Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

April 10, 2014

Restored Southern Railway steam locomotive powers up in Bluefield

BLUEFIELD — A column of smoke rose high from the Norfolk Southern yard in Bluefield as the ex-Southern Railway 2-8-0 #630 steam locomotive built up a head of steam, making ready for its trip to Grundy, Va. The locomotive and a train of Tennessee Valley Railroad passenger cars will be transporting passengers on the Tri-County Mountaineer this weekend.

“I would really like to ride it today through McDowell County,” Sgt. C.F. Kane, commander of the Welch Detachment of the West Virginia State Police said. Kane said that he and his father have tickets to ride the steam excursion from Grundy to Devon, near Williamson, and back.

The Tri-County Mountaineer will make two round trips each day on Saturday and Sunday with departure times from the Grundy Town Center shopping center at 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., and arrival times back in Grundy at 1 and 7 p.m. The excursion is a 72-mile round trip.

As part of the Norfolk Southern 21st Century Steam Program, the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum is offering a limited number of public excursions this spring. Passengers will stay on the train for the entire trip including the turn-around on the “Y” in Devon. The Tennessee Valley Railroad will also be hosting an additional pair of round trips on Saturday, April 19, between Grundy and Devon at the same times.

Several people gathered on the Bluefield State College campus as the Southern #630 built up steam. A pair of NS locomotives were at the head-end of the train and the #630 was pulling a coal hopper, three or four gondola cars filled with coal and several Tennessee Valley Railway passenger cars.

One of the railroaders on site said the two NS locomotives will be used as pushers during the excursions with the #630 at the head of the train. The #630 was recently restored and returned to service by the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum.

When the train started moving to the NS mainline at 8:40 a.m., carloads of photographers took off to travel along the line to find strategic locations to take photographs.

“There appears to be enough light right here at this grade crossing to get a good photograph,” Kevin Gilliam of Winston-Salem, N.C., said as he set up both a video camera and held a digital camera near the Depot street grade crossing in Bluefield, Va. He only stayed long enough to take a couple photos before packing up his gear to find another location.

“I didn’t even know this was coming through Bluefield this morning,” Kelley Massie said. Massie owns a Peterstown pharmacy, and also serves as president of the Pocahontas Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society. “It’s great to see the steam locomotives out here again.”

The Tri-County Mountaineer excursions are all sold out, but the Tennessee Valley Railroad has additional excursions planned through May and into June with tickets available.

— Contact Bill Archer at barcher@bdtonline.com

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