Posts Tagged ‘Noblesville Indiana’

Visiting the Renovated Hobbs Station

June 29, 2022

Earlier this month tourist train operator Nickel Plate Express and the parks department of Noblesville, Indiana, held a grand opening ceremony to celebrate the renovation of the Hobbs Station site.

The complex will serve as the boarding site for all Nickel Plate Express trains, which operate over a 12.4-mile segment of a former Nickel Plate Road branch line that once ran from Indianapolis to Michigan City, Indiana.

Today Nickel Plate Express trains operate between Noblesville and Atlanta, Indiana.

The station is a former NKP depot that once stood in Hobbs, Indiana, on the former Lake Erie & Western.

It was brought to Noblesville in 1967. The station sits where the former Indiana Transportation Museum sat in Forest Park until being evicted by the city in 2018. Some former rolling stock from the ITM collection is still on site.

Renovation of the Hobbs Station was a $1.6 million project that included landscaping and walking paths, a restroom addition, historic signs and paved parking. A covered platform was constructed in the boarding area.

The station complex re-opened on June 6. Nickel Plate Express operates primarily on Saturdays and offers caboose rides and various theme-train excursions.

I visited the site on June 25 on a day when 15-minute caboose rides were being offered.

Passengers rode in a former Monon caboose pulled by a former NKP GP7.

Noblesville officials hope that the train rides will serve to attract tourist to the expansive park which itself has many attractions including a golf course and merry-go-round.

Grand Opening Set for Renovated Indiana Station

June 9, 2022

Indiana tourist railroad Nickel Plate Express and officials in Noblesville, Indiana, will hold a grand opening on Saturday to celebrate the renovation of the historic Hobbs Station.

The depot is in Forest Park where it has stood since being moved there in 1967.

It was built in 1948 to serve the Nickel Plate Road in Tipton County and was for several years part of the now defunct Indiana Transportation Museum.

The Noblesville Parks & Recreation Department spent $1.6 million to renovate the station, which officially opened on June 6.

The renovation included landscaping and walking paths, a restroom addition, historic signs and paved parking. A covered platform was constructed in the boarding area.

The station will serve as the southern terminus of the 12.4-mile Nickel Plate Express, which operates between Noblesville and Atlanta, Indiana.

During the grand opening on Saturday, the Nickel Plate Express will have departures from Hobbs Station at 10 a.m., 11:15 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. Tickets are $25 per person for the 45-minute excursions.

The first 200 passengers will receive a commemorative Hobbs Station lapel pin.

FtWRHS Acquires ITM Equipment

March 16, 2022

The Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society has obtained seven pieces of equipment once owned by the Indiana Transportation Museum.

The equipment includes two former Milwaukee Road F-units, a former Milwaukee B-unit, a Pennsylvania Railroad hopper, a Nickel Plate Road boxcar, a Louisville & Nashville boxcar, and a Wabash boxcar. 

The Fort Wayne group plans to keep the boxcars but offer the other equipment to other organizations.

Kelly Lunch, vice president of the Fort Wayne group, said a private donor assisted in saving the equipment.

ITM was evicted by the City of Noblesville four years ago from a park that the museum had used for several years.

Some of the equipment saved by the Fort Wayne group had been left behind in Noblesville while other pieces were in Logansport, Indiana, where ITM at one time had sought to establish a new museum site.

The equipment has been moved to private property where restoration efforts are underway.

The Fort Wayne group is best known as the owner and operator of NKP 2-8-4 No. 765.

These Used to be Quite Common

July 25, 2020

When I was a child one of the highlights of car travel was watching for bridges carrying railroad tracks over the highways.

Back in those days it was common for railroads to affix their herald to the side of the bridge or, in some instances, paint their name on the concrete arches of the bridge.

The Pennsylvania Railroad seemed to do a lot of painting of its name on concrete or so it seemed at the time.

A few railroads would spell out their names in other ways on the bridges.

But the most common method of identification was putting the herald on the bridge, typically fastened to the plate girders.

Maybe its my imagination, but it seemed like back the early 1960s nearly every bridge carrying rails over a highway had identification on it.

By the end of the decade, though, the practice seemed to be vanishing.

There probably were a number of factors to explain that including how railroads had lost interest in promoting themselves as they increasingly got out of the passenger business.

Cost was probably another reason. But as much as anything, there probably was a change in thinking by railroads and state highway departments in regards to identifying railroads on their bridges.

Some of these identification signs still exist although some of the heralds have been painted over.

It is rare to see a herald or name of a modern day Class 1 railroad on a bridge, although the CSX herald was placed over that of the Baltimore & Ohio on a bridge west of Lodi, Ohio.

Earlier this year I made it a point to photograph two bridges in Dayton that still had B&O capitol dome heralds on them.

I also made sure to get the Norfolk & Western herald shown above on a bridge in Noblesville, Indiana.

This herald is pretty much hidden by a bridge carrying a hike and bike trail over the White River in downtown Noblesville.

In fact I walked past it a few times before I saw it. Photographing it was a challenge because it was obscured by metal work on the trail bridge. That’s why the photo is angled as it is.

This also is the closest I’ve been to one of these heralds, which used to be quite common in N&W territory.

It has been decades since the N&W owned the rails carrying this bridge over a Noblesville street.

The track now ends a short distance away to the left and is used only by a tourist train, the Nickel Plate Express.

This used to be NKP branch line that ran from Indianapolis to Michigan City, Indiana.

Because it was a branch no one thought it was worth the time or money to remove it.

That was a good thing from my perspective because it gave me a chance to relive those days when we’ve be traveling and I’d see a railroad bridge and I would wonder where those tracks led.

Coming Out Party for NKP Geep

July 6, 2020

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.

Nickel Plate Express to Resume Operations

June 30, 2020

An Indiana tourist railroad plans to return to operations on July 4 and 5 with a series of excursions out of Noblesville, Indiana.

The Nickel Plate Express will operate six trips lasting for 30 minutes within Noblesville on July 4.

Tickets are $10 per passenger and trips will depart from Bolden’s cleaners near the town square at 10 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1 p.m., 2:30 p.m., 6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

On July 6 two trains dubbed the Independence Express will depart from Forest Park in Noblesville for a ride of one hour, 15 minutes.

Trains depart at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 for children and $22 for adults.

Passengers will receive a glass of lemonade and slice of apple pie. All trains are limited to 50 percent capacity to enable social distancing.

Train equipment will be cleaned between trips and passengers are encouraged to wear masks.

The Nickel Plate Heritage Railroad uses a 1956 F9 diesel locomotive originally built for the Erie Mining Company.

Passengers ride in former Santa Fe Hi-Level cars build by the Budd Company. All seating in these cars is on the upper level.

Nickel Plate Express operates on 12 miles of a former Nickel Plate Road branch line between Atlanta and Noblesville.

Indiana Tourist Railroad to Restore NKP GP7

November 20, 2019

Nickel Plate Road GP7 No. 426 pulls the Indiana Fair Train out of the station in Fishers in August 2011.

An Indiana tourist railroad is conducting a fundraising campaign to pay for restoration to operating condition of former Nickel Plate Road GP7 locomotive No. 426.

The Nickel Plate Express, which operates on 12 miles of a former NKP branch that once extended from Indianapolis to Michigan City, Indiana, is seeking to raise $12,000 to buy parts and pay for repairs to the geep, which was once part of the collection of the Indiana Transportation Museum but is now owned by the city of Noblesville, Indiana.

The city came to possess No. 426 after it evicted ITM from its longtime home in Forest Park in Noblesville. The museum left the locomotive behind.

The city took ownership of the locomotive after it failed to sell at an auction held last summer to sell the rolling stock ITM did not move off the property.

The work that needs to be done to restore the engine to operating condition includes resealing 16 head gaskets and repairing a crack in the air compressor.

Parts to make these repairs were ordered in mid October and work will begin after they arrive.

Nickel Plate Express director Dagny Zupin hopes to make the repairs in time for No. 426 to pull the line’s Reindeer Express excursions between Nov. 23 and Dec. 22 between Atlanta and Noblesville.

The tourist line will lease the locomotive, which was built in 1953, from the city of Noblesville.

“If for some reason the parts don’t arrive in time, work will begin as soon as parts are secured,” Zupin said.

No. 426 pulled ITM excursion trains through 2015 when it was forced to stop operating on the former NKP branch that the Nickel Plate Express uses in part.

Most of the branch south of Noblesville has been abandoned and the tracks removed as part of a project to convert the right of way into a hiking and biking trail.

Tracks Being Removed from Street in Indiana City

October 15, 2019

The Nickel Plate Road ran down the middle of Noblesville, the county seat of Hamilton County, Indiana. These tracks are in the process of being removed.

Cross off another section of street running from a dwindling list of such places in the United States.

Workers on Monday began removing the tracks from Eighth Street on the square in downtown Noblesville, Indiana.

For decades a former Nickel Plate Road line from Indianapolis to Michigan City, Indiana, ran through Noblesville in the street between Conner and Division streets.

However, except for the occasional excursion train hosted by the Indiana Transportation Museum the tracks have gone unused.

Noblesville was the home of the ITM until June 2018 when the museum was evicted from its longtime Forest Park home.

Workers had earlier this year removed the ex-NKP rails between the southern edge of Noblesville and 96th Street in Fishers in preparation for transforming the right of way into a hiking and biking trail. The track being removed had opened in March 1851.

Most ex-ITM Equipment Went Unsold at Auction

September 14, 2019

Most of the equipment up for auction this week that once belonged to the Indiana Transportation Museum failed to find a buyer.

Conducted by Ozark Mountain Railcar, the auction resulted in the sale of five of the 17 locomotives and rail cars.

Although the announcement of the auction had said any unsold equipment would be scrapped, a deputy mayor for Noblesville, Indiana, which instigated the auction, said some of the equipment, could get a second chance to be saved.

Steve Cook said some equipment might remain on the site of the museum’s former home in Forest Park on static display while other pieces might be leased to the Nickel Plate Express, a tourist railroad that operates between Atlanta, Indiana, and Noblesville.

Cooke said the city plans to clean up the museum site and transform it into a tourist attraction and southern terminal for the non-profit Nickel Plate Express.

The Nickel Plate Express began operating in 2018 over a former Nickel Plate branch line that once ran between Indianapolis and Michigan City, Indiana.

It used a former Erie Mining Company F9 locomotive and former Santa Fe Hi-Level cars once used by Amtrak.

The portion of the branch between Noblesville and Indianapolis was in previous years used by ITM for its annual Indiana Fairtrain and other excursions.

That right of way is in the process of being dismantled for the establishment of a hiking and biking trail.

Sold this week during the auction were U.S. Navy boxcar No. 4828; Pennsylvania Railroad boxcar No. 497329; Milwaukee Road refrigerator car No. 37191; wooden outside-braced boxcar No. 2, which is believed to be of Wabash Railroad heritage; and PRR Railway Post Office Car No. 6523.

Going unsold were former Amtrak (Great Northern), steam generator car no. 661; Milwaukee Road EMD FP7A no. 96C, which currently wears a Monon Railroad livery; Milwaukee Road EMD F7B No. 68B; PRR Pullman sleeper No. 8007, Philadelphia County; and Santa Fe stainless steel coaches Nos. 3083 and 2400.

Cook said the city has not established when it will scrap the equipment it doesn’t plan to display or provide to Nickel Plate Express.

The museum was evicted from Forest Park in July 2018 by the city and dozens of locomotives and rail cars from its collection were moved elsewhere.

ITM retained possession of some equipment that it moved to Logansport, Indiana, where it hopes to establish a new museum site.

The collection also included Nickel Plate Road 2-8-2 No. 587, which was moved to a museum in Kentucky.

Contract Reached to Sell Ex-NKP Branch Line in Indiana

August 6, 2019

The chances of a former Nickel Plate Road branch line near Indianapolis being saved for possible rail may have suffered a fatal blow last week when the Hoosier Heritage Port Authority reached an agreement with A&K Railroad Materials to sell 22 miles of track.

The Utah-based company is expected to begin pulling up the rails in 30 days. Following that, work will begin on creating a hiking and biking path to be known as the Nickel Plate Trail.

Under the contract, A&K will pay $289,000 for ownership of the track.

Five companies submitted bids to buy the track, which is in place between Noblesville and 38th Street in Indianapolis.

The line has been idle for the past two years after the Port Authority revoked the permission of the Indiana Transportation Museum to use the line for excursion service.

ITM had operated the Indiana Fairtrain between Fishers and the fairgrounds in Indianapolis. In past years the Fairtrain originated near Noblesville. The Fairtrain last operated three years ago.

News reports indicate that A&K plans to sell the track for scrap.

The Nickel Plate Trail will be 4.5 miles in length in Fishers and Noblesville, and 13 miles in length in Indianapolis. It will connect at the fairgrounds with the Monon Trail, which is also built on an abandoned railroad right of way.

Officials have said this will create a 40-mile loop linking Indianapolis, Carmel Westfield, Noblesville and Fishers.

Although the U.S. Surface Transportation Board has allowed the ex-NKP line to be railbanked, meaning it could be rebuilt as a rail line, officials say that seldom occurs.

Advocates for rail service on the ex-NKP line sought to promote a plan of having the trail and the rails co-exist, but Hamilton County officials rejected that on safety grounds. They also contended it would be too expensive.

An Ohio-based company, U.S. Rail Holdings, unsuccessfully sought to get the STB to force the cities to sell it the tracks so it operate freight trains.

Some of the companies that bid in response to a request for proposals to buy the tracks have since suggested that A&K may have overstated the amount of recyclable materials that can be salvaged and underestimated the amount of work involved in removing it.

Three of the five bidders didn’t offer to pay the Port Authority anything for the tracks and instead sought payment of $150,000 to remove them. The fourth bidder offered the Port Authority $7,300.

A report in the Indianapolis Star indicated that A&K will not be removing the rails at road crossings and repaving the torn-up streets afterward, which some estimated could cost more than $1 million.

“I don’t see how the metal alone can bring them that much in salvage fees,” said Joe Conjerti, co-owner of bidder Ohio-based Treno Service.

Another bidder cited the volatile price of scrap metal.

“It is risky,” said James Vibbert, vice president of Indiana-based All Track. “Steel prices are down, and the tonnage they [the cities] advertised was not tonnage that’s there.”

The track in question is owned by the cities of Fishers and Noblesville along with Hamilton County.

Four other companies decided after inspecting the tracks not to bid on the project because, they said, much of it the track was not salvageable because of deterioration or because it was not a coveted steel weight. They said they would be hard-pressed to make their money back.