The Big ‘A’ begins with the first journey of the last remaining Class A articulated engine, #1218 newly rebuilt in 1987. Pace 1218’s inaugural trip north homeward to Roanoke after two years of reconstruction in Birmingham. Spectacular coverage includes aerials of 1218’s first excursions on the Bluefield, Blue Ridge and Christiansburg grades – the only helicopter coverage that we know of the engine’s assaults on the Alleghenies. Catch 1218 thundering both eastbound and westbound from Roanoke for magnificent steam action!
In the finale we present Archie Julian’s classic: “Battle for the Blue Ridge.” Here the monsters of the steam era on the Norfolk and Western attack the Eastern slope of the main line from Bluefield over Christiansburg Hill and across the Blue Ridge. See both the A and Y class engines with the Y’s spinning out on the 3% grades to the mine branches and Pacifics, a rare breed on the N&W, double and triple heading. The J class 4-8-4s bust their guts doing 70 MPH on the main line 2% grades. Even shows the ‘Jawn Henry’, the N&Ws experimental steam turbine in helper service. Feel the energy from the era of authentic working steam.