That’s the question for the day as the Virginia Museum of Transportation announces its $3.5 million campaign to get the Norfolk & Western J Class 611 back on the tracks. To visit the “Fire Up 611!” campaign website, click this link.
Three and a half million dollars.
One Norfolk & Western J-Class 611 thundering down the rails again.
The Virginia Museum of Transportation is holding a news conference at 11 a.m. today to announce it intends to make a dream come true for the rail fans who come to Roanoke from around the world to see the 611 steam engine.
The museum is launching its “Fire Up 611!” fundraising campaign with a goal of having the venerable Roanoke-built engine, considered by many to represent the apex of steam technology, operational in 2014 so it can be used for Norfolk Southern’s 21st Century Steam passenger excursion program.
To have the engine ready in time, the museum needs to raise $3.5 million by October, said marketing director Peg McGuire. That goal includes $1 million for the restoration of the engine, $2 million to construct a mechanical shop on the museum’s property where the 611 can be sheltered and worked on, and the remainder for business and marketing expenses. The campaign starts with about $150,000 already in hand, she said.
If the museum meets its Oct. 31 deadline, the 611 will be sent to the North Carolina Transportation Museum in Spencer, N.C., for a full restoration. Officials estimate it will take six to nine months to refurbish the engine to meet Norfolk Southern and federal standards.