Posts Tagged ‘Nickel Plate Road’

ITM Being Evicted from Noblesville Home

December 28, 2017

The Indiana Transportation Museum is being evicted by the City of Noblesville from its site in Forest Park after its lease expires next March.

The city has cited its discontent with the manner in which the museum has maintained the property, which the city says needs to undergo an environmental cleanup.

In response Museum Chairman John McNichols said the eviction is a ploy by the city to bankrupt the museum, seize its equipment and then give it to a new operator of an excursion service that is expected to begin next year.

Saying that conditions at the museum are no worse than at an auto garage, McNichols claims the city is banking on the fact that moving the railroad equipment at the museum will be too expensive to do by truck.

City spokesman Robert Harrington disputed McNichols claims, saying the city wants the site cleared out as soon as possible so environmental cleanup can begin.

“We don’t want anything. We want remediation to begin so we can see what is safe to go there,” Herrington said.

ITM has been housed in Forest Park since 1965 and until 2016 operated excursion trains on a former Nickel Plate Branch line through Noblesville that once extended between Indianapolis and Michigan, City, Indiana.

Much of that branch has since been abandoned, but the tracks between Indianapolis and Atlanta, Indiana, are now owned by the Hoosier Heritage Port Authority.

The Authority, which is controlled in part by the cities of Noblesville and Fishers, refused to allow ITM to operate over the tracks in 2016, citing safety concerns.

Earlier this year, city officials in Fishers announced plans to remove the track between Noblesville and Indianapolis and convert it into a hiking and biking trail.

The Port Authority later selected the Nickel Plate Heritage Railroad to operate excursion trains between Noblesville and Arcadia.

Noblesville officials also requested an inspection of the museum grounds by state environmental officials in response to complaints about leaking oil drums.

That inspection, conducted by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and the Environmental Protection Agency, found a host of environmental and health hazards, including PCBs and several rail cars believed to contain asbestos.

The city contends that museum officials have listed 1,064 items for waste containment and disposal.

“The ITM has not shown good stewardship with the resources entrusted to them for more than 50 years,” said Noblesville Mayor John Ditslear said in a statement. “The City of Noblesville is taking these proactive measures now to protect our residents and our heritage, to ensure Forest Park is cleaned up and to bring the trains back to our community with a new operator.”

ITM earlier this year signed an agreement to house at least some of its collection in Logansport, Indiana

Logansport Mayor David Kitchell wants ITM to make the Cass County city its permanent home.

“I talked to Mayor Ditslear about giving the ITM some extra time to move their assets if they need it,” Kitchell said. “We have about three sites that [the museum] could move into here.”

ITM has about $3 million in equipment, including eight locomotives, box cars and historical artifacts. About 30,000 people visit the museum each year.

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New Indiana Tourist Railroad Being Planned

October 27, 2017

A new Indiana tourist train operation is making plans to commence operations in spring 2018.

Known as the Nickel Plate Express, the trains will be operated by the Nickel Plate Heritage Railroad and use a former NKP branch line between Atlanta and Noblesville, Indiana.

The line once ran between Indianapolis and Michigan City, Indiana, but several portions of it have been abandoned.

The line in Hamilton and Marion counties has been inactive in the past year but had previously been used by the Indiana Transportation Museum.

The cities of Fishers and Noblesville want to abandon the tracks between the latter city and Indianapolis in order to create a hike and bike trail. That matter is now pending before the U.S. Surface Transportation Board.

Nickel Plate Express will be headquartered at the Arcadia Heritage Depot.

Although the tourist train operator has created a website, it has not listed any schedules, fare information or a service inauguration date.

However, the site said the trains will operate regular excursions Fridays through Sundays along the 12-mile track between Noblesville and Atlanta.

Departures will take place from Noblesville arriving in Cicero, Arcadia and Atlanta; to Noblesville from Atlanta; from Atlanta to Arcadia and the old spur or “Davon Y” between 216th & 221st Streets.

The website can be found at https://www.nickelplateexpress.net/

NKP Photographer, Historian Howard Ameling Dies

October 10, 2017

Nickel Plate Road photographer and historian Howard W. Ameling died last week at age 88 after a long illness.

A retired post office employee, Mr. Ameling spent much of his life in Fremont, Ohio, which was served by two NKP predecessor railroads, the Lake Erie & Western and Wheeling & Lake Erie.

He became interested in photographing railroad operations after a visit to the Chicago Railroad Fair in 1948 and would later photograph and collect thousands of images and movies related to the NKP and its components.

He also authored numerous articles about the Nickel Plate.

Mr. Ameling was a founding member of the Nickel Plate Road Historical & Technical Society, which was organized in 1966.

The Society presented him with its first Founder’s Award. Mr. Ameling donated his collection to the society’s archives.

Mr. Ameling is survived by his wife, Dorothy, “Dot” Ameling.

NKP 765 Ferry Move

September 13, 2017

Nickel Plate Road 2-8-4 No. 765 made a road trip on Tuesday, traveling on Norfolk Southern rails from its home in New Haven, Indiana, to Cleveland in preparation for two weeks of excursions on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad.

The engine spent the night in Cleveland and was to move onto the CVSR today to get into position for this weekend’s trips.

Reports on HeritageUnits.com indicated that No. 765 entered Ohio sometime in mid morning. It was spotted at Payne not far from the Indiana border at 9:55 a.m.

The ferry move took No. 765 over former NKP rails to Vermilion, where it went through the connection to get from the Cleveland District onto the Chicago Line west of town.

Akron Railroad Club member Robert Farkas made a road trip to Bellevue to capture the 765 ferry move in a couple of places.

In the top photograph, the train is on Fostoria District by the New Haven Connection in Bellevue. In the bottom photograph No. 765 is on the open road.

Fishing for the NKP Heritage Unit

September 12, 2017

I was in Conneaut last Sunday when Norfolk Southern delivered a surprise.

NS 8100, the Nickel Plate Road heritage locomotive, was leading Bellevue to Buffalo train No. 316.

The 316 had work to do in the yard, so I had the opportunity to capture it in two places, one of which is the NKP-built trestle over Conneaut Creek.

A bonus for that image was a fisherman wading in the creek to cast his line as the 8100 rumbled over.

I made it a point to get 8100 with the NKP era block signals still standing west of Chestnut Street.

They won’t be there much longer. New signals have been put up and are waiting to be placed into service.

Vestiges of the Nickel Plate are falling by the wayside. Even the NKP trestles are being replaced, although if NS has long plans to replace the bridge in Conneaut it is likely to be awhile.

Group Formed to Protest NKP Branch Abandonment

August 8, 2017

A group has formed in Hamilton County, Indiana, to seek to overturn the decision by local officials to convert parts of a former Nickel Plate Road branch line into a hiking and biking trail.

The group, known as Save the Nickel Plate, is seeking to get supporters of keeping the rail line to write to the U.S. Surface Transportation Board in opposition to approval of the line’s abandonment.

Hamilton County along with the cities of Fishers and Noblesville filed a petition with the STB on Aug. 1 to gain regulatory approval to pull up nine miles of the line between Noblesville and Indianapolis.

Through 2015 the line was used by the Indiana Fair Train and other excursions sponsored by the Indiana Transportation Museum.

The Save the Nickel Plate group has raised concerns about what it termed the lack of public input regarding the trail plan, the lack of train service, impediments to rail service caused by the Hoosier Heritage Port Authority’s suspension of rail operation, and concern for the process of selecting a new railroad operator that only runs on the northern portion of the railroad.

The group has established a website at http://www.savethenickelplate.org/

NKP 757 to be Acquired by Bellevue Museum

August 2, 2017

Two museums have worked out an agreement that will result in a former Nickel Plate Road steam locomotive moving to Ohio.

The Mad River & NKP Railroad Museum said this week that the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania has agreed to send it NKP No. 757.

In Bellevue, the 757 will be placed on static display. NKP 757 is a 2-8-4 Berkshire-type that was built by Lima Locomotives Works in 1944.

“We are very excited to be able to bring the 757 back to Bellevue,” said Made River museum President Chris Beamer. “The absence of a mainline steam locomotive in our collection has been something we have wanted to correct for a long time.”

No. 757 last operated on June 15, 1958. The Nickel Plate had intended to donate it to the city of Bellevue, but it lacked a suitable place to display it.

The locomotive was stored in Bellevue for several years before being donated to the Pennsylvania museum in 1966.

Moving the 757 will cost $250,000 and the Mad River museum is raising funds to pay for that. It has launched a website http://www.bringback757.org to provide further information about the fundraising campaign.

The Mad River museum has more than 50 pieces of equipment displayed or stored on 10 acres of property and five buildings. It describes itself as having the most extensive collection of NKP equipment and artifacts of any museum.

Negotiations to bring NKP 757 to Bellevue began earlier this year. The Mad River museum will own the 757 once it has been removed from its current site in Pennsylvania.

Indiana Fair Train Won’t Be Returning

August 2, 2017

The Indiana Fair Train is no more. The Hamilton County Commissioners along with city officials in Fishers and Noblesville have agree to pull up the rails that the Fair train once used between Noblesville and the fairgrounds in Indianapolis and convert the right of way into a hiking and biking trail.

However, the plans including preserving the rails north of Noblesville and allowing a tourist train operator to use them.

The 37-mile former Nickel Plate Road branch line is owned by the county and the two cities.

Under the recently announced plan, nine miles of the branch will be converted to a trail with 28 miles available for rail operations.

The Nickel Plate Heritage Railroad has been chosen to be the operator of the rail line that is being preserved.

The fair train and other excursions over the NKP branch had been operated until 2016 by the Indiana Transportation Museum, which is currently based in Noblesville but has announced plans to relocate to Logansport, Indiana.

Selection of an operator was recently made by the Hoosier Heritage Port Authority, which manages the line.

The authority received five applications to operate the ex-NKP branch and gave the highest score to Iowa Pacific Holdings, which until early this year operated the Chicago-Indianapolis Hoosier State in conjunction with Amtrak.

However, Iowa Pacific wanted to operate the line south of Noblesville and provide freight service. That was at odds with the desire of the cities to remove the rails there to create a trail.

“The proposal  . . . allows for the preservation of the train going north from Noblesville while providing a year-round recreational trail amenity for our residents,” said Fishers Mayor Scott Fadness. “The Nickel Plate Railroad played an important role in our history as a city and I believe the Nickel Plate Trail will honor that history while creating an amenity that so many of our residents have requested.”

Ft.WRHS Gets Donation to Restore NKP Diesel

July 29, 2017

The Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society has received a $3,000 donation that it will use to help pay for the restoration of a former Nickel Plate Road diesel.

Steel Dynamics made the donation to Project 358, which is working to restore ex-NKP No. 358, an SD9 built in 1957.

It was given to the society in 2011 by Norfolk Southern. The Fort Wayne group plans to use the 358 in excursion service and to display it at events.

The donation will be used to acquire electrical cable, paint, generators and other parts in need of refurbishment. The estimated total cost for the restoration is approximately $35,000.

Steel Dynamics is a producer of continuous welded rail and has helped to underwrite the Society’s feasibility studies for its planned Headwaters Junction project.

ITM Plans to Sue over Denial to Use Rail Line

June 29, 2017

The Indiana Transportation Museum plans to file suit against Hamilton County and the cities of Noblesville and Fishers, seeking damages for losses sustained from being unable to use a former Nickel Plate Road branch line for excursion service last year.

The museum sent the notice to leaders of the Hoosier Heritage Port Authority, which oversees the tracks, the mayors and deputy mayors of Noblesville and Fishers, all three Hamilton County commissioners and several other county officials. The notice of intent to file suit in federal court was also sent to Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb and Attorney General Curtis Hill.

“We have tried to find ways to work with these entities and our efforts have not been successful,” said John McNichols, the museum’s board chairman. “Our efforts have been met with indifference and opposition.”

The museum in past years has used the tracks for excursion trains and the popular Indiana State Fair Train.

But last year the Port Authority refused to allow ITM to use the tracks, citing concerns about the museum’s financial condition and its failure to adequately maintain the tracks for safe operation.

Earlier this year, Fishers Mayor Scott Fadness spoke about pulling up the rails and putting in a hike and bike trail. The mayor rejected a proposal by ITM to construct a trail alongside the tracks.

The track in question extends for 37 miles between Indianapolis and Noblesville, where the ITM is based.

In its notice to sue, ITM said it lost more than $350,000 in revenue because it couldn’t operate its Polar Bear Express trains and another $150,000 from being unable to run the Fair Train.

The notice said the museum was “current on all terms and conditions” of the operating agreement with the port authority at the time it was prevented from using the tracks.

Being prohibited from using the rail line, ITM said, violated its rights under the Fourteenth and Fifth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.

Further, ITM alleges, some public officials defamed the museum, interfered with an established business, breached an agreement, failed to engage in fair dealing, failed to comply with the Indiana Open Meetings and Records Act, and engaged in abuse of process.

In the meantime, four groups have responded to a port authority call for proposals to be the new operators of the rail line.

They include ITM, the Indianapolis Metropolitan Railway of Indianapolis, Hoosier Heritage Railroad of Fishers and Nickel Plate Heritage Railroad of Arcadia.

McNichols said he hoped the parties involved could reach an agreement before the Indiana State Fair begins on Aug. 4.

The port authority had earlier ruled out making a decision in time for an operator to offer the fair train this year.