Mission Statement

The goal of the Norfolk and Western Historical Society, Inc. is to preserve the history of the Norfolk and Western and Virginian railroads. As a non-profit organization, the group is established by the 501(c)(3) provisions of the Internal Revenue Service codes. The organization has no affiliation with, sponsorship, or support of the Norfolk and Western Railway or Norfolk Southern Corporation.


The Society was organized in 1984 by Rick Stone and a small group of interested individuals to provide a structured way to capture and share the history of the Norfolk and Western and Virginian Railways. Stone served as President and Editor of the bi-monthly Society newsletter. The group's early efforts focused on publishing the mimeographed newsletter and an annual membership convention. These conventions were held in cities on the original N&W mainline. Convention programs included a modeling contest, modeling clinics, and tours of railroad facilities in the area when possible. By 1990, membership had grown to approximately 500 members. Starting in 1985, the Society began a calendar publication program. The calendar program marked the first step in developing a sales program that has grown and flourished.

During the 1990s, Jim Gillum assumed leadership responsibilities as Society's President and diligently led the Archives' effort. The Arrow became a glossy paper publication in 1991, the first of many steps in continually upgrading the quality—today's capabilities of digital printing place the journal among the finest of its type.

Efforts to improve the Society's financial condition have been ongoing. The leadership felt that available funds needed to grow to improve the ability to preserve and make available the history of the Norfolk and Western and Virginian. Success in this area allowed the establishment of a permanent archives program in 1994. This collection, based in Roanoke, Virginia, now represents a valuable repository of drawings, photographs, and documents on the history of the two railroads and other related roads. As of May 1, 2023, 29 years after formation, there are over 215,000 items cataloged and more added monthly.

The Society is actively engaged in the publication of books and booklets related to the railroads. The Society has published many original works - Cabooses Of The Norfolk And Western, Norfolk & Western's Shenandoah Valley Line, Norfolk and Western Electrics, The Norfolk and Western… As I Knew It!, N&W Giant of Steam, Revised Edition and N&W Class A, The Mercedes of Steam, revised edition, and most recently, Norfolk and Western Six-Eleven, Three Times a Lady, Revised Edition. The Society has also published many reprints of original material from the N&W and Virginian. Various materials, including drawings and photographs from the archives, have also been reproduced and made available to Society members. The mechanical drawings also greatly assisted the restoration of famed Class J, No. 611, in 2014-2015.


The Society has roughly 1000 members from almost every state and many foreign countries. About 30% are Sustaining Members contributing an additional $30.00 each year to the preservation program. Work progresses to catalog the archives collection into a database for ease of reference and research. The Commissary sales program results show steady gains with an ever-expanding selection of related products. The Arrow continues to be a high-quality publication that is well-received. Changes on the railroad brought about by consolidations in the railroad industry represent an urgent challenge in preserving N&W and Virginian history. Many documents, photographs, and files have already been lost, destroyed, or scattered; acquiring and safeguarding what remains becomes even more critical. To this point, the Society is working on several fronts to obtain material for the archives collection.


The long-term objective of the Society is to be a primary source for historical information on the Norfolk and Western and Virginian railroads. This objective covers all the readily identifiable areas of interest; publications, model production, and historical research. The Society adds artifacts to the archives collection of drawings, photographs, and documents as space allows. The Society works with other like-minded groups towards preservation. Still, the leadership felt that accumulating more significant artifacts, such as rolling stock, is best left to groups more experienced and prepared to deal with this type of activity.