Wow! This is post number 600. I guess that is a real milestone considering that I've been doing this for... five+ years now. But 600 is a huge milestone in many areas... in baseball, there are only a few players who have hit 600 home runs in their careers. What? Baseball? Well, it's America's pastime... but then again so are trains. So what does 600 have to do with railroads?
Dubbed one of the finest steam engines ever built, the Norfolk & Western Class J 4-8-4 locomotive was produced in their Roanoke shops to power their crack passenger trains. Unlike many other lines, the N&W had to fight mountainous terrain while keeping their passenger trains on schedule. This was the answer provided by their design engineers. Semi-streamlined and sleek, the Class Js powered those passenger trains through the Appalachian Mountains until the end of steam.
Here is number 600 again sitting along side of two other very good engines built/ operated by N&W. To her immediate left is a 2-6-6-4 Class A which was designed to haul hot freight over those same mountains. And, when it came to power over speed, the Class Y, the third loco in the photo was the answer, hauling long strings of coal laden hoppers through the mountains to all parts of the system. Yes, the N&W did turn out some mighty fine steam engines.
Back in the 1980s, the Norfolk & Western pulled one of the Class J locomotives, the 611, from their transportation museum and returned her to service pulling railfan trips all over the system. This included a stop in North Findlay (Mortimer) as the train made its way across northwest Ohio on the old Nickel Plate Road.
Here's a not-so-good photo of 611 as she heads east on the old NKP mainline near North Findlay.
2012 marks the thirtieth anniversary of the Norfolk & Western and Southern merger, creating today's Norfolk Southern Railroad. In addition to the Heritage Locomotives mentioned in an earlier post, rumor has it that the NS will once again be running steam as part of the celebration. Stay tuned for more on that.
So, whether it's blog posts, home runs or locomotive numbers, I guess 600 is a good one indeed!