For better or worse, 2017 is the year of the Nickel Plate Road

Posted by Brian Schmidt
on Thursday, August 03, 2017

It's not often that the legacy of a fallen flag, now gone almost 53 years, is so readily apparent. And yet, here in 2017, the late, lamented Nickel Plate Road is front and center in railroad news. As an Ohio native, I'm taking some extra interest in these developments.

FOR THE BETTER:

Former Nickel Plate Road 2-8-2 No. 624 will move from its longtime home of Hammond, Ind., across the state to join 2-8-4 No. 765 at the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society. Prep work is complete and the locomotive will move east by truck in late August. The group will perform a cosmetic restoration on the locomotive while also performing an inspection for a possible future return to operation. The work, sponsored by an unnamed private donor, will be performed elsewhere due to space constraints, however. (Photo courtesy FWRHS)

And speaking of perennial favorite No. 765, the locomotive powered two days of high-profile excursions over Chicago area commuter railroad Metra in late June. The trips ran from Joliet to the downtown LaSalle Street Station, which, in a previous life, hosted the Nickel Plate's passenger trains in the Windy City. It will also appear on Aug. 18-20 at the group's Fort Wayne-area open house, and Sept. 16-17 and 23-24 on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad near Cleveland, Ohio.

Former Nickel Plate 2-8-4 No. 757 will move from the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania to the Mad River & NKP Railroad Museum in Bellevue, Ohio, following a $250,000 fundraising campaign. The locomotive was earmarked for display in Bellevue back in the 1960s, but instead went to Pennsylvania when the city had trouble securing funding for its move. The locomotive was, of course, constructed just 75 miles from Bellevue at the Lima Locomotive Works and regularly operated through the northern Ohio city that was also home to a major Nickel Plate Road yard. (Photo courtesy Mad River & NKP Railroad Museum)

Finally, former Nickel Plate SD9 No. 358 is undergoing restoration at the Fort Wayne group's shop this summer. The projects, which was announce in late 2016, will restore the locomotive’s cosmetic appearance as it ran on the Nickel Plate and, eventually, return it to operation. (Photo courtesy FWRHS)

FOR THE WORSE:

Also in Indiana, it seems we will soon lose a former Nickel Plate route north of Indianapolis, famous for trains to the state fair. Officials in Fishers, Noblesville, and Hamilton County have agreed to contract with the ironically named "Nickel Plate Heritage Railroad" to operation the northern portion of the disputed rail line; the southern portion, through the communities named, will be turned in to a recreation trail, leaving the nearby Indiana Transportation Museum without a rail connection. The museum has a Nickel Plate-painted F unit in its collection, a combination that never existed "in the real world," but nonetheless was a staple on the state fair trains for years. The line was once part of the Lake Erie & Western, a road that became part of the Nickel Plate system in 1923. (Photo by Don Nickle)

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