Posts Tagged ‘Nickel Plate Road’

Streamliner Chase Covered 2 Days, 1,000 Miles

June 2, 2014
First glimpse of the streamliner ferry  move at Ogden Dunes, Ind.

First glimpse of the streamliner ferry move at Ogden Dunes, Ind.

Over the Memorial Day weekend I chased one of the Spencer streamliner ferry moves for two days and more than 1,000 miles.

I was unable to attend the streamliner festival at the North Carolina Transportation Museum in Spencer and but I really wanted to see the Nickel Plate Road painted PA1. My only chance to get it would be to catch the transport move.

We left Cleveland a little after 6 a.m. and headed toward Chicago. The goal was to catch a move consisting of Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Silver Pilot, the Chicago & North Western F7 No. 411 and Soo Line FP7 No. 2500.

This consist would then pick up NKP PA1 No. 190 at Elkhart and continue east and south for Spencer.

The problem was we didn’t know which route it would take east of Elkhart. There were several possibilities and the railfan community didn’t seem to know for sure.

In fact there were some lively discussions to this effect. The two most likely routes were (A) Toledo-Bellevue-Portsmouth or (B) Elkhart-Richmond-Cincinnati.

The special move left Chicago around 9 a.m. and promptly got stuck in traffic.  The Norfolk Southern mainline was a virtual parking lot between Chicago and Toledo.

This had even delayed the Capitol Limited which took more than four hours to get between Toledo and Elkhart.

We headed for the state line and had almost gotten there when the train started moving.  The Silver Pilot conveniently had a GPS, which made chasing fairly simple or rather knowing where the train was. But chasing it turned out to be anything but simple.

We first caught it at Odgen Dunes, Ind., and followed the train to Elkhart where it arrived around 7 p.m.

I had hoped that it would be well east of Elkhart before dark, which would let us know for certain which route it would take.

But after several hours it was obvious the train would not be moving soon. We got a hotel room and hoped the streamliner ferry move would remain overnight as well.

Waking up Sunday morning, we received a shock, to put it mildly.

The train that had taken 10 hours to move about 100 miles had left Elkhart after midnight and was now just north of Bellevue.

I had calculated – wrongly – that even if this occurred it would only get as far as Toledo, if that.  We had a play but had to hurry.  In short order we were on the freeway heading back to Ohio.

Knowing where the train was – the GPS tracker was working perfectly — spurred us on.

We gained ground on it, hoping it would be delayed along the way.

It stopped in a yard in Columbus but was on the move just as we hit the city limits.  By the time it got to Portsmouth we were only 10 miles behind.

The train changed crews and we picked a spot east of the yard. And then nothing happened.

The streamliner ferry move sat for an hour so we backtracked and were able to get photos in the yard from the employee parking area. Unlike at Elkhart the special wasn’t buried in the middle of the yard.

Another railfan from Cincinnati had also chased and was taking photos.  He related how an “expert” friend of his told him the special would be routed from Columbus through Cincinnati. So much for that speculation.

Finally, the special got on the move and we caught it one last time.

On the way to Indiana we also chased late running Amtrak trains.  We would catch the Lake Shore Limited two more times and even the Capitol Limited west of South Bend.  That was an amazing feat considering that No. 29 had left Toledo before we had left Cleveland.

Article and Photographs by Todd Dillon

Ducking beneath a New York Central signal bridge at Elkhart, Ind.

Ducking beneath a New York Central signal bridge at Elkhart, Ind.







A very late Lake Shore Limited arrives in Toledo.

A very late Lake Shore Limited arrives in Toledo.

Group Seeks to Move NKP Caboose to Vermilion

April 19, 2014

A preservation group is seeking donations to help restore a former Nickel Plate Road caboose that it wants to move to Vermilion, Ohio, for display.

NKP caboose 1155 is currently housed at the Meadowcroft Museum in Avella, Pa. The non-profit group Friends of Harbour Town wants to display the caboose next to the Nickel Plate station in Vermilion, which is also part of a restoration effort.

The caboose was built in 1909 by American Car & Foundry andit has been on display in various sites since being retired from active service in the 1963.

The group is seeking to raise $5,500 to cover the cost of moving the caboose by truck to Ohio.
Once moved to Vermilion, the preservation group plans to place a roof over the caboose with one or two sides closed to protect it from weather

Minor car body repairs need to be made and the caboose will be repainted into NKP colors. If additional funding can be found, the caboose will receive retro refits with such components as composite arch bar trucks, K-style air brakes, marker lights, older MCB couplers and end steps built to the original plan.

The group said it needs to raise the money by May 30 to avoid the caboose being destroyed.
Those wishing to make a donation can do so by clicking on the link below: … /x/6966810

If Only They Were Real

February 21, 2014
An Alco PA (left) and RS11 pose at the mouth of the tunnel on the HO model railroad layout of Edward Ribinskas.

An Alco PA (left) and RS11 pose at the mouth of the tunnel on the HO model railroad layout of Edward Ribinskas.

Although I grew up in east central Illinois just 10 miles or so from the Nickel Plate Road’s St. Louis line, I never saw a NKP train. I occasionally saw the tracks, but that was it.

Most of my eyewitness sightings of NKP rolling stock have been at the Mad River & NKP Museum in Bellevue.

For one evening on a recent Sunday, though, the Nickel Plate came back to life. I had spent the afternoon with Marty Surdyk and Edward Ribinskas railfaning in Lake County. During the day we spotted four Norfolk Southern trains on the former NKP Chicago-Buffalo mainline.

That evening at Ed’s house, he brought out some of his NKP motive power fleet. Powering a coal train were an RS11 and an RS36. Pulling a manifest freight was a NKP “Blue Bird.”

In real life, the NKP PA locomotives pulled passenger trains, including a pair of trains that operated Cleveland and St. Louis.

But on a model railroad, you can create any parallel universe that you desire. And you can make anything from the past come alive again.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

The "Blue Bird" climbs a grade on a trestle as the coal train is about to pass below.

The “Blue Bird” climbs a grade on a trestle as the coal train is about to pass below.


By the time Penn Central came along in 1968, the Nickel Plate had been merged into the Norfolk & Western and the “Blue Birds” were long gone. But anything is possible on a model railroad layout.

No train runs on Ed's layout without a caboose.

No train runs on Ed’s layout without a caboose.

Head end and rear end align near the entrance to the tunnel.

Head end and rear end align near the entrance to the tunnel.

NKP Sentinels Still Standing–For Now

May 8, 2013
NS 307 passes a red barn just east of the mixing center in Fostoria.

NS 307 passes a red barn just east of the mixing center in Fostoria.

I had to attend a meeting in Ft Wayne this past weekend in preparation for working all the upcoming trips involving Nickel Plate Road steam locomotive No. 765.

I drove out on Friday after work and decided to take the side roads that follow the former NKP main west of Fostoria.

I did the same on the return trip, so here are a few photos taken along the way. Although I didn’t see any new signal bases, the bracket mast that was at Payne last August had been replaced, so I’m sure in due time all will fall.

Article and Photographs by Roger Durfee

Same 307 at East North Findlay.

Same 307 at East North Findlay.

Probably my favorite photo from this weekend, local L7N takes siding at Miller City.

Probably my favorite photo from this weekend, local L7N takes siding at Miller City.

That little delay allowed a jump west to Continental.

That little delay allowed a jump west to Continental.

Westbound coke train at Payne.

Westbound coke train at Payne.

Roadrailer 261 at east North Findlay.

Roadrailer 261 at east North Findlay.

It wasn't all about NKP signals. This eastbound is framed by a B&O cantilever and an abandoned tower at Leipsic.

It wasn’t all about NKP signals. This eastbound is framed by a B&O cantilever and an abandoned tower at Leipsic.

CSX got stabbed at Mortimer with a signal failure.

CSX got stabbed at Mortimer with a signal failure.

The conductor "pushes the button" in the emergency box to clear the signals.

The conductor “pushes the button” in the emergency box to clear the signals.

CSX departs and across the former NKP diamonds.

CSX departs and across the former NKP diamonds.

Last car clears the diamonds as an old NKP dwarf signal protects the NS line.

Last car clears the diamonds as an old NKP dwarf signal protects the NS line.

Indiana Weekends Two Decades Apart

October 4, 2012

An eastbound empty hopper train passes the North Findlay mast. The signals were installed many years ago by the Nickel Plate Road.

When I opened my email box early Thursday morning I was greeted with back-to-back messages from Akron Railroad Club members Roger Durfee and Todd Dillon with photographs from their respective trips to Indiana.

Roger had spent last weekend at an open house of the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society. The group is better known as the owners of Nickel Plate Road steam locomotive No. 765.

He had planned his trip to make it a NKP sojourn by following the former NKP mainline from Bellevue to New Haven, Ind., where the 765 is based.

Todd, on the other hand, dipped into his archives to recall a 1999 fall weekend that he spent in Indiana — a state in which he once lived — and came upon an obscure shortline then known as the Fulton County Railroad. It operated between Rochester and Argos, where it connected with the former NKP mainline now owned by Norfolk Southern.

This is a former Lake Erie & Western line that extended between Indianapolis and Michigan City, Ind. The LE&W later was absorbed by the Nickel Plate. Portions of this Michigan City-Indianapolis route have been abandoned, but much of it still exists. Indeed, the southern end of the route is used by another Nickel Plate Road steam locomotive, the 587, which is based at the Indiana Transportation Museuum in Noblesville.

To view a gallery of photographs from Roger’s trip, click on the link below.

To read Todd’s article and view a galley of photographs of his chase of the Fulton County Railroad’s Alco locomotive, click on the link below.

In the meantime, here is a sample of the photographs taken by Roger and Todd.

Article by Craig Sanders

Three volunteers hold their coal shovels high after a hard day of work.

The view out of the 765 fireman’s window looking down the boiler as a full moon rises in the east.

New App Helps Land NS Heritage Unit

September 10, 2012

I bagged Norfolk Southern’s  Norfolk & Western heritage locomotive this weekend and here are some pictures and a story.

Using a new app that will tell you what NS heritage units are within a certain radius from where you are at (say 100 miles), we were able to chase down and get the N&W 8103 on Saturday.

The app said that it had been spotted at Sandusky about two hours earlier, the time being 1 p.m.). So we loaded up and went to find it.

We checked to no avail several logical places, including the north end of the yard, the docks and the former New York Central local yard.

We then checked the south end of the former Pennsylvania Railroad yards and found the 8103 sitting out in the open. It was a successful trip using Internet reports.

However, not all Internet reports can be trusted. The same app also said that the Lackawanna heritage locomotive was on the former Nickel Plate Road in Pennsylvania heading to Buffalo.

If true it would have traversed Cleveland about 9 a.m., yet there were no sightings or reports here.

Well that was because the Lackawanna unit was sitting at Roanoke. Va., Somone had misposted its location, which they corrected later, but such is the problem with Intenet posts.

Article and Photographs by Todd Dillon

Clover Leaf Memories

September 8, 2012

Former C&O Alco S-4 No. 5109 is trackside of the TLE&W Clover Leaf depot in Waterville, Ohio, Sept. 3, 2012. (Photograph by Richard Jacobs)

Akron Railroad Club member Richard Jacobs went searching for a bit of the past over the Labor Day weekend when he visited the Toledo, Lake Erie & Western Museum in Waterville, Ohio. He was hoping to ride on one of the museum’s excursion trains, but arrived to find the 2012 excursion season had been cancelled.

Instead Jake spent some time exploring the history of the Clover Leaf, the nickname of the Toledo, St. Louis & Western Railroad. The Clover Leaf was absorbed by the Nickel Plate Road in 1922.

To read Jake’s article and view a gallery of photograhs, click on the link below.

Gray Lady Visits Northeast Ohio

September 1, 2012

Norfolk Southern heritage locomotive 8025 leads westbound train No. 205 over the former Nickel Plate Trestle in Cleveland on Saturday morning, Sept. 1, 2012. The locomotive pays tribute to the Monongahela Railroad.

Norfolk Southern’s Monongahela Railroad heritage locomotive passed through Northeast Ohio on Saturday morning (Sept. 1, 2012) on the head of train 205, a westbound intermodal.

The locomotive had passed through the area eastward earlier in the week and, as expected, it turned and came back west from New York State.

The 8025 is unusual in that it was not among the original batch of heritage locomotives that NS announced earlier this year. It also is the only heritage locomotive that was not ordered new with the intention of being a heritage locomotive.

Instead, the 8025 was an existing locomotive that was painted into the Monongahela livery.

I went out to chase the train with my friend Adam Barr. We first caught up with it at Abby Road in Cleveland just west of the trestle over the Flats on the NS Cleveland District (former Nickel Plate Road). There was a crowd of photographers here including Akron Railroad Club member Roger Durfee.

We easily caught up with train 205 at Olmsted Falls but had a hard time catching it west of there. Our initial plan to get the train at Bay Bridge west of Sandusky didn’t work.  It was crossing the bridge and causeway as we arrived on nearby U.S. Route 2. We settled for a crossing west of Port Clinton. By then the weather had deteriorated considerably to cloudy and overcast.

After photographing the 205, we went into Port Clinton for a late lunch and shot a few more trains at Bay Bridge.

Photographs by Craig Sanders

Bridges, bridges everywhere. The NS 8025 passes through a maze of bridges in the Cleveland Flats.

Heading west on Track 2 at Olmsted Falls after a crew change at Rockport Yard.

Cruising along Three Mile Crossing Road west of Port Clinton.

Insider View of NS Employee Specials

August 29, 2012

A view of the train at CP Wood near Pittsburgh. (Photographs by Roger Durfee).

Roger Durfee may be the only Akron Railroad Club member who actually rode one of the Norfolk Southern employee specials pulled by Nickel Plate Road No. 765. A conductor based out of Motor Yard in Macedonia, Roger rode the roundtrip of Aug. 12, 2012, between Conway Yard and the wye at Homewood.

To view a gallery of photographs of what the train looked like from the inside,  click on the link below.

Jeff and Ed’s NKP 765 Chase

August 25, 2012

Akron Railkroad Club members were out in force on Aug. 21, 2012, to photograph the ferry move of Nickel Plate Road 765 from Pittsburgh (Conway Yard) to Belleveue. The venerable Berkshire had pulled a series of employee appreciation specials in Pittsburgh and Harrisburg and was returning to its based in New Haven, Ind.

Among those who were trackside were Jeff Troutman and Edward Ribinskas. Along with a friend, they tailed the 765 between Canton and Bellevue, making intermediate photo stops in Wooster, Mansfield, Crestline and along Ohio Route 4 north of Bucyrus.

Ed said that he did considerable homework before the trip to choose photo locations. In some instances, they arrived on the scene shortly ahead of the 765 and its train.

Jeff sent along a selection of the photographs that he recorded.

Photographs by Jeff Troutman


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 59 other followers