611: American Icon Blu-ray
The Story of the Last Norfolk & Western Class J Steam Locomotive
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It takes a lot of effort to chronicle the sixty-six year history of the Norfolk & Western Class J 611. There are so many stories to tell: of her original design and construction at the pinnacle of the steam era; of her restoration to operating condition after sitting cold for decades; and, finally, of her triumphant return to the rails in 2015 to the delight of thousands. The documentary will preserve all the memories that linger in the heart long after the locomotive thunders by, and the steam fades from view.
The Virginia Museum of Transportation has been working on this documentary to tell those stories, and more, since 611’s most recent restoration was announced.
The documentary features rare historic footage and exclusive, close-up views of the mechanical work that were captured only by our camera crews. Interviews with noted authors and historians explain the performance superiority designed into every J, and the remarkable craftsmanship that went into building every one.
“No. 611's rebirth in 2015 was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, a joyous occasion for all of us who love railroads and the American experience. This video captures the essence of the restoration, the history, and the promise of this legendary locomotive.” —Jim Wrinn, Editor, TRAINS Magazine
Watch 611 roll on, full of power and grace, decade after decade. 611: AMERICAN ICON was shot in 4K and will be available in HD for the very best color and picture quality. Runtime is approximately 75 minutes. Blu-ray and DVD are region free.
611: AMERICAN ICON was made possible by support from the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, the Richard Gwathmey and Caroline T. Gwathmey Memorial Trust, and the American Electric Power Foundation.
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Posted by Evan P. on 3rd Jan 2018
DVD is awesome! Professionally shot and edited. Goes into the past and present of the greatest steam locomotive ever built! Highly recommended for anyone who loves 611 or steam in general.
Posted by James Simmons on 19th Jun 2017
Great mix of historical information on the N&W and how the J-Class fit into it's passenger business. Loved the early photos of the J, Y, and A locos being built. The videographers did a great job capturing critical parts of the 611 restoration process. Would have loved to have more "extra" materials showing different aspects of the rebuild, but whats on the DVD was excellent. Certainly worth the price. I've watched it at least 3 times in the first days I've had it.
Posted by Stuart on 28th Jan 2017
I saw this presentation on PBS; I knew immediately that it was something that I had to have as a J-class modeler & N&W model railroader. The disc played wonderfully; it's a can't miss.
However, our copy was Blu-Ray - it only runs on a Blu-Ray disc player. Be sure to check your equipment!
Posted by Raymond Manley on 25th Sep 2016
The video is a great combination of the overall history and the restoration and looks great in HD on the bluray version!
Posted by William Ellson on 16th Aug 2016
An amazing documentary about an amazing feat of engineering. I like how the story of the restoration is interwoven with the history of 611 and the J-Class locomotives. As an avid railfan who has spent many hours chasing her, it's interesting to see all the work and effort that was placed into her most recent restoration.
Posted by C.B. McCoy on 1st Aug 2016
This documentary covers the J Class from the days of design through her most recent return to the rails. The interviews with the people who were there at the beginning and that lovely brought her back to life are incredible.
Posted by Jeb Kriigel on 31st Jul 2016
As a passionate supporter and fan of the J-611, I have an extensive collection of 611 DVD's including some recent Blu-Ray offerings which are all excellent. Those cover lots of action-filled excursions and run-bys. The American Icon DVD is by far the most comprehensive, inclusive, and the very best of them all in that it provides an excellent history of the N&W and the J's. It specifically covers the many lives of the 611, which fills in a lot of information that can normally only be found by researching several books on the subject. The highlight of this DVD is that is covers in great detail the recent restoration and provides insight into the many people who provided their expertise, time, labor, and passion to complete the project in just one year. The focus is not only on the people, but also the many mechanical parts that make up this magnificent machine. This program puts it all together in an interesting and entertaining manner that is easy to understand and follow. This is that story of passion that everyone who loves the 611 will truly appreciate and understand. Awesome and inspiring, this DVD captures that special feeling we all share for this unique locomotive and it is a tribute to all who had a part in bringing her back to life!
Posted by Richard Cook on 30th Jul 2016
611: American Icon is an excellent production featuring historical context, technical information, archive footage and exceptional contemporary photography of one of the finest steam locomotives ever built. The restoration sections in the main presentation and bonus features are truly fascinating. Our thanks and admiration should go to all those that dedicated their time plus considerable engineering skills to restore 611. Although steam locomotives are always impressive it is only when the fire is lit and operating pressure is reached can their true beauty and power be appreciated. Hopefully this magnificent Class J will be thundering along the high iron for many future generations, if you like steam locomotives you will enjoy this presentation.
Posted by Earl on 30th Jul 2016
A well told story of the design, building, and subsequent excellent performance of an end-of-an-era steam locomotive. The technical detail is enough to allow a non-tech oriented viewer to grasp the outstanding engineering and machining achievements of the N&W Roanoke Shops.The historical review of the beginnings of railroads in the USA,
the importance to the growth of the industrial giant that the country became, the link between abundant coal resources and steam powered
rail transportation are all told in a fascinating tale. The videos and phots are superb and illustrate the story well.
Posted by James D. Martin on 30th Jul 2016
The viewing with remarks was not distracting. The "normal" viewing was too drawn out during the restoration, but nicely done during the return home. Most viewers will probably like the last half better.
I was fortunate to be a passenger during the run from Ashville NC to Spartanburg SC up and down Saluda Grade. Quite an experience.