Sunday, June 7, 2015

N&W No. 611 in Manassas

The lettering on the front wall of the tender clearly reads "Black Smoke Costs Money." Luckily the engineer treated us to a little bit of "waste."
 As we were enjoying our morning coffee on the deck yesterday we heard the unmistakable "moan" of a steam whistle not far from the house. Ex-Norfolk & Western 4-8-4 no. 611 has been in Manassas since Thursday and ran a pair of excursions between Manassas and Front Royal, Va. yesterday and today. 
The whistle sounded closer than the station - it was. The engine was near the grade crossing in Manassas Park where the fire department had a pumper stationed to refill the tender before she made her first run to Front Royal. 
She was due back from that run around 1230, so I jumped in the car maneuvered around the hundreds of extra people in Old Town Manassas (normally on a Sunday morning it's a ghost town…) and worked my way over to the station. 
I managed to get a couple of shots of the train pulling up to the station. The train actually stopped short of the platform and waited about 15 minutes for an Amtrak train. 
I walked along the tracks and got close enough to the cab to hear the radio speaker - the NS pilot in the the cab called the dispatcher and confirmed they were to head just north of the station and use the crossover track there to get on the platform track and back into the station. 
"We'll be running up to Manassas Ave crossing to take on water" said the NS pilot in the cab. 
"Roger, understood" the dispatcher came back. Then there was a brief (5-10 second pause). 
"NS Train xxx …."You need to take on WHAT????"
Guess the dispatcher forgot for a moment this was a steam locomotive. 
Waiting for Amtrak. I felt for the engineer of the Amtrak train - the guy in the orange hat (and a number of other folks) kept standing between the rails of the near track.  

All was well, the engine looked and sounded great - search YouTube for one of hundreds of videos and photos that have been posted - 
I'd hoped I'd get lucky and one of the Amtrak "Heritage" units would be on the head end - not today. 

We clearly heard the dispatcher over the radio "You need to do WHAT???"

Well worth the trip through traffic to see her in action. 

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