The Virginia Museum of Transportation in Roanoke, Virginia, features some of the only remaining examples locomotives, cabooses, and rolling stock of the great Norfolk & Western Railway and railroads acquired by N&W. On display is the awe inspiring N&W 2-8-8-4 Class A No.1218 and the jet-like 4-8-4 Class J No.611.
Though the most prominent pieces of the museum's collection are the two Norfolk & Western engines, there are more than fifty pieces of rolling stock in the collection. Notable pieces include a D.C. Transit Company PCC Streetcar, a Pennsylvania Railroad GG1 locomotive, a Virginian Railway EL-C electric locomotive, and a Virginian Railway SA class steam locomotive, the last remaining steam engine from the Virginian Railway.
Smaller pieces include automobiles such as a 1913 Metz, a 1920 Buick touring car, a Highway Post Office Bus, and an armored car used to showcase the Bill of Rights in 1991. The busy N&W (now Norfolk Southern) main line stretches across thew edge of the property. The museum also displays aircraft and a Jupiter rocket.
Almost synonymous with the N&W is famed photographer O. Winston Link. The O. Winston Link Museum is nearby.
A Word of Warning
While our visit to the museum began well, it ended badly, and I offer you a heads-up to avoid our tribulation. We found the museum by following a map provided by the visitor center. The map directed us to the area of the museum. We pulled into a large parking lot (in photo above, the dark pavement), separated from the museum by a driveway (in photo above, the light pavement), that appeared to be part of the museum. It is not. Nor was it, in our opinions, obviously marked as a private lot. There were no attendants and you were expected to pay by putting money in an envelope at a small box at one corner of the lot.
As we walked across the lot to the museum we passed and exchanged pleasantries with a volunteer sitting outside the front entrance. The volunteer had watched us park and walk across the lot yet never mentioned anything about it being a private for-pay lot. Nor did the admissions person. Result: it cost us more than the price of admission by a few hundred dollars! Our car was towed. Later we found out that we were not the only people to be towed that day, and that it is common for unsuspecting visitors to not be advised of the parking situation and find their car missing when they leave the museum. If you visit this place, be very aware of this! I certainly hope the museum took heed of our suggestions and made it more apparent which parking area belongs to whom.