My first chance to view N&W A-class 2-6-6-4 1218 was when it came north to pull a series of excursions out of Alexandria, Virginia. In previous years, on one weekend, an excursion from Alexandria to Charlottesville ran both days, and a pair of excursions to Front Royal ran the following weekend. The extreme length of the 1218 eliminated Charlottesville as a place where the excursion’s locomotive could be turned, as the C&O turntable there could not accommodate it.
The schedule was altered to be Alexandria – Charlottesville on Saturday, and Alexandria – Front Royal on Sunday on Sunday, and the reverse on the next weekend. On the Charlottesville trips, the 1218 only pulled the train one way. We started this day chasing the excursion train led by three SR FP7’s, south as far as the photo runby location at Gilbert, and then broke away in search of the A, which was coming north from Roanoke to meet the excursion train at Charlottesville. We intercepted the 1218 at Kingswood, Virginia, where I caught my first view of this magnificent locomotive.