Arts & Culture

Arts and culture

Roanoke's J 611 Prepares to Return Under Her Own Steam

May 29, 2015

Roanoke is rolling out the red carpet for a locomotive tomorrow. . .but it's not just any locomotive.  The N&W Class J 611 is the only passenger locomotive of its class left in existence.  It rolled out of Roanoke's east end shops May 29th, 1950 at a cost of more than $251,000.  Now people from across the globe have contributed about $3 million to bring the 611 back to life.  It's been in Spencer, North Carolina for the past year undergoing repairs but tomorrow makes its triumphant return to the Star City.  Tomorrow's celebration at the former N&W Passenger Station is free.

Starting a restaurant is no small thing - especially in a foodie town like Richmond, but a local man has high hopes as he builds on his family tradition - mixing Asian and Southern ingredients and cooking techniques to create meals that sell for just $10.


It’s four o’clock, and 34-year-old Will Richardson is at work - pounding pork for dinner.  It’s hot in the kitchen -- noisy, and Richardson couldn’t be happier.  This is where he’s been heading since childhood, working in his grandparents Chinese restaurant in Richmond.

You’ve probably seen it in your garden, along roadways, just about everywhere: Garlic Mustard.  It’s an invasive plant that stealthily out-competes native species, threatening the diversity of forests in many parts of the country. But what if there were a recipe to change that?

They don’t call it garlic mustard for nothing. Rachel Collins is Associate Professor of Biology at Roanoke College. 

“The chemical that it’s making that smells like garlic is one of these herbivore defense chemicals like basil and all the other yummy flavors in bail and mint.”

When it comes to writing about controversial current events, sometimes fiction can go where journalism cannot.  A novel by a former journalist examines political corruption and the misdeeds of the powerful.  And while it may be a work of fiction, its author says it’s based on real events, people and places. 

“I had to change a lot of names, so I had that liberty to flesh things out, to make them larger than life and, of course, to make them dramatic.”

Laura Weeks

Speaking with people who spend their days in shelters throughout cities can yield powerful, heartbreaking, and sometimes surprising narratives. One Roanoke photojournalist did just that for a project aimed at depicting those going through a difficult time in a different light. 

"I was never the type to judge a book by its cover. I was always the book that got judged. Everyone is fighting their own battles."