After a little tune-up in North Carolina, the coal-fired 611 locomotive pulled into Roanoke on Saturday, billowing steam and pulling train buffs behind it.
“She’s here!” Charles “Chuck” Hardy exclaimed when he heard the train coming.
The Virginia Museum of Transportation docent and 611 fanatic was surprised to hear it arriving at 11:20 a.m. Saturday, more than a half-hour early. He’d just been told the train was still about 30 miles out.
“She’s the queen,” Hardy said of his favorite steam engine. And wherever 611 goes, it has an entourage, he said.
Hardy estimated that 1,000 or more people would line the tracks and downtown bridges to see it.