The Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society has received the incredible donation of vintage diesel locomotive no. 57. Constructed in 1957 for the Nickel Plate Road as no. 358, the SD9 type locomotive was built to replace the railroadâ€™s venerable Nickel Plate Berkshire type steam locomotives, including the societyâ€™s own steam engine, no. 765.
In its 50 years of service, no. 57 survived a 1964 merger with Norfolk & Western, which later became Norfolk Southern in 1990. A powerful hauler capable of 1,750 horsepower, the unit was finally retired in 2007.
Initial plans call for the diesel to be returned to its original as-built Nickel Plate black and imitation gold paint scheme and number. The society hopes to eventually return the locomotive to operating condition and is conducting a mechanical inspection to determine the cost of its restoration, though a lot of significant work will be necessary.
Restoration to operation means potential tandem service between the 765 and 358/57 in excursion and public exhibition service and the society is accepting donations to cosmetically rehabilitate and mechanically rebuild the locomotive. No. 358/57 joins the ranks of additional Nickel Plate Road equipment owned and operated by the society, including the 765 and two historic cabooses.
This donation enables the society to visibly demonstrate the important transition from steam-era locomotive production and operation to the modern diesel era as it occurred in the mid to late 1950s.
The society extends its heartfelt thanks to Norfolk Southern for the opportunity to rehabilitate a vintage locomotive from its own corporate heritage and for their continued recognition and support of the societyâ€™s operation.