From my Inbox to you:
“Party Like It’s 1776”
Saturday, July 7: 10 am to 5 pm
The Virginia Museum of Transportation announces the return of the
Norfolk & Western SD-45 Bicentennial 1776 Locomotive
with a patriotic one-day event that celebrates the
country’s independence and Roanoke’s rail history.
“Party Like It’s 1776” will feature Revolutionary War historical interpreters and re-enactors. Children are invited to design their own flag with Betsy Ross. The music group “NS Lawmen” will perform in the Rail Yard. Plus, model train displays, facepainting and other fun family-friendly activities.
Also rolling into the Rail Yard for permanent display will be one of Roanoke’s Lost Engines: the Chesapeake and Western #662 Locomotive painstakingly restored by the Roanoke Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society.
Reduced admission: $5 per person. Museum members and infants under 2 are free.
For one day only, three of Norfolk Southern’s much talked-about Heritage Units will be on display: Norfolk & Western, Interstate and Virginian. The all-new Norfolk Southern Exhibit Car will also be on display.
ROANOKE, VA: The Virginia Museum of Transportation announces a family-fun patriotic party on Saturday, July 7, to celebrate the homecoming of its beloved Norfolk & Western SD-45 1776 Locomotive. The locomotive is returning to the VMT after a cosmetic restoration returned the locomotive to her original red-white-and-blue glory.
“Party Like It’s 1776!” will celebrate the founding of our country, Roanoke’s rail history and our love of all-things-trains. The event starts at 10 am and ends at 5 pm.
The Museum offers reduced admission of $5 per person for “Party Like It’s 1776!” As always, Museum Members and infants two and under are admitted free. The day is also Norfolk Southern Employee Appreciation Day. All Norfolk Southern employees with employee identification and their immediate families are admitted free for the day.
The VMT will transport its Rail Yard to Colonial Days with Revolutionary War re-enactors and historical interpreters. Museum patrons and visitors are encouraged to learn about life in Virginia during the Revolutionary War. Children are invited to design their own flag with Betsy Ross.
Visitors can also enjoy model train displays, facepainting and other family-friendly activities.
The 1776 Locomotive rolls home after an extensive cosmetic restoration
In 1974, the Norfolk & Western Railway boldly painted a locomotive—the number 1776—red, white, and blue to celebrate the USA’s Bicentennial of national independence and to demonstrate the railroad’s commitment to America’s strong future. For years, she led trains across the N&W system, securing her place as a national icon.
The cab of the locomotive featured an eye-catching circle of thirteen stars on a blue field representing the original thirteen colonies that declared their independence from England in 1776. Striking red and white stripes ran the length of the locomotive.
In 1978, the engine was repainted to the N&W paint scheme of black. The engine was retired out of service in 1988 and donated to the Museum. The Museum returned the engine to its original patriotic red, white and blue.
Over the years, the 1776’s patriotic paint scheme faded badly and she lost her patriotic luster. No longer was she red, white and blue,” says Beverly T. Fitzpatrick, Jr., executive director of the VMT. “It was more like she was dingy white, rust-colored and faded blue.” The Museum does not receive any state funding, so funding for restoration came from friends of the Museum and rail fans across the country.
The 1776 Locomotive was the recipient of the 2011 Trains magazine Preservation Award and a People’s Choice Award in the Virginia’s Top 10 Endangered Artifacts competition sponsored by the Virginia Association of Museums and the Virginia Collections Institute. Rail fans across the country also donated to her restoration.
The July 7 event marks the first time the locomotive will be on public display since her makeover.
One of Roanoke’s Lost Engines, the Chesapeake & Western DS-4-4-600 #662 will roll into the Museum for permanent display.
In 2009, Virginia Scrap Iron and Metal Company donated nine old pieces of rail equipment that had been in its yard for decades to the Museum. One was the rusted pile of steel that used to be the Chesapeake & Western DS-4-4-600 #662. Known as one of the “Lost Engines of Roanoke,” the locomotive was held together by rust and memories. Through a valuable partnership with the Roanoke Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society, the 662 Locomotive shines like new again. The Roanoke Chapter of the NRHS is made up of talented railfans who worked on the restoration on nights and weekends – all while most also worked full-time jobs.
Three painstakingly years later, the locomotive is ready to be rolled into the VMT’s Rail Yard for permanent display on Saturday, July 7.
“We couldn’t be more thankful for the work the Roanoke Chapter of the NRHS did on this locomotive,” Fitzpatrick said. “They worked tirelessly every weekend rebuilding the locomotive piece by piece. It’s a beautiful locomotive and we are proud of our partnership with such a significant organization.”
The 662 Locomotive is a diesel locomotive built by Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1946 and bought new by the Chesapeake Western Railway. The 662 Locomotive will be on permanent display in VMT’s Rail Yard.
Three Norfolk Southern Heritage Units – the Interstate, the Norfolk & Western and Virginian – also on display
As part of its 30th anniversary celebration, Norfolk Southern painted 20 new locomotives in commemorative schemes that reflect the heritage of the railroad’s predecessors. The Heritage Unit project celebrates the hundreds of railroad companies were built, merged, reorganized and consolidated into what eventually became Norfolk Southern.
Three of Norfolk Southern Heritage Units – the Interstate, the Norfolk & Western and the Virginian – will be on display on July 7 for one day only.
Norfolk Southern will also have their new exhibit car on display.
For more information, please visit vmt.org.
About the Virginia Museum of Transportation
Home to two of the most powerful steam locomotives in existence today—the N&W Class A 1218 and the N&W Class J 611—the Virginia Museum of Transportation regularly attracts visitors of all ages from across the U.S. and around the world. Through exhibits, artifacts, and an outstanding collection of rail equipment, cars, trucks, airplanes, and more, the Museum tells the rich story of Virginia’s transportation history.
The Virginia Museum of Transportation is the Official Transportation Museum of the Commonwealth of Virginia, but receives no state funding. In 2010, the Museum was named Non-Profit Arts & Culture Small Business of the Year by the Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce. The Museum is located in the historic N&W Freight Station at 303 Norfolk Avenue SW, Roanoke, VA 24016. Open Monday-Saturday 10-5 and Sunday 1-5. 540/342.5670. www.vmt.org.