The news that the Queen of Steam, N&W 611, would once again be riding the rails in excursion service led many people to alter their normal summer vacation plans. Many of us had witnessed the 611 in service on multiple occasions before her forced retirement 20 years ago, while others were jumping at their first opportunity to see her under steam for the first time. I grew up in the days of Southern Steam Program, when the Cincinnati Railroad Club (CRRC) sponsored excursions every summer with various steam locomotives. I am lucky that my father was, and still is, a CRRC member so we always knew which locomotive would be operating in the Cincinnati area. I have so many memories of my dad coming home on a Saturday covered in soot from riding in the open cars and on Sunday after church we would pile into the station wagon to go see the steam engine. Then, in 1994 the Steam Program was suddenly mothballed. All we had left were our memories. Photos were few and far between as we couldn’t afford a “good” camera, not to mention film and processing were not cheap. Railfans rejoiced in 2010 when Norfolk Southern announced plans for 21st Century Steam, reviving the steam program thru an affiliation with the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum (TVRM), the current owner of SOU 630 and SOU 4501. The 21st Century Steam program now has affiliations with the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society, owner of NKP 765, and in 2013 partnered with the Virginia Museum of Transportation, owner of N&W 611, to begin feasibility studies for the possible restoration of the 611, culminating with full restoration in Spring 2015. Seeing 611 on the rails once again has always been a dream for so many of us and I was greatly disappointed to see the 2015 excursion schedule did not include anywhere near Cincinnati. Remembering the sudden cessation of the first steam program, I knew I couldn’t take that chance and wait for a Cincinnati excursion in future years. Remembering the sudden cessation of the first steam program in 1994, I knew I couldn’t take a chance and wait for a Cincinnati excursion in future years. So the day after my husband finished teaching for the year, we headed out of Cincinnati for Manasas, VA. Below are a few of my favorite images from our trip through Kentucky, West Virginia, and Virginia.