Posts Tagged ‘NKP 765’

Anticipation of a Trip 20 Years in the Making

July 15, 2014




I arrived at the Thunderbowl Lanes in Allen Park, Mich., just before 7 a.m. on Sunday. I had a ticket to ride the Detroit Arrow, an excursion train to Fort Wayne, Ind., that would be pulled by Nickel Plate Road No. 765.

It would be the second time I’d seen the big Berkshire in a week, having photographed it the Sunday before as it pulled a Norfolk Southern employee appreciation special from Detroit to Toledo.

There was no sign of a train on the nearby tracks, which once belonged to the Wabash. I was here to get some new mileage, enjoy a trip and make up for a failure that occurred 20 years ago this month.

In 1994, the Blue Water Michigan chapter of the National Railway Historical Society sponsored a trip from Detroit to Fort Wayne behind Norfolk & Western No. 611. By the time I sent them a check to order a ticket the trip was sold out.

I was disappointed, but vowed to order my ticket earlier next year. But next year never came. NS scrapped the steam program later in 1994 and sent the 611 off to pasture in a museum in Roanoke.

The years passed and I stuffed the trip that never was into a mental file drawer.

When the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society announced plans earlier this year to operate two Detroit-Fort Wayne trips, I was immediately interested.

Much has changed since then, but I still wanted the opportunity to ride the rails once traveled by the Wabash Cannon Ball. Now you order tickets on line and that is what I did.

It was nearly 7:30 when smoke and steam in the distance heralded the imminent arrival of the 765 and its train. The 765 put on a bit of show as it weaved its way out of Oakwood Yard and through a series of crossovers. It would be my only opportunity to get head-on shots of the locomotive in action.

The trip that had been 20 years in the making was about to begin. I was not disappointed this time.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Steamy Sunday

July 7, 2014




It may have been midday in July, but the weather was quite pleasant. With mostly sunny skies, low humidity and warm temperatures, it was a good day to go chase a steam locomotive.

Nickel Plate Road No. 765 was pulling an employee appreciation special from Detroit to Toledo and return. The big Berkshire ran on Saturday and Sunday. Next week, it will pull public excursions between Detroit and Fort Wayne, Ind.

My friend Adam and I made our way up to Michigan on Sunday to catch the 765 coming south. We don’t know the territory that well so we settled on setting up at Vienna Road, a few miles south of Monroe.  The NS tracks here run parallel to a Canadian National Line that is the former Detroit Toledo Shore Line.

The NS tracks are former New York Central. At one time, the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern, and the Michigan Central each had their own routes between Toledo and Detroit. Those were subsequently “merged” in a paired track arrangement after the NYC gained control of both railroads.

The 765 was slated to leave at noon and as best we could tell it left on time or close to it. It came past our location on Track No. 2 at 1:22 p.m. It’s funny how you drive more than two hours, wait about two hours and then the train comes along for what seems about two seconds. That’s railfanning.

We didn’t wait around until the return trip. We had heard that the NS heritage unit No. 8114 was leading a 20W eastward and we were off in pursuit of that.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders



Owosso Train Festival Begins Today

June 20, 2014

The 2014 Train Expo opens today in Owosso, Mich. Sponsored by The Steam Railroading Institute , the three-day event has been dubbed “Locomotives, Wings and Wheels” and will feature a variety of transportation venues throughout the weekend.

Steam locomotives Nickel Plate Road No. 765 and Pere Marquette No. 1225 will operate passenger excursions.

Both locomotives will pull half-day train excursions will operate from Owosso to Alma and return. The four-hour round trip excursions will depart Owosso each morning at 8 a.m. and again at 2 p.m.

Additionally, visiting steam locomotives from the Little River Railroad will be operating one-hour train rides from Owosso several times each day.
All slots to operate Flagg Coal Company No. 75 and Lehigh Valley Coal Co. 126 have been sold out.

Lerro Productions will conduct a series of night photo sessions on the evenings of Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. These sessions will provide photographers a chance to photograph the visiting equipment and Pere Marquette No. 1225.

Additional attractions include an antique car display and an air show featuring vintage World War II aircraft. For more information, go to

NKP 765 Shows its Stuff During Toledo Layover

June 19, 2014

The steam engine made quite an impression in Toledo this week. Nickel Plagte Road No. 765 spent Tuesday night and Wednesday morning at the Toledo Central Union Terminal as a stopover en route to Owosso, Mich., for a train festival.

The 2-8-4 Berkshire was on public display at what is known today as Martin Luther King Jr. Plaza on Wednesday, following a twilight arrival in the Glass City on Tuesday. The locomotive is on its way to Owosso, Mich., for the Train Expo 2014.

The 765 arrived at about 9:15 p.m. in front of about 75-100 spectators. The 765 was to pick up two Iowa Pacific-owned full-length dome cars in Toledo before resuming its journey to Owosso where it will see excursion train duties this weekend.
The locomotive traveled from its base in New Haven, Ind., on the former Wabash to Butler, Ind., and then took the former New York Central to Toledo.

In Toledo the 765 turned on a wye east of the station. The 765 is slated to pull a series of employee and public excursions in southeast Michigan next month.

Nickel Plate 765 Visits Mighty Oval Territory

May 4, 2014
The Nickel Plate Road No. 765 splits the westbound signals at CP 360 west of Butler, Ind., on Saturday as it pulled a Norfolk Southern employees appreciation special.

The Nickel Plate Road No. 765 splits the westbound signals at CP 360 west of Butler, Ind., on Saturday as it pulled a Norfolk Southern employees appreciation special.

Nickel Plate Road No. 765 kicked off its 2014 excursion season on Saturday by pulling an employee appreciation special for Norfolk Southern that operated from Elkhart, Ind., to Bryan, Ohio, and return.

At one point in time, the NKP and New York Central were fierce competitors and both maintained racetrack mainlines across northern Indiana. But those days are past and those former mainlines are now under NS control. The NYC and NKP are just two more fallen flags among many.

My friend Adam and I traveled to Butler, Ind., to intercept the eastbound trip west of town on a bridge that carries a county road over the tracks.

It was mostly cloudy and very windy. We were hoping for a break in the clouds when the 765 showed up, but we had no such luck.

After the train passed, we grabbed some lunch in Butler and scouted for locations to shoot the return trip. We settled on the U.S. Route 6 grade crossing in Edgerton, Ohio, in large part because I wanted to get the train rolling past some flowering trees. Yes, spring seems to finally be getting here.

It was a mighty good show as the 765 handled the train easily without any diesel assistance. I don’t know what all of those former employees of the “mighty oval: would have thought of this NKP interloper running around on their railroad, but I’d bet even the most loyal Central main would have had a smile on his face at seeing mainline steam once again.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders




Approaching Edgerton, Ohio, on Track No. 1

Approaching Edgerton, Ohio, on Track No. 1



The consist of the 14-car passenger train was a mixture of NS executive fleet equipment and Mid America cars.

The consist of the 14-car passenger train was a mixture of NS executive fleet equipment and Mid America cars.


Road Trip to the Fostoria Railfan Park

April 29, 2014


After last week’s Akron Railroad Club meeting, Dennis Taksar and I decided to travel out to Fostoria the next morning to see the new railfan park for the first time.

Departing sleepy eyed at 6 a.m., we headed over a route that was adjusted slightly through Bellevue to pick up some “secret” donuts.  We didn’t bother to look for trains.

Along the way we made a brief stop at a quarry in Maplewood, I think that it was, to see if we could get shots of their three switchers.

Only one SW class unit was in reach of my lens.  Our first mainline encounter was on the Norfolk Southern. It was one engine and one car. Model train consists are longer that than.

We arrived in Fostoria around 8 a.m., to greetings from Camcorder Sam and a couple of familiar faces from the Columbus area who were already excited about the mornings parade of trains past the park.

And it was quite a parade. CSX was running through like rush hour buses through Public Square.

Seldom was there as much as a 10 minute wait between trains. The former Chesapeake & Ohio tracks were almost exclusively BNSF power including four war bonnets leading their charges.

I would guess at least 80 percent of that morning’s CSX trains had foreign power, including Union Pacific, BC Rail and various leasers.

This was our first visit to the new train park and we found it to be quite nice. You could almost stand on a lazy Susan and spin around to easily catch all the action.

The pavilion has nice rest facilities as well as benches and tall tables under the canopy. The landscaping will add a nice touch once it takes hold without interfering with the sight of the passing trains.

I fear, however, that dedicated parking may become a premium. Parking along the entry drive should help without block views too badly.

In the background all morning was the consent chatter among the photographers about a special movement that was imminent.

Traffic slowed a bit after lunch so Dennis took me around town to see other rail interests. We stopped by a very large grain elevator on the north edge of Fostoria where we photographed a new Critter the faculty recently received. It looked to be a mid-sized General Electric unit.

Then we ventured to the southwest side of town to a giant landfill operation where we saw a sorry looking SW switcher in early CB&Q colors marshaling trash cars about. It was an odiferous experience.

Upon return to the train park, we had a surprise meet up with Dennis’ dad and information about

the special movement.

We crammed Dad into the back seat and achieved train chase speeds westward.

The special movement was the Nickel Plate Road 765 on a test run from Fort Wayne to Leipsic Junction

I guess they wanted to see if anything will fall off before the trip between Elkhart and Bryan later this week. This encounter was a neat bonus to sweeten the trip to northwest Ohio.

If you look carefully in the first photo of the 765, you’ll see a strange white thing. It is a drone that a youngster had. The 21 century has a new wrinkle to train photography.

After our short visit with the big Berkshire, we returned to Fostoria via Deshler, a location that I had never been before.

Our brief stay in Deshler netted only one westbound train and as the sun began to set we returned to Fostoria to drop off Dad before finding much needed food before a long and weary trip back

Article and Photographs by Alex Bruchac











NKP 765 Summer Sked Making Rounds

March 8, 2014

The summer operating schedule for Nickel Plate Road No. 765 has been making the rounds on various railfan oriented Internet sites. Aside from the TrainExpo festival in Michigan, none of these trips were listed yet on the website of the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society, the owner of the Berkshire locomotive.

Norfolk Southern employee trips:

May 3 & 4 – Elkhart, Ind. to Bryan, Ohio
May 10 & 11 — Chicago (Calumet) to Argos, Ind.
July 5 & 6 — Detroit to Toledo

Public Excursions:

June 20-24 — TrainExpo, Owosso, Mich.
July 12 & 13 — Detroit to Ft. Wayne
July 19 – Aug 9 Logansport, Ind., and Kokomo, Ind.

NKP 765 to Operate This Weekend Sans Diesel

October 26, 2013

When Nickel Plate Road No. 765 hits the high iron this weekend something will be quite different about it. No, not the locomotive itself, but it’s train.

For the first time since 1993 the 2-8-4 Berkshire will be leading a passenger train out of its home city and it will be doing it without having a diesel onboard.

It will be the 765’s first trip on Norfolk Southern as a solo act. NS decided that the 765 could run unassisted because the distance and fuel use will be less than it was on previous trips and there will be no deadhead move.

The 765 has previously made several deadhead moves over NS tracks without a diesel helper.
On previous excursions within the past year, NS has usually assigned one of its heritage locomotives to the consist.

The Indiana trips this weekend will have a 15-car consist that will include 20th Century Limited observation lounge Hickory Creek and New York Central lounge No. 43, as well as two Iowa Pacific full-length domes, Scenic View and Sky View. The historical society added three cars, including the Sky View, in a response to ticket demand and a waiting list of almost 1,000 people.
The Fort Wayne Railroad Historical  Society, which owns the 765, said passengers are coming from California, Canada, Texas, and New Jersey as well as the Midwest.

The FtWRHS said that the 765 will return to the main line next year in a series of trips on NS. In another development,  the 765 and the Fort Wayne group’s collection are the subjects of a multi-million dollar riverfront development study which may allow a downtown Fort Wayne tourist train operation.
The railroad group also owns ex-Wabash 0-6-0 steam locomotive No. 534, later carrying No. 1 for the Lake Erie & Fort Wayne. This locomotive was placed in Sweeney Park in 1957.

It is one of two surviving Wabash steam locomotives and is undergoing cosmetic restoration and preventative maintenance for a future ultrasound and feasibility study for a return to operation.

Ticket Sales Resume for NKP 765 Indiana Trips

October 18, 2013

Some tickets were still available as of Friday morning (Oct. 18) for the Oct. 26 and 27 Wabash Cannnonball excursion between Fort Wayne and Lafayette, Ind., to be pulled by Nickel Plate Road steam locomotive No. 765.

The Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society resumed selling tickets for the trips earlier this week after it was able to add additional cars, including former New York Central observation car Hickory Creek and ex-NYC lounge car No. 43.

A check of the FtWRHS website early Friday found that coach tickets are sold out, but tickets remain for the dome car on Oct. 27 and for “Twentieth Century Class” seating on both dates. Tickets for both of these accommodations are $349 plus a $9.72 handling charge.

Tickets for excursions went on sale during the Labor Day weekend and sold out within a couple of hours. At the time, there were complaints about the inability of many would-be patron to order on online or to get through to a sales representative by phone.

The FtWRHS started a waiting list and said it was seeking to add additional cars to the excursions, the first out of Fort Wayne for the 765 in more than 20 years.

Aside from the ex-NYC cars, the excursion trains will include coaches owned by Norfolk Southern and MidAmerica Railcar Leasing, and the Scenic View and Prairie View dome cars that accompanied No. 765 this past May for trips in Ohio and Pennsylvania.

“This may be the first trip for the Hickory Creek behind steam,” said Wayne York, the excursion manager. “We want to roll out the red carpet for this event.”

The late October trips will be the last in 2013 for the 765 on NS tracks, but FtWRHS officials expect the 765’s schedule for 2014 to include trips in Ohio, Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana.

To purchase tickets and view the schedules, click on the link below.

Just Like it Was in the 1950s

September 27, 2013


Four days after my back fusion surgery, I took a drive over to Mogador to see one of the Nickel Plates engines that I used to see almost every day in Kent back in the 1950s. After picking out an open spot where the engine would be working hard, the hour wait was worth it. I wasn’t disappointed.

Photograph by Rob Rohal


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