Virginia Museum of Transportation

The Virginia Museum of Transportation is a museum devoted to the topic of transportation located in Downtown Roanoke, Virginia, US.

Virginia Museum of Transportation
Virginia Museum of Transportation is located in the United States
Virginia Museum of Transportation
Location within the United States
EstablishedApril 1986 (1986-04)
LocationRoanoke, Virginia
Coordinates37°16′23″N 79°56′50″W / 37.272943°N 79.947231°W / 37.272943; -79.947231
TypeTransport museum
WebsiteOfficial website
Norfolk and Western Railway Freight Station
Virginia Museum of Transportation is located in Virginia
Virginia Museum of Transportation
Virginia Museum of Transportation is located in the United States
Virginia Museum of Transportation
Location303 Norfolk Ave, Roanoke, Virginia
Coordinates37°16′23″N 79°56′46″W / 37.27306°N 79.94611°W / 37.27306; -79.94611Coordinates: 37°16′23″N 79°56′46″W / 37.27306°N 79.94611°W / 37.27306; -79.94611
Area57.7 acres (23.4 ha)
Builtc. 1918 (1918)
Built byNorfolk and Western Railway
NRHP reference No.12000969[1]
Significant dates
Added to NRHPNovember 21, 2012
Designated VLRSeptember 20, 2012[2]


The Virginia Museum of Transportation began its life in 1963 as the Roanoke Transportation Museum located in Wasena Park in Roanoke, Virginia. The museum at that time was housed in an old Norfolk & Western Railway freight depot on the banks of the Roanoke River. The earliest components of the museum's collection included a United States Army Jupiter rocket and the N&W J Class Locomotive #611, donated by Norfolk & Western Railway to the City of Roanoke where many of its engines were constructed. The museum expanded its collection to include other pieces of rail equipment such as a former DC Transit PCC streetcar, and a number of horse-drawn vehicles including a hearse, a covered wagon, and a Studebaker wagon.

In November 1985, a flood nearly destroyed the museum, and much of its collection. It forced the shutdown of the facility and the refurbishment of #611. In April 1986, the museum re-opened in the Norfolk and Western Railway Freight Station in downtown Roanoke as the Virginia Museum of Transportation. The museum has earned that title, being recognized by the General Assembly of Virginia as the Commonwealth's official transportation museum.

The Norfolk & Western steam locomotives No. 611 and No. 1218 were originally property of the city of Roanoke due to the museum's original charter. On the April 2, 2012, VMT's 50 Birthday, the city officially gave the locomotives to the museum.[3]

The Norfolk and Western Railway Freight Station was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2012.[1] The station consists of two clearly identifiable sections, both of which were completed in 1918. They are the two-story, fifty-bay-long, freight station proper which was built parallel to the railroad tracks and now is oriented south, and the one-story-with-basement brick annex that formerly housed the offices of the Shenandoah and Radford divisions of the Norfolk and Western. The building closed for railroad freight business in 1964.[4]

Galleries and exhibitsEdit

Automobile galleryEdit

  • Auto Gallery
This exhibit features many automobiles from the early part of the 20th century to more recent vehicles. The oral history display, "Driving Lessons," features stories from individuals associated with car culture.

Many of the museum's antique automobiles are on display here as well. The museum also features occasional special exhibits such as the Hollywood Star Cars exhibit which showcased famous cars from the history of television and movies.[5]

Railroad exhibitsEdit

On-going exhibits cover sundry aspects of railroad life in America, especially Virginia. In addition to these on-going exhibits, the museum maintains an O-Gauge train layout modeled after Roanoke, Salem, and Lynchburg, Virginia.

  • The Claytor Brothers - Virginians Building America's Railroad
Detailing the lives of Graham and Robert Claytor, this exhibit explores their past and their relationship that led to the merger of the Norfolk & Western and Southern Railways.
  • From Cotton to Silk: African American Railroad Workers on the Norfolk & Western and Norfolk Southern Railways
This exhibit is the result of an oral history project sponsored in part by Roanoke area businesses and individuals to document the often-ignored roles played by African-Americans on the rails. The exhibit includes pictures, artifacts, and recorded interviews with African-Americans who worked for the railroad.
  • Big Lick
This exhibit reproduces a 1930s rural train depot, featuring freight scales, a telegrapher's office, time tables, and a velocipede hand car used for servicing track. A brief history of the N&W Freight Station, the home of the VMT, is also included in this space

Aviation galleryEdit

  • Wings Over Virginia
This exhibit features the history of aviation, particularly as it pertains to the Commonwealth of Virginia. The oral history exhibit, "Flight Talk," features stories from aviation personnel who span the history of flight from the early days into modern aviation and space exploration


From January 20, 2011 to May 3, the museum was home to Chesapeake and Ohio 614 as part of the museum's Thoroughbreds of Steam exhibit. Other 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 United States Bill of Rights in 1991.

Rolling stockEdit

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. Some exhibits may be closed to the public as restoration is in progress on some pieces. While most of the railyard is ADA-accessible to view the rolling stock, entry into the pieces are not as they were built long before the standards of 1990. Some of the museum's collection needs heavy restoration and is stored offsite on a track allowed by Norfolk Southern.




Freight carsEdit

  • Amoco Oil ARA 111 Tank Car AMOX #9465
  • Depressed Center Flat Car APWX #1002
  • RF&P Boxcar #2305
  • Trailer Train Flatcar with Sea Land Containers #470534
  • Derrick Tender Flatcar # 590374 and Derrick #514925[9]
  • Virginian Railway Hopper Car #107768, stored offsite.
  • Steam Crane #527665 with Boom Car #514902, stored offsite.
  • Conrail Crane and Boom Car, stored offsite.

Passenger carsEdit

  • Illinois Terminal "President One" Business Car
  • Norfolk and Western Baggage Car #1418
  • Norfolk Southern MOW Dining Car #999000
  • Southern Pullman Sleeping Car "Lake Pearl" # 2422
  • Southern Coach "W. Graham Claytor, Jr." Car #1070[10]
  • Norfolk and Western Jim Crow Car #1662, stored offsite


  • Norfolk and Western Class CF #518302 (Can be rented for Birthday parties)
  • Virginian Class C-10 #321
  • Nickel Plate Class C-7 Bay Window #470[11]

Other unique rolling stockEdit

  • Norfolk & Western Dynamometer Car #514780
  • Norfolk & Western M-1 Post Office Car #93
  • Norfolk & Western Safety Instruction Car #418. A Theatre car that shows a 1983 documentary produced by Norfolk Southern titled "Going Home" about the restoration of the N&W 611.[12]
  • Norfolk & Western Tool Car #9647
  • Norfolk Southern Research Car #31[11]

Automobile collectionEdit


  • Oldsmobile Curved Dash (1904)
  • Piedmont Touring Car (1923)
  • Ford Model T Depot Hack (1925)
  • Willys-Overland Whippet (1928)
  • Cadillac Fleetwood Coupe (1936)
  • Siebert Ford Combo Ambulance/Hearse (1936)
  • Packard Super Eight (1948)
  • Studebaker Land Cruiser (1950)
  • Studebaker President Speedster (1955)
  • DeSoto Fireflight Sportsman (1957)
  • Studebaker Lark (1962)
  • Chevrolet Impala (1963)
  • Chevrolet Corvair Monza (1965)
  • Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme SX (1970)
  • Volkswagen Beetle (1972) -COMING SOON
  • Mercedes-Benz 450 SL (1976)
  • DMC DeLorean (1981)
  • Ford Mustang GLX Convertible (1983)
  • DuPont Chevrolet Monte Carlo (1993). A Jeff Gordon car from the 2003 Warner Brothers movie Looney Tunes: Back in Action.[13]


  • Ford Pickup Truck (1929)
  • Overnite B-Model Mack Tractor (1960) and Fruehauf Trailer, on loan from UPS Corporation.
  • Concord Fire Department Oren Fire Truck
  • Dodge Cab Over Truck
  • Jeep Oren Industrial Fire Truck[14]
  • 1962 GMC Arlington Barcroft & Washington No. 1319 New Look Bus, on Loan from Commonwealth Coach and Trolley Museum.

Other road vehiclesEdit

  • Extended Roof Rockaway Carriage
  • Studebaker Half-Platform Wagon (1870)
  • Howe Fire Engine (1882)
  • James Cunningham, Son and Company Hearse (1895)
  • Freight Wagon "Prairie Schooner" (1900-1915)
  • F-20 McCormick-Deering Farmall Tractor (1936)
  • Federal Aviation Administration Tucker Sno-Cat[15]

Aviation collectionEdit

The museum is currently seeking exhibits for their aviation gallery while it is under construction.


  1. ^ a b "National Register of Historic Places Listings". Weekly List of Actions Taken on Properties. National Park Service. November 30, 2012. Retrieved November 21, 2016.
  2. ^ "Virginia Landmarks Register". Virginia Department of Historic Resources. Archived from the original on September 21, 2013. Retrieved November 21, 2016.
  3. ^ "Virginia Museum Of Transportation". Retrieved November 21, 2016.
  4. ^ Geoffrey B. Henry (April 2012). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory/Nomination: Norfolk and Western Railway Freight Station" (PDF). Virginia Department of Historic Resources. and Accompanying six photos
  5. ^ Becky Mickel (June 23, 2011). "Star Cars: Star City Motor Madness returns to Roanoke". Archived from the original on February 1, 2013. Retrieved June 30, 2011.
  6. ^ Steam locomotives
  7. ^ Electric locomotives
  8. ^ Diesel locomotives
  9. ^ Rail freight cars
  10. ^ Passenger car collection
  11. ^ a b Caboose collection
  12. ^ Safety instruction car
  13. ^ Automobile collection
  14. ^ Trucks
  15. ^ Other road vehicles

External linksEdit