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Classic Streamliners - TRAIN​CYCLOPEDIA

Norfolk & Western J class No. 606 leading the Powhatan Arrow.  This was the publicity photo used to create the hand-colored postcard seen above.

Norfolk & Western Railway

Powhatan Arrow Observation-Lounge - forward view.

Norfolk & Western Railway

Postcard depiction of the Norfolk & Western's beautiful Powhatan Arrow. The train traveled between Norfolk, Virginia and Cincinnati, Ohio.

The Norfolk & Western's beautiful Powhatan Arrow. The train traveled between Norfolk, Virginia and Cincinnati, Ohio.

The Powhatan Arrow
The Powhatan Arrow was one of the named passenger trains of the Norfolk and Western Railway. Its route ran from Norfolk, Virginia, to Cincinnati, Ohio, USA.

Train 25 left Norfolk Terminal Station at 7:00 am, and made the 565 mile run to Portsmouth, Ohio, in 12 hours 50 minutes. The remaining 111.6 miles to Cincinnati Union Terminal took nearly 3 hours as the train performed all the local work on that stretch of line.

In the reverse direction, train 26 left Cincinnati at 8:10 am and Portsmouth at 11:10, arriving in Norfolk at 11:55 pm.

The motive power for the Powhatan Arrow was built by the Roanoke Shops of Norfolk and Western located in Roanoke, Virginia. The train was given its name from a name submission contest offered by Norfolk and Western, the winner of which was Mr. Leonard Allen Scott of Dry Branch, Virginia. His entry (among over 140,000) was sent out in the last sack of mail picked up by the mail train in Parrott the day of the deadline for postmarks. The Arrow made its maiden run on April 28, 1946, and quickly became one of the most popular of Norfolk and Western's passenger trains. It and its J-class powered companions traveled approximately 15,000 miles per month and may have traveled nearly three million miles in its lifetime.

Background and class history
Among the most famous steam power of the N&W were the Class "J" 4-8-4 steam locomotives. They were the pride of the N&W, pulling crack passenger trains such as the Cavalier, the Pocahontas and the Powhatan Arrow, as well as ferrying the Southern Railway's Tennessean and Pelican between Monroe, Virginia, and Bristol, Tennessee. On a test on the Pennsylvania Railroad, a "J" achieved 110 mph with a ten car, 1050-ton train along one section of flat, straight track in Pennsylvania. This was remarkable performance for a reciprocating steam locomotive with 70-inch drivers . However, the only time the "J"s were able to reach those speeds on N&W rails was on the Eastern portion of the line, between Petersburg and Norfolk. The average speed of the Arrow between Norfolk and Cincinnati, with much of the route through the mountains, was only about 43 mph. The "J"s were numbered from 600 through 613, and were built in three groups from 1941 to 1950, and the only surviving member of this famous class of locomotives is 611, currently on display at the Virginia Museum of Transportation in Roanoke, only a few hundred yards west along the old N&W main line from her birthplace.

In April 1946, the N&W ordered sufficient passenger cars to re-equip the Powhattan Arrow completely and the Pocohontas partially. The consist for the new Powhattan Arrow included two 48-seat coaches with crew room (P1 class, No. 501 and No. 502), two 66-seat divided coaches (P2 class, No. 511 and No. 512), ten 56-seat coaches (P3 class No. 531–540), four 36-seat dining cars (D1 class, No. 491–494) and two lounge-tavern-observation cars (P4 class, No. 581 and No. 582). Some of the P3 and two of the D1 cars were for the Pocohantas.

The Powhatan Arrow, N. & W. all-coach train operated between Norfolk and Cincinnati.
Norfolk & Western J class No. 606 leading the Powhatan Arrow. This was the publicity photo used to create the hand-colored postcard seen above.
Attentive service in Coach - the N & W Powhatan Arrow.
Powhatan Arrow Observation-Lounge - rear view.
Coach - the Norfolk & Western's Powhatan Arrow.
Historic Rail - Shop Now! Snake River Farms Wagyu Brisket
Powhatan Arrow drumhead

Attentive service in Coach - the N & W Powhatan Arrow.

Norfolk & Western Railway

Powhatan Arrow Observation-Lounge - rear view.

Norfolk & Western Railway

The Powhatan Arrow, N. & W. all-coach train operated between Norfolk and Cincinnati.

Norfolk & Western Railway

Powhatan Arrow Observation-Lounge - forward view.

Coach - the Norfolk & Western's Powhatan Arrow, opposite view.

Norfolk & Western Railway

A now privately owned Norfolk and Western Railway Powhatan Arrow passenger car at Hinton, WV on October 21, 2007.

A now privately owned Norfolk and Western Railway Powhatan Arrow passenger car at Hinton, WV on October 21, 2007.

By jpmueller99 [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The cars were delivered by Pullman-Standard in 1949 thus allowing the Arrow to be one of the first post-war streamliners inaugurated. They were smooth-sided and delivered in Tuscan red and black. Of the ten P3 cars, seven may still be in some type of operation. Several of these cars were used in the Norfolk Southern Steam Program. According to surviving drawings, the N&W streamlined/lightweight trains were originally supposed to be painted as follows: sides, ends and skirts "Tuscan red", roofs "dark brown" with trucks "Pullman green", and lettering/striping "gold leaf".

During the early 1950s the lettering and striping was changed to imitation (Dulux) gold, while the roofs and trucks were repainted black. The heavyweight cars were painted the same as before but did not carry train name logos or striping. After absorbing the Wabash Railroad by merger, the N&W "officially" adopted blue and yellow as passenger colors at the end of 1965. The repaints were not all done right away.

The Powhattan Arrow made its last run in 1969, two years before the end of all N&W passenger train service.

Remaining cars
P1 Class No. 501- No. 502:
No. 501 - Refurbished interior at Roanoke Shops 1982. Renumbered NS 28 on December 20, 1984.

No. 502 - Sold to Amtrak October 19, 1971. No further information.

P2 Class No. 511- No. 512:
No. 511 - Sold to Ontario Northland Railway, October 19, 1971. Reported as ONT 840. ONT 840 (EX N&W 511) listed as retired.

No. 512 - 512 is in operation and is used for events at Virginia Museum of Transportation in Roanoke but is owned by the Roanoke Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society.

P3 Class No. 531- No. 540:
No. 531 - Converted in 1982 at Roanoke Shops for excursion service; no air conditioning; installed raise window sash. 1991 sold. Donated in 1973 to Cass Scenic Railroad, Atlanta, Georgia.

No. 532 - Sold to Ontario Northland Ry October 19, 1971. Renumbered ONT 841. Listed as in service.

No. 533 - Refurbished interior at Roanoke Shops, 1982. Renumbered NS 29 by December 20, 1984.

No. 534 - Renumbered 1010 at Roanoke Shops October 3, 1975 for Chicago Commuter Service; sold to Cycle Systems, Lynchburg, Virginia, by 1993. Car is now privately owned and undergoing extensive restoration.

No. 535 - Sold to Ontario Northland Railway October 19, 1971. Renumbered ONT 842. In service.

No. 536 - Converted 1982 at Roanoke Shops for excursion service; no air conditioning; installed raise window sash. Sold February 28, 1995 to Great Smokey Mountain RR.

No. 537 - Renumbered 1009 at Roanoke Shops February 13, 1975 for Chicago Commuter Service; 1980 donated to Roanoke Chapter, NRHS. Is kept in operation by the Roanoke Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society.

No. 538 - Donated to Roanoke Chapter, NRHS, October 24, 1984. Awaiting Restoration by the Roanoke Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society.

No. 539 - Converted 1982 at Roanoke Shops for excursion service; no air conditioning; installed raise window sash. Donated to Watauga Valley NRHS, Johnson City, TN 4-91. 539 is owned by the Watauga Valley Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society. It has been refurbished and updated to Amtrak standards and has been used for many railroad excursions over the past several years.  (See above photo)

No. 540 - Converted 1982 at Roanoke Shops for excursion service; no air conditioning; installed raise window sash. Sold February 28, 1995 to Western Maryland Scenic Railroad, Cumberland, Maryland.

D1 Class No. 491- No. 494:
Dining Car No. 492 is in service with the Conway Scenic Railroad in North Conway, N.H. It is one of the feature cars of the railroad's "Notch Train", which operates through the historic Crawford Notch on a segment of the former Maine Central Railroad Mountain Division.

Dining Cars No. 493 and No. 494 are in service as part of the office car fleet of Norfolk Southern Corp.

Incidents
The Powhattan Arrow experienced at least one wreck in its career when the train went off-track in August 1947, unfortunately killing two people.

See also:

Norfolk and Western

Cavalier

Pocahontas

Named Passenger Trains