For a number of years, Norfolk Souther operated locomotive 1218 on steam excursions. This is a huge locomotive! It was designed and built at the pinnacle of the steam era of railroading by the Norfolk and Western's superb shops in Roanoke Virginia.
Ascending the grade toward Front Royal, rattling the trees.
It's purpose was to haul long, heavy merchandise freight trains at mainline speeds - typically 40 to 60 mph.
Rolling at maximum authorized speed toward Charlottesville.
As it turns out, it was also superb at pulling 25 car passenger trains all over Norfolk Southerns network.
Southbound on the ex-Southern Mainline
Fortunately for me, Norfolk Southern operated excursions out of Alexandria, Virginia and I was able to spend a day every now and then, watching the locomotive work.
I followed at a couple of trips from Manassas, Virginia up to Front Royal and one trip from Manassas to Charlottesville.
The Front Royal branch - also know as the B Line on Norfolk Southern provided a challenge for the locomotive as the west end of the line has a significant grade a lot of curves. It also has some really nice places to take some photographs
Now the locomotive sits in the Virginia Transportation Museum in Roanoke. It is still amazing to see, but not quite the same as seeing it in action.
Glad I got to see it when I did!