NICKEL PLATE ROAD no. 765 – Steam Locomotive
Built for the New York, Chicago, & St. Louis Railroad (commonly known as the Nickel Plate Road or NKP) in 1944, no. 765 was constructed by the Lima Locomotive Works as one of eighty Berkshire-type locomotives ordered by the railroad. The Berkshire design was one of the most significant developments in locomotive technology during the 20th Century as it combined new technologies and steaming methods to simultaneously improve upon both speed and horsepower, permitting railroads to operate larger trains at higher, sustained speeds. The design relied on the creation of a new wheel arrangement and locomotive classification known as the 2-8-4: two leading wheels, eight main driving wheels, and four trailing wheels.
Designated a locomotive of the “S-2” class, the 765 commonly operated in freight and passenger service for the railroad between Chicago, Fort Wayne, and Bellevue, Ohio until June of 1958. It was last in service to provide power for a stranded passenger train in Fort Wayne that following winter, making it the last Nickel Plate Road Berkshire under steam for the railroad.
During its time in service, no. 765 had earned the reputation as a dependable machine and was well liked by local crews. As a result, the 765 was placed in store inside the East Wayne engine house in New Haven, Indiana until the early 1960s when it was selected by the railroad for donation and preservation to the City of Fort Wayne. In 1963, the locomotive was renumbered 767 for ceremonial purposes and installed in Lawton Park at the corner of 4th and Clinton Streets. By 1972, the condition of the locomotive had deteriorated and the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society was formed to preserve and eventually restore the locomotive to operation. By 1974, the locomotive was removed from the park and operational by 1979. Since then it has served primarily in public exhibition and passenger excursion service through 16 states. In 2001, no. 765 underwent an $800,000 rebuild effort completed that was completed in 2005.
WABASH RAILROAD no. 534/LAKE ERIE & FORT WAYNE no. 1 – Steam Locomotive
Built for the Wabash Railroad in 1906 by the Rock Island Works of the American Locomotive Company, no. 534 is a B-7 steam locomotive. Throughout its service life as a switch engine or “switcher,” no. 534 assembled trains in terminals, stations, and railroad yards, and eventually near Fairfield and Grant Streets in Fort Wayne. In 1957, it was leased to the Lake Erie & Fort Wayne Railroad (LEFW) and used to switch the steel mills at Taylor Street. As one of the last operating steam locomotives in Fort Wayne and the only remaining locomotive for the LEFW, it was donated to the city and placed on display in Sweeney Park. In 1984, it was donated to the railroad historical society and moved to New Haven. It is one of two remaining Wabash steam locomotives in the country and the oldest in the state of Indiana. It is in need of a mechanical evaluation for restoration candidacy.
UNITED STATES ARMY no. 1231 – Diesel Locomotive
Built in 1953 for the US Army by the Davenport Besler Corporation, no. 1231 performed as a switcher for at the Casad Military Depot. It was donated to the railroad historical society in 1985. No. 1231 serves as the shop switcher, powers caboose trips and the Santa Train, and is available to rent as part of our Engineer for an Hour program.
NICKEL PLATE ROAD no. 358/NORFOLK SOUTHERN no. 58 – Diesel Locomotive
UNITED STATES ARMY no. 89665/FWRHX no. 701 – Steam Support Vehicle
Built by the St. Louis Car Company for the US Army in 1953 as a kitchen car, it was stored for over twenty years before being acquired by the Kentucky Railroad Museum and used as a concession car. In 1979, it was utilized on the 765’s first excursions to Argos, Indiana in July, 1980. It has been converted into a tool car for use on excursions with the 765. Changes include a generator, workbenches, tool cabinets, welder, steam locomotive servicing equipment and supplies, and some seating.
UNITED STATES ARMY no. 160505
Built by the St. Louis Car Company for the US A in 1953, no. 89554 car saw little notable service after the Korean War until it became part of an Air Force Missile Train Prototype in 1960. In 1973, it became Amtrak Baggage Dormitory no. 1424, then Wreck Dormitory no. 16505 until it was purchased by Bob McCown who donated it in 2009.
UNITED STATES ARMY no. XYXYX/XYXYX
NICKEL PLATE ROAD RAILWAY POST OFFICE no. 31
This car was built for Nickel Plate predecessor Lake Erie & Western in 1914 by the Standard Steel Car Company. After the Nickel Plate absorbed the LE&W in 1922, it became #831 on the Nickel Plate roster. This car had U.S. Post Office clerks sorting mail for each town along the trains route, urgent business in its day. It was downgraded to maintenance of way service, probably after World War II. The car was donated to the N&W in 1974. This car is in deteriorated condition. Restoration is a goal, but no work or planning has been started. This car is also stored off-site.
NICKEL PLATE ROAD no. 141 – Caboose
Originally built for the Lake Erie & Western Railroad as a four-wheel caboose in the early 1900s, no. 141 was modified with additional wheels and lengthened for the Nickel Plate Road. Preserved in the 1960s by John Keller, it was donated to the society in 1975, underwent an extensive restoration in the early 2000s, and is in use during caboose trips and the Santa Train. It is the only remaining Lake Erie & Western caboose.
WABASH RAILROAD no. 2543 – Caboose
Built for the Wabash in the early 1900s, the caboose served the railroad until 1957, and underwent modifications by the railroad and its crews that included benches, storage cabinets, an icebox, sink, and water tank, as well as a stove cast at the Fort Wayne foundry. It was placed on display in Sweeney Park in 1957 with no. 1 and donated to the society in 1985. It is currently undergoing an extensive rebuild.
NICKEL PLATE ROAD no. 451 – Caboose
Built in 1962 for the Nickel Plate Road by the International Car Company in Kenton, Ohio, no. 451 was part of the railroad’s last caboose orders. In the 1980s the caboose was retired and obtained by a private owner. N0. 451 is undergoing work for on-site operations and caboose rides and is cosmetically restored.
NICKEL PLATE ROAD BOXCAR no. X-83074 – Boxcar
Built for the Lake Erie & Western in 1902 by the Haskell & Barker Company in Michigan City, Indiana as no. 43074.
MILWAUKEE ROAD UTRX no. 37314 and DUBUQUE MEATS URTZ no. 63605 and no. 63610
Built in 1948 and 1954 respectively, these ice-activated reefers are typical of the cars pulled by the 765 during its career. The fast freight trains of eastbound perishables moved at 60mph, earning the Nickel Plate Railroad its reputation for “high-speed service”. These cars are stored off-site at the corner of Ryan and Edgerton Road. Plans call for them to be moved to the Edgerton Road restoration facility in the future.
MAINTENANCE OF WAY
NORFOLK & WESTERN no. 540019 – 200-ton crane
Built by the Industrial Works of Bay City, Michigan for the Virginian Railroad in 1922 and transferred to the Norfolk & Western Railway after the 1959 acquisition. It last saw service in Fort Wayne around 1986. Originally built as steam powered, the crane was converted to diesel power in 1959. Its lifting capacity is rated for 90 tons at a radius of 28 feet and 200 tons at 17 feet. It weighs approximately 356,000 pounds. The long boom and lifted load is counterbalanced by a massive counter weight on the rear of the cab. The crane has seen occasional use, but needs extensive work.
NICKEL PLATE ROAD SPEEDER no. 1117 – motor car
Nickel Plate Road speeder no. 1117 is a motorized track inspection and maintenance of way vehicle that allowed railroad employees to move materials and personnel along the railroad. It’s restoration is nearly complete, with engine and electrical work still pending.