Fifteen Years Ago today

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at
Thu Oct 25 19:09:33 EDT 2007

Never say never. The 611 may yet have another chance. That is what my group, the Friends of the 611, are hoping for.
Lois J. Ponton,
Board Member, Friends of the 611

Date: Thu, 25 Oct 2007 09:42:57 -0700Subject: Re: Fifteen Years Ago todayTo: nw-mailing-list at nwhs.orgFrom: nw-mailing-list at
WOW, has it really been that long? I remember it was on 10/25 because it usually crossed my mind, but didn't realize it had been 15 years. I remember it like it was yesterday. I, too, was lucky enough to be on the portion of the train that went up behind the J. I was on the fireman's side, 3rd car, a fluted stainless car as I remember. My uncle and I had to perfect seat when the engine stalled as it was in a left hand curve.

I was in the cab the last couple of times up the hill. I vividly remember having 12 in the cab the last time up in November '94. That was also the last time that Jack Tayor ran the engine. I sat on the water cooler on the tender on the fireman's side and could look out down the roofline of the cab. Needless to say, the sound was awesome.

NW Mailing List <nw-mailing-list at> wrote:
It's hard to believe it, but today marks 15 years since the day I rode611's first excursion up Saluda Grade. October 25, 1992 is a day thatI won't ever forget when me and my dad rode the Piedmont CarolinasChapter NRHS excursion from Charlotte, NC to Asheville, NC viaSpartanburg, SC (my hometown) and return. It was a LONG day, but wellworth it considering that both the J and Saluda grade are no longer inoperation.I rode in the former Norfolk and Western P3 coach 531 which was thefifth car of the rear. Having boarded the train I had no idea that atMelrose, I would be on the first of the last five cars to go up Saludagrade behind 611. I was sitting in the middle window seat on the lefthand side of the car under the letter "D" in "AND." I was rather youngat the time and so when 611 stalled I was not really concerned,although I saw my dad seemed to be. Now I realize he understood thedangers of Saluda grade, but as everyone knows Bob Saxton successfullyrestarted the mighty J and conquered the grade.In Asheville, I went over to the Asheville Chapter NRHS's museum andgot in the cab of ex- Southern Railway 2-8-0 number 722 and rang thebell during the layover as 611 was being serviced in the yard. Ofcourse most of the return trip was in the dark and I ended up fallingasleep during the stop in Spartanburg. My dad says though that hebelieves 611 was breaking the 40 mile-per-hour speed restriction thatwas enforced following the 1986 NS employee special derailment in theDismal Swamp.I also rode the final excursion up Saluda on November 13, 1994 whichalso ended up being my final excursion behind the 611. Althoughunfortunately as luck would have it 611 would be carrying the auxilarywater tender and tool car up Saluda and the train was broken rightbehind the coach I was riding in, which was the Watauga Valley ChapterNRHS' former FEC coach Clinchfield.I have seen both the 611 and 531 since. I went to Roanoke to see the611 and 1218 in October 2003 and enjoyed seeing my old friends. Thenback in May this year I saw the 531 again, although time hasn't beenkind. Hopefully the folks at TVRM will have the car restored andspruced up again sometime in the future.Even though the 611 may (likely) never run again, I'm thankful for thememories and October 25 will be a date I continue to remember dearly.Steven AshleySpartanburg, South Carolina________________________________________NW-Mailing-List at nwhs.orgTo change your subscription go to the NW-Mailing-List archives at
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