The J-611 Pulling the "Powhatan Arrow" in Petersburg. May 1993
The Norfolk & Western Railway built a fleet of fourteen (road numbers 600 through 613) 4-8-4s that were an excellent balance of strength and speed. They were built by the N&W's own forces in it's shops in Roanoke, Virginia.
In 1941, the first five, (road numbers 600 through 604) were designated Class J and were of a streamlined design and had 70" drivers, 27 x 32 cylinders and a boiler pressure of 275 psi. They weighed 494,00 lbs and had a tractive effort of 73,000 pounds.
In 1944, six more, (road numbers 605 through 610), this time designated Class J-1, were built without streamlining because of wartime shortages of materials. They were otherwise identical to the Class Js. After World War II, they were refitted with streamling and with light weight rods. Number 610 was loaned to the Penn. Railroad for testing and during tests was able to hold a steady speed of 110 miles per hour.
During the 1940's and 50's on the Norfolk & Western, the locomotives were kept in top shape in facilities that were modern, clean and well equipped. The J's could be fully serviced in just about one hour. With this efficiency, this small group of locomotives could handle eighty percent of the Norfolk & Western passenger trains. The operated daily between Cincinnati and Norfolk, pulling such trains as "The Powhatan Arrow", "The Pocahontas" and "The Cavalier".
There is one survivor, number 611, which is now at the Virginia Museum of Transportation in Roanoke, Virginia.
"Powhatan Arrow" coach # 539 at Union Station, 1993.
In April of 1946, the Norfolk & Western Railway ordered ten 58-seat coaches for the "Powhatan Arrow" and "Pocahontas" from Pullman-Standard. The cars were delivered from October through December of 1949. They were built with smooth sides and painted in Norfolk & Western's tuscan red and black. The cars were numbered 531 through 540. Of the ten cars in this series, eight may still be in some type of operation. The Powhatan Arrow 539 operated between Cincinnati, Ohio and Norfolk, Virginia. After the N&W service was discontinued in 1971, the car was put into commuter service in Chicago for several years and then retired for storage until 1982 when N&W selected 539 for operation in the Norfolk Southern Steam Program. In 1992, the Watauga Valley Chapter NRHS received the 539 from Norfolk Southern and completely restored this beautiful example of the glory days of rail passenger service.
Also on display this same day in 1993 was this C&O Caboose. This caboose still remains in Petersburg today and can be seen at the "Old Southside Station" on River Street.