Train 25 left Norfolk Terminal Station at 7:00 am, and made the 565 mile run to Portsmouth, Ohio in 12 hours, 50 minutes. The remaining 111.6 miles to Cincinnati Union Terminal took nearly 3 hours as the train performed all the local work on that stretch of line.
The motive power for the Powhatan Arrow was built by the Roanoke Shops of Norfolk and Western located in Roanoke, Virginia. The train was given its name from a name submission contest offered by Norfolk and Western, the winner of which was Mr. Leonard Allen Scott of Dry Branch, Virginia. His entry (among over 140,000) was sent out in the last sack of mail picked up by the mail train in Parrott the day of the deadline for postmarks. The Arrow made its maiden run on April 28, 1946 and quickly became one of the most popular of Norfolk and Western's passenger trains. It and its J-class powered companions traveled approximately 15,000 miles per month and may have traveled nearly three million miles in its lifetime.
Background and class history
Among the most famous steam power of the N&W were the Class "J" 4-8-4 steam locomotives. They were the pride of the N&W, pulling crack passenger trains such as the Cavalier, the Pocahontas, and the Powhatan Arrow, as well as ferrying the Southern Railway's Tennessean and Pelican between Monroe, Virginia and Bristol, Tennessee. On a test on the Pennsylvania Railroad, a "J" achieved 110 mph with a ten car, 1050-ton train along one section of flat, straight track in Pennsylvania. This was remarkable performance for a 70-inch drivered reciprocating steam locomotive. But, the only time the "J"s were able to do anything like that on N&W rails was on the Eastern portion of the line, between Petersburg and Norfolk. The average speed of the Arrow between Norfolk and Cincinnati, with much of the route through the mountains, was only about 43 mph. The 'J's were numbered from 600 through 613, and were built in three groups from 1941 to 1950, and the only surviving member of this famous class of locomotives is 611, currently on display at the Virginia Museum of Transportation in Roanoke, Virginia, only a few hundred yards West along the old N&W main line from her birthplace.
In April, 1946 the N&W ordered sufficient passenger cars to re-equip the Powhattan Arrow completely and the Pocohontas partially. The consist for the new Powhattan Arrow included two 48-seat coaches with crew room (P1 class, #501 and #502), two 66-seat divided coaches (P2 class, #511 and #512), ten 56-seat coaches (P3 class #531–540), four 36-seat dining cars (D1 class, #491–494), and two lounge-tavern-observation cars (P4 class, #581 and #582). Some of the P3 and two of the D1 cars were for the Pocohantas.
The cars were delivered by Pullman-Standard in 1949 thus allowing the Arrow to be one of the first post-war streamliners inaugurated. They were smooth-sided and delivered in Tuscan Red & Black. Of the ten P3 cars, seven may still be in some type of operation. #539 is owned by the Watauga Valley Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society. It has been refurbished and updated to Amtrak standards and has been used for many Railroad excursions over the past several years. Several of these cars were used in the Norfolk Southern Steam Program. According to surviving drawings, the N&W streamlined/lightweight trains were originally supposed to be painted as follows: sides, ends and skirts "Tuscan Red," roofs "Dark Brown," with trucks "Pullman Green," and lettering/striping "Gold Leaf".
During the early 1950s the lettering and striping was changed to imitation (Dulux) gold, while the roofs and trucks were repainted black. The heavyweight cars were painted the same as before but did not carry train name logos or striping. After absorbing the Wabash Railroad via merger, the N&W "officially" adopted blue and yellow as passenger colors at the end of 1965. The repaints were not all done right away.
The Powhattan Arrow made its last run in 1969, two years before the end of all N&W passenger train service.
The Powhattan Arrow did experience at least one wreck in its career. The train went off-track, killing two people in August of 1947. 
- N&W October 27, 1957 Timetable, p. 14
- N&W October 27, 1957 Timetable, p. 15
- The Virginia Museum of Transportation. "The Virginia Museum of Transportation, Inc.". Archived from the original on 2007-05-21. Retrieved 2007-06-05.
- McCall, C. A. "Norfolk & Western Railway Company". Retrieved 2006-11-03.
- "N&W Passenger Cars". Bachmann Forum. Retrieved 2006-11-03.[dead link]
- "Norfolk and Western Historical Society Vol 7 No 2".
- Jeffries, Lewis. Norfolk and Western – Giant of Steam.
- Prince, William. Norfolk and Western – Pocahontas Coal Carrier.
- Warden, William E. (1990). Norfolk & Western Passenger Service, 1946–1971. Lynchburg, Virginia: TLC Publishing, Inc. ISBN 0-9622003-3-6. LCCN 9090084.
- Norfolk and Western Railway, (October 27, 1957). Passenger Timetable, Table 1 p. 6, Table 11 pp. 14–15.