A famous Roanoke train will ride the rails once again.

The Virginia Museum of Transportation announced Friday that a fundraising campaign has raised enough money to mechanically restore the 611 locomotive.

The museum's executive director says nearly 2,000 donations have come from all over the world since the "Fire Up 611" campaign started earlier this year.

Even though the initial goal of restoring the train has been reached, the museum says the fundraising campaign will continue.
The hope is to use the extra money to build a maintenance facility for the museum.

Here is the news release:

The Virginia Museum of Transportation and the Fire Up 611!  Committee announced today that the Fire Up 611! Capital  Campaign raised the  funds to mechanically restore the Norfolk &  Western Class J 611 steam passenger locomotive.

Close to  2000 donations have poured in  from across the United States and 15 foreign countries, demonstrating  worldwide appreciation for the  Roanoke-designed and built locomotive. With the  current funding in  place for restoration of the mechanical components for the steam  engine, the campaign will turn its focus toward raising funds to provide  the maintenance facility that will keep the locomotive running for decades.  

“We have achieved a significant milestone,  but there is still  much work to be done,” explains Beverly T.  Fitzpatrick, Jr., Executive  Director of the Virginia Museum of  Transportation. “Our goal from the  beginning has been not only to get  the 611 up and running, but to also keep it operational for  decades.”

The fundraising campaign will continue  until  additional funds are raised to build a   maintenance facility. Until those funds are raised,  the Class J 611 will remain at the Virginia Museum of Transportation in Roanoke,  Virginia.

The Virginia Museum  of Transportation launched the  Fire Up 611! Campaign on June 28, 2013  with a goal of raising $3.5 million by October 31, 2013, in order to  restore the 611 in time for excursions in Spring  2014. “We knew going  in that we were operating on a very ambitious timetable  to be able to  begin excursions in the spring,” adds Fitzpatrick. “Good things  have  happened and are continuing to happen. This is not a matter of  ‘if’ she’ll run again; it’s a matter of ‘when.’”    

In June, the Fire Up 611! Committee outlined the fund necessary to complete this project:   
 
1.     $500,000  to $750,000 to restore the Class J 611. The restoration includes a  complete  overhaul to meet current Federal Railroad Administration and strict   safety guidelines.  
 
2.     $2 million to  $2.5 million for a maintenance facility. The facility will be used  to maintain  the locomotive so that she can run for decades. It will  also house an  educational center that can teach science, technology,  engineering, math and  social sciences to students of all ages.    
 
3.     $500,000 for business operations. Included in these costs are marketing,  fundraising,  business tools, insurance and working capital.    

4.     $1.5 million for an endowment to maintain and operate the Class J 611 for  decades.    

The Next Milestone: The  Maintenance  Facility

 For the  Class J 611 to  successfully operate excursions, the locomotive will  need a dedicated  maintenance facility.   “The 611 was  conceived, designed, engineered  and built in Roanoke,” says  Fitzpatrick. “She is known worldwide for her  technology, mechanical  perfection, streamlined design and low baritone  whistle. It’s  important that we keep this Roanoke icon in Roanoke as much as  possible.”
 
The facility will house maintenance equipment   for the Class J 611, an exhibit gallery and an educational center so  students  of all ages can learn about steam technology, science,  engineering, math,  social sciences and history. All donors to the  project will be listed on a permanent wall of honor. The facility will  also keep the 611 accessible to the  public during maintenance  periods.
 
“We believe that the facility  will protect our  donors’ investment in the Class J 611,” Fitzpatrick says. “We  want  future generations to enjoy the power and elegance of the Class J  611.”  
 
In 2012, visitors from every corner of the United States  and 49  foreign countries visited Roanoke and the Virginia Museum of  Transportation to  see the Class J 611 in person.  
 
“Roanokers should feel proud that  their city built such  a beautiful locomotive,” Fitzpatrick says. “She was  designed and built  by the craftsmen of the Roanoke Valley. She’s a symbol of  our past and  a signal of what we, as a community, can do in the future.”    

While the Fire Up 611! Committee continues to meet with  interested investors, the Virginia Museum of Transportation is working  to finalize agreements with the North Carolina Transportation  Museum Foundation and Steam Operations Corporation. The 611 will be restored at the  roundhouse at the North Carolina Transportation Museum  in Spencer, North  Carolina - just a few hours from Roanoke, Virginia.  The facility hosts one of  the last surviving roundhouses equipped with  the tools necessary to restore  the massive locomotive.  
 
The team of industry leaders at Steam Operations Corporation will provide the expertise to allow the Class J 611 to meet current safety and Federal Railroad Administration regulations. Steam Operations Corporation was responsible for shutting down the Class J 611 after its last excursion run in 1994. The team has first-hand knowledge of what is required for restoration.
 
“It will take approximately nine months to restore the Class J 611,”  says Scott Lindsay, president of Steam Operations  Corporation, a member of the Fire Up 611! Committee who also worked on the 611 during  its last excursion runs. “The team is assembled and ready to go.”   

Interested investors and fans of the Class J  611 are invited to  visit fireup611.org for more information.   
 
About the Norfolk & Western Class J 611
 
The Norfolk &  Western Class J Locomotives were a marriage of beauty and power. The  bullet nose,  modern lines, graceful curves and baritone whistle combined with unbridled  power to make the engine the iconic symbol of modern steam locomotives.  
 
The Norfolk & Western Class J Locomotives were designed,  constructed and maintained in Roanoke, Virginia. These streamlined locomotives  have captivated the  hearts of rail fans worldwide since they first began to  roll out of  the N&W Roanoke Shops, beginning in 1941.
 
The  Class  J 611 Steam Locomotive was built in 1950 and pulled the Powhatan Arrow, the famed passenger train, from Norfolk to Cincinnati. The Class J 611 retired from passenger rail service in 1959.  In 1962, the  611, the  last Class J locomotive in existence, was moved to the Virginia Museum of Transportation in Roanoke, Virginia.  
 
In 1981, Norfolk Southern  pulled her out of retirement  and restored her to her original glory in  excursion service. She was  retired from excursions in 1994 and moved back into  the Virginia  Museum of Transportation, where she sits today, greeting tens of   thousands of her fans who visit from across the globe every year.  

More information about the Fire Up 611! Campaign and Committee can be found at fireup611.org.    
 
How to Give

The Virginia Museum of Transportation gratefully  accepts  donations to the Fire Up 611! Campaign. Donors may visit  fireup611.org to download pledge or donation forms or to make a gift  securely online. For stock  gifts, wire transfers or questions about  giving to Fire Up 611!, please call  540.342.5670 ext. 105 or email fferguson@vmt.org. The  Virginia Museum of Transportation is a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization, so  donations from US donors are deductible as allowed by  law.