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The Last Run Of The 611 / Steve Sandburg And Milwaukee Road 261

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All pictures displayed are video captures from actual program footage unless noted.

Program 106
The Last Run Of The 611 / Steve Sandburg And Milwaukee Road 261

Death came quickly to Norfolk Southern's corporate sponsored steam powered excursion program once the decision was made to pull the plug on it at the end of 1994. Since its inception in the 1960's on the Southern Railway, the excursion program had carried over a million riders.

In 1982 the program underwent a major expansion with the restoration of Norfolk and Western 611, a passenger locomotive built in 1950. The 611 was a star performer right up to the end of the steam program and pulled the last excursion train in November, 1984.

The first week in December, the 611 pulled a final, non-revenue, train to Roanoke, Virginia where the engine would be returned to its owner, the Virginia Museum of Transportation. Captured on video by Kipp Teague of Lynchburg, Virginia, this truly would be the last run of the 611,

Milwaukee Road steam locomotive 261 lives on however, and Dave Reed visits with the chief operating officer, Steve Sandburg. The 261 stopped over in Aurora, Illinois on its way to Galesburg for the annual Railroad Days celebration.

To visit Kipp Teague's website click here
To visit Milwaukee Road 261's website, click here.

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Norfolk and Western Class J #611 displays its classic lines while waiting pull a Chicago Chapter NRHS excursion to Ft. Wayne, Indiana in August of 1994.

Roller bearing equipped side rods were just one of the features that made the 611 a state of the art in 4-8-4 steam locomotive.

The sunny side of the locomotive as it sat in Norfolk Southern's Landers Yard.

On its way with a 20 car excursion train, the 611 and company ducks under the Chicago, South Shore & South Bend . . .

and past a waiting freight train. Few knew at that this would be the locomotive's last trip to Illinois.

By the end of the year the 611 would be cold and back at the Virginia Museum of Transportation.

Under way, the 261 rounds the big curve at Montgomery . . .

passes underneath a signal bridge and the then new Orchard Road viaduct. . .

and headed west on BNSF's ex-Chicago, Burlington, & Quincy mainline. Despite the ever rising cost of operating a steam locomotive today, the 261 has come to the Chicago area in '94, '96, '98, '00, and '02. It is scheduled to return once again in '04.

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