The Third Train was a Real Charm

Norfolk Southern train No. 310 with the Nickel Plate Road heritage locomotive in the lead saunters through Kimball late Saturday morning. At least four other Akron Railroad Club members would catch this train father down the line.

Norfolk Southern train No. 310 with the Nickel Plate Road heritage locomotive in the lead saunters through Kimball late Saturday morning. At least six other Akron Railroad Club members would catch this train father down the line.

The forecast for Saturday called for mostly sunny skies so I just had to get out somewhere to photograph some trains. I thought about going to Berea, but I’ll be there next Saturday for the Akron Railroad Club’s Dave McKay Day.

I thought about going to Marion to try to get some Kansas City Southern power on the Q109 shuttle train. But I was told that that train doesn’t operate on Saturdays.

So I decided to do Bellevue on the chance that a heritage locomotive or two might show up.

The NS 8100, the Nickel Plate Road heritage unit, was reported to be in Bellevue. As I arrived in town, I spotted a grain train heading south (railroad east) on the Sandusky District.

I had a vague recollection that I had read online that a heritage unit – maybe the NKP one – had been in the power consist of a grain train delivered to Clyde on the Toledo District.

Could this be that train going somewhere else? I hot footed it southbound toward Frank, but got there too late to get a photograph. And there were no heritage units on this train.

I arrived back in Bellevue to see a slow train passing the Mad River & Nickel Plate Road Museum. There were a high number of Canadian National cars in the consist and I guessed that this was the 184, which always has CN power on the lead.

My guess was correct, but I had missed out on photographing this train. Strike 2!

I got situated in the parking lot across from the old interlocking tower that once guarded the crossing of the four railroads that served Bellevue.

I heard the yardmaster talking on the radio to train 310 with the NS 8100. That number sounded familiar. Was this the NKP heritage unit?

I called Roger Durfee to see if he knew about any heritage units being near or likely to reach Bellevue today.

He replied that the NKP unit was buried in the yard. I told him about hearing on the radio the 310 with the NS 8100.

Bingo. That’s the NKP locomotive. Roger was out photographing the Illinois Terminal heritage unit at Avon Lake but got excited about the prospect of catching the NKP heritage unit on the former NKP mainline.

I looked over my DeLorme Atlas and decided to try photographing the 310 at Kimball, a small town just east of Bellevue Yard. I’d never been there before but had a hazy recollection of having seen photos taken with NKP-style block signals in the image.

On the drive there, I confirmed that the 184 had CN power as I could see it working in the yard.

I found Kimball but the NKP-style block signals at the east end of the siding had been replaced by newer models.

I decided to use the signals as a prop along with an unused spur that leads to an old grain elevator.

The wait for the 310 seemed to be agonizingly slow. I had seen two trains thus far and had not been able to photograph either of them, only watch them roll by.

Every so often I’d hear the 310 talking on the radio. About 11, the 310 said it was ready to head east, but nothing happened.

The wait ended shortly before 11:30. I could see a headlight to the west and I confirmed through my telephoto lens that this was the 8100.

Man, those gold stripes on the nose never looked so good as they did coming down the track on this day.

Later, I found two more Nickel Plate “heritage locomotives” in Bellevue. But these are in a museum. I’m sure they’ve been past that grain elevator in Kimball many times.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

NS 8100 crosses over the switch of the spur track to a grain elevator. The elevator is still in use, it appears, but the track is seldom used, if it is used at all these days.

NS 8100 crosses over the switch of the spur track to a grain elevator. The elevator is still in use, it appears, but the track is seldom used, if it is used at all these days.

Splitting the signals at the east end of the Kimball siding.

Splitting the signals at the east end of the Kimball siding.

NS 8100 was not the only Nickel Plate heritage unit that I saw on Saturday.

NS 8100 was not the only Nickel Plate heritage unit that I saw on Saturday.

A pair of Nickel Plate diesels in the Mad River & Nickel Plate Road Musuem in Bellevue.

A pair of Nickel Plate diesels in the Mad River & NKP Railroad Musuem in Bellevue.

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