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NMRA - 2007 MER Convention

offsite bus tour

Roanoke Rail Tour
Saturday, October 20
8:00 am to 5:00 pm (Schedule subject to adjustment)
$35.00 per person

This all-day bus tour will start with a tour of Freightcar America,, located in the Norfolk Southern Railroad (formerly Norfolk and Western Railway) East End Shop. Freightcar America builds aluminum gondolas and other cars. We will view cars under construction and learn how cars are built. This tour lasts about one hour.


  • Freightcar America requires visitors to wear long trousers and closed-toe shoes. Wear comfortable shoes.
  • Freightcar America does not permit photos inside the building, but permits photos outside the building.

Virtually next door to Freightcar America is our next stop–the Roanoke Locomotive Shops of the Norfolk Southern Corporation. Both EMD and GE locomotives are overhauled at this historic facility that just observed its 125th anniversary.

Following this visit, you have your choice of starting at either the O. Winston Link Museum,, or the Virginia Museum of Transportation,, both of which are connected by a walkway several blocks long that parallels the Norfolk Southern trackage through which trains on all the former Norfolk and Western lines through Roanoke roll. A joint admission ticket gives you the flexibility to spend however much time you wish to spend at the two museums. Lunch is NOT included, but there are many nearby eateries ranging from a traditional hot dog stand to white-tablecloth restaurants and everything in between, most of which are located in the Farmers Market area across the tracks from the O. Winston Link Museum.

The O. Winston Link Museum is located in the former Norfolk and Western Passenger station that has been restored to show the Raymond Loewy modifications of the post-World War II era. You enter the museum much like you entered the train station as a passenger.

The museum houses a very large collection of the large-format photographs of the Norfolk and Western Railway in its last days of steam operation. Most of the photos are the black-and-white night shots for which Link became famous among railfans, but some daylight and color photos are also included. The collection displays on a rotating basis many photos that are not published in the books that we have come to know. Some of the photos are displayed in settings that reproduce elements of the scenes that Link photographed. Some of his sound recordings play in the background.

The Transportation Museum of Virginia is primarily a railroad-oriented museum, both in its extensive collection of locomotives and rolling stock and in its display of exhibits within the former Norfolk and Western freight house in which it is located. The website lists only a fraction of the equipment that is on display, much (but not all) coming from the Norfolk and Western Railway and railroads that it acquired. This museum also houses an O-scale layout.

Just for our tour:

    1. The Museum will open the cab of an unrestored PRR GG-1 engine painted in green with five stripes (Pennsy fans, take note).
    2. The Roanoke Valley Model Engineers, Inc. model railroad club will open its non-public layouts:
      1. The Chesapeake and Western RR, an HO twin-line mainline with a long single-track branch (operational, with some scenery) view track plan
      2. The Big Lick RR, an On3 1950's mountain mainline, logging and coal railroad with passenger service. Trackwork is about 50% complete, with some scenery. Its website is: (Big Lick was an early name for Roanoke, Virginia)
      3. Two small N gauge layouts may be on display--status not certain at press time.

Charlottesville Non-rail tour: CANCELLED

Lynchburg Non-rail tour: CANCELLED

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