to tell the story of the Norfolk & Western while the information was still available, and while these men were still alive,” he said.

Jeffries spent years interviewing Norfolk & Western’s former employees — from the men working in the Roanoke Shops, to the men who designed the locomotives to the executives in the motive power building — for his book, N&W Giants of Steam. “These were men of topmost talent and dedication,” he said. “They were men of a worthy profession who were center stage in a drama of accomplishment.”

N&W Giants of Steam was the result of Jeffries’ exhaustive research. The 350-page encyclopedia of Norfolk & Western Railway steam gives readers the opportunity to learn the famous railroad’s superior engineering, management and ingenuity.

“No one will ever forget the sights and sounds of Norfolk & Western Railway’s steam in action,” Jeffries said. “Many thought that day and age had passed into history. But now, with the restoration of the Norfolk & Western Class J 611 Steam Passenger Locomotive, a new generation can see the incredible power of N&W steam.”

About N&W Giants of Steam

When it was first published in 1980, Colonel Jeffries gave us the story of Norfolk & Western Steam as complete as possible, and as no one had ever done. The most definitive story of N&W steam ever written has been updated, revised, and republished in 2005, and fills in the gaps of Norfolk & Western’s history. The revised edition can be purchased from the Norfolk & Western Historical Society Commissary. 

CNN Money profiles the talent restoring the 611

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CNN Money profiled Scott Lindsay, Fire Up 611’s chief mechanical officer, and his latest (and most powerful!) project — the Norfolk & Western Class J 611 Steam Passenger Locomotive.

Scott brings decades of talent, dedication and one-of-a-kind technical skills to the 611. He owns and operates Steam Operations Corporation and is one of the few specialists in the world who can handle steam locomotive restorations of this size.

He and the crew work seven days a week to restore the 611. It’s a labor of love for Scott, the talent he brings in from around the country and the mechanical volunteers who give up their weekends to help with the restoration. Hats off to the mechanical crew!

See the story here. And don’t forget to share!

Scott Lindsay CNN MoneyPhoto courtesy of Scott Lindsay.

Be a part of the story!

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A new children’s book published by the Virginia Museum of Transportation will tell the story of an unlikely friendship between a boy and a train that blossoms into a magical, life-changing journey for them both.

YOU can be part of this amazing story!

Queen of Steam Blog Post
The 32-page storybook will be exquisitely illustrated in full color, featuring not only the engine you love, but you — or someone you choose to honor — can also be a part of the illustrations!

Men and women, boys and girls of any age can be pictured!

What a perfect way to honor an older relative or friend who inspired your love of 611, or to excite your children or grandchildren with the magic of trains!

Your donation of $300 per honored person will include him or her in an illustration in the book and underwrite production costs, making this charming book possible. Our donors will receive:

* two complimentary copies of the book, signed and personalized by the author and illustrator, noting the page that includes your honored person’s likeness
the joy of sharing their love of 611 with thousands of children in this and future generations

* the tax deductible portion of your gift is $262.

Individuals will be included in groupings that illustrate the action in the book. Faces will be approximately 3/4 inch in diameter — about the size of a U.S. dime. The original illustrations will be painted in oil on paper for the greatest richness in color.

Our artist is beginning her illustrations now, so reserve your spot today!

This opportunity is limited to the first 50 book donors.
Images must be received by January 20.

The Museum’s creative team is widely acclaimed:

Nancy Ruth Patterson (above) and Ann Glover (below)

Nancy Ruth Patterson, an award-winning children’s novelist, will provide creative direction. Her five novels for young readers, including The Christmas Cup and
The Shiniest Rock of All, have been honored on reading lists in 10 states.

Alice Standish, who will author the book, will graduate from the Hollins University Children’s Literature Graduate Program in May before beginning her studies in Children’s Literature at the University of Cambridge.

Ann Glover will illustrate the book with lush, full-color illustrations. She is a well-known Roanoke artist whose work has been featured in The New Yorker and Atlantic Monthly as well as in museums and private collections throughout the country.

Signed copies of the book are anticipated in the VMT Museum Store and its online store in mid-2015. The original illustrations will be available for purchase on a first-come, first-served basis after the book is published.

Please see

http://vmt.org/our_story/Dash_Dupree_and_the_Queen_of_Steam.html for more information and to submit your photos!

Questions? Contact Fran Ferguson, Director of Development, at 540-342-5670 ext 105 or fferguson@vmt.org for more information.

Priming the tender

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Taking advantage of a mild day in Spencer, the crew from Willetts Railcar Repair primes the tender. At the end of the day, there was no remaining evidence of black, Tuscan or gold. (Photo by Preston Claytor.)


Painting the tender

Work resumes in Spencer

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In Spencer, the restoration crew celebrated the new year in the best way possible: With welding torches.

After a long (and well-deserved) holiday break, the restoration crew went straight to work. Some of the work this past week: a washout plug sleeve was welded into place and the drawbars were removed for inspection.

Washout plug sleeve.Scott Lindsay


Drawbars inspection.Scott LindsayPhotos by Scott Lindsay.