Coming Out Party for NKP Geep

A former Nickel Plate Road GP7L returned to service on Independence Day on former NKP rails.

No. 426 was one of two locomotives that pulled 30-minute holiday excursion trains from downtown Noblesville, Indiana, for Nickel Plate Express, a tourist train operator.

The geep was on the north end of the train. Saturday’s runs were the first for the locomotives this year and the opening of the season for the Nickel Plate Express.

The tourist train uses 12 miles of a former NKP branch that once extended from Indianapolis to Michigan City, Indiana.

Most of the line, whose heritage includes the Lake Erie & Western, has been abandoned including the segment from Noblesville to Indianapolis.

The 426 was built by EMD in July 1953 and retired by the Norfolk & Western in 1977. It then served a number of other owners, including the Peabody Company.

It was donated to the Indiana Transportation Museum in 2001, where it received a NKP livery. The locomotive is now owned by the City of Noblesville, which took possession of it after evicting ITM from its longtime home in the city’s Forest Park.

ITM used the 426 to pull its Indiana State Fair trains and other excursions and I photographed it pulling a Fair Train in Fishers in August 2011.

Because it was on the north end of the train the light made getting good images of the 426 a tough assignment. But it was a historic moment and I did what I could.

In the top image, No. 426 is shown trailing as the excursion train comes into downtown Noblesville during a ferry move.

In the middle image, a railfan photographer races down a trail over the White River to get into position to photograph the second excursion of the day leaving Noblesville.

In the bottom photograph, No. 426 and a former Santa Fe Hi-Level car sit on the bridge over the White River.

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