611: American Icon DVD
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 Unknown on 15th Feb 2017
Great DVD for 611 and J series history!
Posted by Earl Hamil on 6th Feb 2017
A great story of the restoration and going back into service.
I would have enjoyed a few minutes on how they reassured the train cars to go with it and the work on the two tenders. They sold all the cars in 1994 so they had to go find a new train.
Posted by Gary Jacobs on 2nd Nov 2016
Finally a quality product that really gets in to the subject of steam locomotive restoration-the nuts and bolts of it. Something I have long been wishing for.
More than just restoration, it's about the people-the most important part of any restoration. The interviews are priceless. As you listen to all the people, past and present, their pride in the 611, the N&W, and the restoration effort is evident. A MUST HAVE for any railfan of the steam persuasion. Be sure to listen to the 2nd track with the audio commentary from the production crew. In the end even they show an appreciation for the 611.
Posted by Tommy M. on 26th Sep 2016
Good background and lifecycle history of the 611. Good interviews with the restoration team. Also a good exposition of the mechanical engineering, machine shop craftsmen, and boiler makers that made the N&W shops an industry leader back in the 19th and early 20th centuries. All that great work without computers!. A fine example of why America was a world leader in large scale manufacturing. Also a window into the operation and maintenance challenges the railroads faced during the steam era.
Posted by Randy Sauer on 15th Sep 2016
Very interesting mix of history and the importance of keeping history alive for future generations. Great story line of the people involved in the refurbishment and why seeing the locomotive run was a matter of personal pride and passion. Only thing I would have improved on was more live steam footage without any talk over. Just sit back and see a few minutes of listening to the 611 talk in her own way.
Posted by Beverly Puckett on 18th Aug 2016
My grandfather and father both rode behind the 611 as postal employees, and I grew up following the 611. I was unable to get away to see it the last time it came through St. Louis, and regretted it when they put it into the static display in VA. So of course I bought this DVD. While I agree with one reviewer that there could've been more coverage in the cab from the engineer's viewpoint, I still thought overall, it was very well done. I hope that the 611, now that it is back running the rails, will not run exclusively along the Eastern seaboard, as I'm unable to get back there. I have my father's and my grandfather's big portraits of the 611, and almost came to tears when I heard the lovely baritone whistle of the 611 on this DVD. I do hope you put together another DVD, but next time it's unnecessary to charge a handling fee that is probably at least twice or more what the postage cost to mail it.
Posted by Edward Engle on 18th Aug 2016
I am a steam enthusiast, but I think just about anyone would really enjoy this video. The history of Roanoke alone is worth watching, but when I heard that baritone steam whistle, I cried. I will admit it, and I am not ashamed. It's a sound from my youth, and one simply can't hear the like anymore - except for people like those who restored Old 611 to her original glory. God bless them, every one.
Posted by Jeremy on 18th Aug 2016
I have really enjoyed the information that it has to tell. It has a lot of useful information. It is amazing how the 611 goes together and works. I love to watch it work as it rolls down the tracks.
Posted by Linda on 14th Aug 2016
So far my husband is very happy with the DVD. He likes the information given, but is also happy that there is not someone talking all of the time. He likes relaxing to the train on the move.
Posted by Susan Claessen on 1st Aug 2016
Excellent video. Some thing for the casual viewer and the enthusiast. This is a well produced video that is both thoughtful and insightful. You won't be disappointed with 611: An American Icon.
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