Posts Tagged ‘Nickel Plate Road’

Erie Heritage With the Erie H Unit in Cleveland

April 30, 2016



The Erie Railroad heritage unit has been assigned to Norfolk Southern intermodal trains 22K and 23K for about a month now. Sometimes it leads, sometimes not, but until today (April 30), I had not been able to catch it.
One challenge in chasing H units is to somehow work in the actual railroad the heritage engine represents.

Catching the New York Central on the NYC or the Pennsylvania on the Pennsy is like a double bonus. Getting the Erie on the Erie is difficult to do in northeast Ohio.

But the 22K, which the Erie lea today, traverses the former Nickel Plate Road east of Cleveland and it passes former although now abandoned tracks that the Erie used.

The Cleveland Union Terminal hosted passenger trains from the NYC, Baltimore & Ohio, NKP and Erie.

This is appropriate as the Erie heritage is based on the two-tone green colors of Erie passenger engines and trains.

Another Erie connection is the Terminal Tower complex seen in the background. Passenger trains ended their run here but Erie also had its headquarters located in this complex.

The Erie at one time was a Van Sweringen road. The Van Sweringen brothers owned a consortium of railroads including the Nickel Plate, Erie, Chesapeake & Ohio and Pere Marquette.

They were also responsible for building the massive Terminal Tower complex, a Cleveland landmark.

Their intent was to merge these holdings into a giant rail system. Alas, these plans fell through and while Pere Marquette did merge with the C&O, the Nickel Plate and Erie went their separate ways.

I wonder how today’s rail network would look had this merger happened. It would likely have been a dominant player in the rail scene.

Article and Photographs by Todd Dillon

A NKP 765 Chase Album Sampler

September 12, 2015
Crossing the Swanville trestle over Walnut Creek.

Crossing the Swanville trestle over Walnut Creek.

Akron Railroad Club Treasurer Edward Ribinskas took to the highways this week to catch the Nickel Plate Road No. 765 as it made a ferry move from Buffalo, New York, to Bellevue.

Ed initially intercepted the 765 at about 3 p.m. crossing Walnut Creek in Fairview, Pennsylvania.

From there he made a dash down U.S. Route 20 to Conneaut to get into place along Old Main Street to photograph the 765 and its train crossing Conneaut Creek.

The 765 made a service stop in Conneaut, which gave Ed plenty of time to get to Parrish Road at the far west end of the Conneaut Yard to capture the 765 charging out of town.

Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

The first of a two-shot sequence of NKP 765 crossing Conneaut Creek.

The first of a two-shot sequence of NKP 765 crossing Conneaut Creek.


The first of a three-shot sequence at Parrish Road on the west edge of Conneaut.

The first of a three-shot sequence at Parrish Road on the west edge of Conneaut.



We Didn’t Know Them as Heritage Units Then

September 8, 2015

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It is the summer of 1967 or 1968 in Brewster and Nickel Plate Road ALCOs sit on the dead line several years after the Norfolk & Western had taken over the NKP. It is hard to imagine that these switchers were heritage units at that early date. We just didn’t know it then.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Abbey Avenue Park Opens New Photo Angles

July 22, 2015

One of the benefits of the new Inner Belt Bridge Project in Cleveland is the addition of some new park areas near the new spans.

One such park, located on Abbey Avenue, has opened some new photo possibilities for shooting westbound Norfolk Southern trains s crossing the lift bridge on the former Nickel Plate Road over the Cuyahoga River.

A word to the wise: Don’t dawdle on getting to Abbey. Once the funding for the parks runs out the vegetation will be allowed to grow at will and the shot will be overwhelmed.

But for now here is what you need to know about shooting from Abbey Avenue park.

The park is located obviously on Abbey Avenue at the east end of the Abbey Avenue viaduct over the NKP and several city streets.

The parking area is right under the new freeway bridge and when trains aren’t moving on the NKP the view of downtown Cleveland is quite nice to behold.

To get there from Interstate 90 westbound, just exit at the Abbey Avenue/West 14th Street exit. It dumps you right into the parking lot for the park, which is right across Abbey Avenue.

From northbound I-71 or Ohio Route 176, exit at West 14th Street, go around the roundabout and head all the way to the foot of West 14th Street. Follow the signs for Sokolowski’s Restaurant to reach Abbey Avenue. The park and parking area are just to the west, a left turn on Abbey Avenue.

When you reach the park, you will find several angles available for shooting westbound trains coming off the lift bridge with the Cleveland skyline in the background. A wide angle lens works best, but a 50 mm lens can be used.

There is some clutter along the tracks that will limit some shots, but look around and choose the best angles for your type of lens, camera and personal tastes.

Lighting is best from about mid morning to mid afternoon, but during these hours you can usually count on trains like 205 and 23K to show up.

On July 4, we witnessed the 205 and a 65W empty oil train running back to back. I did two different angles and can’t wait to see the results.

The former NKP here is controlled by the Cleveland Terminal Dispatcher on radio frequency 161.250.

The lift bridge is manned, but only goes up to clear the big lake boats. There is plenty of clearance for smaller pleasure crafts and sightseeing boats like the Goodtime III.

Spend some quality time or just catch a train or two, but check out the scene at Abbey Avenue.

Article by Marty Surdyk

Leipsic Poised for a Signal Change

May 26, 2015

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This past Sunday I ended up in Leipsic, Ohio, the intersection of the former Baltimore & Ohio line between Toledo and Cincinnati, and the former Nickel Plate Road mainline across the state.

The old tower still stands although I don’t know for how much longer.

It is an NKP design; however, it was manned by B&O operators.

This is because the NKP was the second line to arrive at this location and by law had to pay for the cost of the interlocking.

The old B&O color position light signals are still being used. However, new signals have been erected and are waiting to be cut in. The new equipment makes an interesting comparison with the old.

I am reminded that the only constant is change. New engines replace old, new equipment and facilities replace the old and worn out.

I ended up getting a northbound and then a southbound CSX train in the late afternoon sun.

Article and Photographs by Todd Dillon

Yes, Mr. McCaleb Would Have Approved

May 24, 2015


Jim Semon’s presentation last Friday night of Willis McCaleb’s color slides of mainly Nickel Plate Road steam is on my list of the top five programs that I’ve seen at the Akron Railroad Club.

Obviously, Mr. McCaleb’s technical quality was exceptional, but his depth of detail in capturing a scene instead of just a train photo made him one of the masters of railfan photography.

How thankful those of us who saw the program can be not only for Mr. McCaleb’s slides but Jim’s interesting narrative.

As for me, capturing a scene was a rare event. I wanted a “train” photo. Still, once in a while, I was blessed with a photo that not only captured an event but a slice of history.

I was looking for a photo to put online and went to a box of black and white negatives.

I had no idea what I’d choose but found this. It is Sept. 8, 1968, and NKP 759 is heading east over the ex-NKP trestle in Conneaut.

NKP 759 is running its first excursion after being restored in Conneaut.

Steam-starved people of all ages from die-hard railfans to families with their children seeing the beauty of a live steam locomotive for the first time lined the tracks.

Down in the valley, the field was dotted with people, cars and cameras. Perhaps Mr. McCaleb would have approved of this image. I like to think so.

Article and Photographs by Robert Farkas

Bluebird, Maybe, (and a Pumpkin) at Kent

January 2, 2015
Is this really a bluebird?' Some say it is.

Is this really a bluebird?’ Some say it is.

We all agree this is a pumpkin. Right?

We all agree this is a pumpkin. Right?

When I hear or see the term “bluebird” used in reference to a locomotive I think of the Alco PA passenger locomotives operated by the Nickel Plate Road in the 1950s.

Those locomotives wore a striking blue and silver livery and were daily visitors to Cleveland as they made their runs between Chicago and Buffalo, NY., and between Cleveland and St. Louis.

But of late I’ve seen the term used to describe a type of “rent a wreck” locomotive pulling trains on various railroads, including CSX.

I first saw “Bluebird” used in conjunction with these locomotives in a posting on Train

I’m not sure I’m ready to adopt this contemporary use of the term, which probably was created by young railfans who may or may not know about the NKP “Bluebirds.”

I am certain, though, that when you refer to a locomotive as a “pumpkin,” everyone will think of a BNSF locomotive. Then again there are or have been a fair number of orange colored locomotives out there. So maybe . . .

At any rate here is a “bluebird” and a “pumpkin” each leading a westbound through Kent in late October on the CSX New Castle Subdivision.

Both images were made from the Portage Hike Bike Trail bridge just north of Fairchild Avenue where the Crain Avenue bridge used to be.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders



Lakewood Mayor Wants Quiet Zone Crossings

November 11, 2014


In a statement posted on the city’s website, Lake Mayor Michael Summers said he has been in contact with the Ohio Rail Development Commission, Norfolk Southern and neighboring communities to discuss an increase in train traffic over the former Nickel Plate Road line.

The mayor acted after NS told Lakewood officials that “increased rail traffic and congestion” will result in four more trains coming through Lakewood each day.

Lakewood, Rocky River and Bay Village reached an agreement with NS in 1998 to limit train traffic at no more than an average of 14 daily.

That agreement was part of the split of Conrail between NS and CSX. At the time, all NS traffic through Cleveland used the ex-NKP route.

Summers said he is asking NS and the state and federal governments to work to implement “quiet zones” in his inner ring suburb.

In a quiet zone, double gates are placed on each side of certain crossings to prevent motorists from driving around the gate.

Lakewood has 27 grade crossings and making all of them into quiet zones would cost $13 million. “It may be time to figure out how to implement that,” Summers said.

Summers indicated that he is not necessarily hostile toward the presence of the rail line.

“These tracks have been here since Lakewood got started as a community,” he said. “Trains make sense. They’re environmentally friendly; they’re more cost-effective; they put fewer demands on our road-and-bridge infrastructure and they’re more economically competitive.”



Increase in Rail Traffic Rattles some in Lakewood

November 5, 2014

Another byproduct of the traffic congestion on the Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern this year has been an increase in trains using the former Nickel Plate Road mainline between Vermilion and Cleveland.

And that has some resident of Lakewood upset. Until this year, NS typically put two trains a day over the former NKP through Lakewood, but now that has increased to six.

Lakewood is a densely populated area with 26 railroad grade crossing, most of which are in residential neighborhoods. Federal law requires train crews to sound the locomotive horn at every crossing.

Because the crossings in Lakewood are so close together it means that there is a nearly continuous sounding of locomotive horns as trains roll through town. One resident told WEWS-TV that the horns sound for about 10 minutes.

One solution to quiet the train horns would be to establish quiet zones.

“We will begin a process to figure out what to do to work on quiet zones,” said Lakewood Mayor Mike Summer. “It’s expensive. It can work. It lessens the need for the conductor to toot the horn, which is the big concern for Lakewood.”

The mayor said quiet zones would required placing double gates at each crossing, But, that would be costly and the city isn’t sure it has the money to pay for it.

Summer said he will try to secure federal transportation money to pay for the upgraded crossing gates.

Ex-NKP Coach Trucked to Lake Shore Museum

October 30, 2014

It needs a lot of restoration work, but a former Nickel Plate Road lightweight coach has found a new home at the Lake Shore Railway Museum in North East, Pa.

The museum took delivery of No. 103, which was built in 1950 by Pullman Standard. The 52-seat coach no doubt passed the museum several times during its tenure on the Nickel Plate before it was sold in August 1964 to the Atlantic Coast Line.

Amtrak later acquired the car and renumbered it 5253. It was sold in 1981.

The car had been languishing in Gowanda, N.Y., and was used in the move Planes, Trains & Automobiles.

It was trucked moved to North East from Gowanda last week.


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