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Virginia Museum of Transportation 7/27/2018

by Chris Guenzler

We arose at the Hotel Roanoke and after showering and shaving I went for a walk to see some of Roanoke while Robin slept.

The Hotel Roanoke built by the Norfolk and Western Railroad in 1882.

The lobby area of the Hotel Roanoke. I walked out onto the glass bridge over the Norfolk Southern mainline.

Looking west are the mainlines, the Amtrak Roanoke station and downtown Roanoke.

Looking east, the mainline splits with the one to the right going to Norfolk and the one to the left heading to Harrisburg. The Roanoke Shops are in the middle.

The Norfolk and Western station in Roanoke that houses the O. Winston Link Museum and the Roanoke Visitor Center. I returned to the room and we packed up and went to the lobby to call Enterprise to pick us up which they did in the car we rented, a Ford Fiesta. We went to the MacDonald's where I had hotcakes and sausage. Next I drove us over to an impressive church.

Saint Andrews Catholic Church in Roanoke.

Norfolk Southern B4 999 by the Roanoke Shops. From here we arrived at the Virginia Museum of Transportation early, but the old railroad walk was displaced by the new Amtrak Roanoke station so they moved it here.

Locomotive cab of Norfolk Southern 8661.

One of the old railroad walk displays now by the Virginia Museum of Transportation.

The museum from the east side.

More of those old railroad walk displays.

Norfolk and Western tricolor signal display in front of the museum.

Virginia Museum of Transportation

The Virginia Museum of Transportation is a museum devoted to the topic of transportation located in Downtown Roanoke, Virginia, US.


The Virginia Museum of Transportation began its life in 1963 as the Roanoke Transportation Museum located in Wasena Park in Roanoke, Virginia. The museum at that time was housed in an old Norfolk & Western Railway freight depot on the banks of the Roanoke River. The earliest components of the museum's collection included a United States Army Jupiter rocket and the famous N&W J Class Locomotive 611, donated by Norfolk & Western Railway to the city of Roanoke where many of its engines were constructed. The museum expanded its collection to include other pieces of rail equipment such as a former DC Transit PCC streetcar, and a number of horse-drawn vehicles including a hearse, a covered wagon, and a Studebaker wagon.In November 1985, a flood nearly destroyed the museum, and much of its collection. It forced the shutdown of the facility and the refurbishment of 611. In April 1986, the museum re-opened in the Norfolk and Western Railway Freight Station in downtown Roanoke as the Virginia Museum of Transportation. The museum has earned that title, being recognized by the General Assembly of Virginia as the Commonwealth's official transportation museum.

The locomotives Norfolk & Western 611 and Norfolk & Western 1218 were originally property of the city of Roanoke due to the museum's original charter. On the April 2, 2012, VMT's 50 Birthday, the city officially gifted the locomotive titles to the museum.

The Norfolk and Western Railway Freight Station was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2012. The station consists of two clearly identifiable sections, both of which were completed in 1918. They are the two-story, fifty-bay-long, freight station proper which was built parallel to the railroad tracks and now is oriented south, and the one-story-with-basement brick annex that formerly housed the offices of the Shenandoah and Radford divisions of the Norfolk and Western. The building closed for railroad freight business in 1964.

Our visit

Robin and I was greeted by Courtney, Acting Director of the Virginia Museum of Transportation who assigned us a tour guide to take us through the railyard behind the old freighthouse that has the indoor displays of this museum. Robin was making his first visit and this was my second.

Norfolk Southern SD40 1594 locomotive cab display on our way outside.

The Big Lick station display.

Your first view as you step outside.

Washington DC Transit PCC 1470 built by St. Louis Car Company in 1945.

Norfolk & Western Class A Locomotive 2-6-6-4 1218 built by Norfolk and Western in 1943.

Norfolk & Western 2-8-0 6 built by Baldwin in 1897.

Norfolk and Western YA 4-8-8-4 2156 built by Norfolk Southern in 1942.

Virginian Railroad caboose 321 built by St. Louis Car Company in 1949.

Museum view.

Wabash Railroad E8A 1009 built by EMD in 1951.

Norfolk & Western Redbird GP9 521 built by EMD in 1955.

Chesapeake & Western T-6 10 built by Alco in 1959.

Norfolk & Western Bi-Centennial SD45 1776 built by EMD in 1970.

Norfolk & Western RS-3 300 built by Alco in 1955.

Chesapeake & Western DS-4-4-660 662 built by Alco in 1946.

Norfolk & Western Blue C-630 1135 built by Alco in 1965.

American Electric Power Company Glen Lyn 85-ton center-cab diesel switcher 02.

Boxley Quarries 30 ton Whitcomb switcher DM-31 built by the Whitcomb Locomotive Works in Rochelle, Illinois in 1941 for Houston Shipbuilding. At some point, it was purchased by Blue Ridge Stone and worked as a switcher at the company's complex in Roanoke, Virginia.

Celanese 0-4-0F Fireless 1 built by Porter in 1943.

Virginian Railroad 0-8-0 4 built by Baldwin in 1910.

Museum scene.

Norfolk Southern hopper car 23760 built by Norfolk Southern.

Mead Plymouth swicher 200, a 36 inch gauge, built in 1935.

Panama Canal Company Mule 6T 686 built by General Electric in 1914. It ran along rails parallel to the canal, pulling ships through the Gatun, Pedro Miguel and Miraflores locks at the west end. These so called "mules" were actually used for side-to-side and braking control in the narrow locks.

Track speeder.

Norfolk and Western RNRH 512 built by Pullman-Standard in 1949 owned by the Roanoke Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society.

Norfolk and Western caboose 518539 built by International Car in 1969 and 518409 built by Norfolk and Western in 1940.

AEP Glen Lyn Plant RNRH 1.

Nickel Plate Road CY bay window caboose 469 built by International Car in 1969.

Norfolk and Western T6 41 built by Alco in 1959.

Norfolk & Western 4-8-0 1151 built by Norfolk and Western in 1911. It is one of five surviving Norfolk & Western 4-8-0 locomotives. Retired and sold to Virginia Scrap Iron & Metal in 1950, along with M2 1118, M2c 1134 and 2-8-0 917, the so called "Lost Engines of Roanoke" languished in the company's Roanoke yard in South Jefferson Street for nearly fifty years, later joined by Baldwin built Chesapeake Western DS-4-4-600 switchers 662 and 663, along with other rolling stock and tenders.

Museum view.


More Buses.

Norfolk Southern research car 31 built by Pullman in 1925 originally a sleeping car, sold to Southern, rebuilt into Research Car, to Norfolk Southern, as NS 31 "Research".

Museum views.

Virginia Central 50 ton switcher 3 built by H. K. Porter in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for the Virginia Central, the ex-narrow gauge (36") Potomac, Fredericksburg & Piedmont Railroad, which originally operated thirty-eight miles of track between Fredericksburg and Orange, Virginia. In 1926, the Potomac, Fredericksburg & Piedmont was converted to standard gauge and its name was changed to the Virginia Central Railway. In 1938, the entire line was abandoned except for a one mile segment in Fredericksburg which survived until 1983.

Virginian Railroad Electric Motor EL-C 135 built by General Electric in 1956.

Pennslyvania Railroad GG-1 4919 built by the Pennslyvania Railroad in 1942. It was originally 4917 but after a general re-numbering by Penn Central in June 1973 made this GG1 4934 and, later, 4919.

Norfolk Southern Training Car.

Ellett Shanty.

Museum view.

Norfolk and Western dining car china. Robin was given a tour of the aviation museum and since I had seen the rest of this great museum once before, I watched the Trains Magazine DVD of the Return of the Norfolk and Western 611. Once Robin finished and returned, I thanked Courtney for having us both here today while Robin bought a T-shirt.