ROANOKE, Va. — Norfolk Southern Corp. has offered a challenge grant of $1 million to the Virginia Museum of Transportation (VMT) for capital and operating expenses over a three-year period to help the museum implement certain recommendations from Museum Management Consultants. The challenge grant is contingent on equal commitments of support by both the governments of the Roanoke Region and by other private donors to meet the estimated $3 million required for the museum’s long-term needs.
Norfolk Southern also will assist museum staff in drawing up a three-year business plan and establishing measurable objectives to restore the museum’s vitality. In addition, other local rail-related organizations including the Norfolk and Western Historical Society (NWHS), the Roanoke Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society (NRHS), and the O. Winston Link Museum have offered their support for the effort.
The proposed three-year plan would implement many of the consultant’s recommendations: re-evaluating and redefining the museum’s mission, vision, and core values, and establishing priorities, accountabilities, financial milestones, and timelines. The plan would result in strategies addressing exhibits and the visitor’s experience; focusing the collection of rolling stock, documents, and artifacts; shaping the governing board to involve more leaders from the community at large; developing the professional staff; and funding for sustained operation.
In announcing the challenge grant, Norfolk Southern CEO Wick Moorman said, “We are proud of our heritage in Roanoke, and we want a museum that showcases what generations of railroad workers in Roanoke built that is still so vital to our lives today. It’s our responsibility to make sure that their contribution is never forgotten and that our history is preserved for future generations.”
VMT President Ken Lanford, president of Lanford Brothers Contractors, said, “One of the things that amazes us every day is the worldwide recognition Roanoke has with its rail heritage. Visitors from all over the world come to see Class J 611 and Class A 1218 all the time. With this wonderful investment by Norfolk Southern, coupled with funds from local government and our private sector, the museum will be a world-class destination for rail enthusiasts and historians. What an opportunity for us to showcase the rail heritage of one of the world’s best-known rail centers, where citizens of this Valley, the talented employees of Norfolk and Western Railway, made the world’s best steam locomotives. We are so very grateful to Mr. Moorman and Norfolk Southern for this incredible vote of support and encouragement.”
Bev Fitzpatrick, executive director of the museum, said, “One of the most significant developments in this effort is the wonderful partnering with the NWHS, the Roanoke Chapter of the NRHS and the VMT. These groups are working together with the Link Museum to develop a destination focus for rail history in Roanoke that will bring tourists from all over the world. These partners have an incredible number of knowledgeable individuals who, working together, will really make a difference as the focus on the Roanoke rail experience grows.”
The Virginia Museum of Transportation is Virginia’s official transportation museum as designated by the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia. It is one of the largest rail museums in the United States with a varied collection of rail equipment, including the world-famous Class J 611 and Class A 1218 steam locomotives.