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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 creating 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 the 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, racking up hundreds of thousands of miles, entertaining millions of people, and accomplishing numerous landmark achievements. In 2001, no. 765 underwent an $800,000 rebuild effort completed that was completed in 2005. Its next major overhaul is scheduled for 2031. For more information on the 765, click here.

NICKEL PLATE ROAD no. 358 – Diesel Locomotive

No. 358 was one of twenty diesel locomotives built by Electro-Motive to replace the Nickel Plate Road’s steam engine fleet, which included Nickel Plate Road Berkshire-type steam locomotive no. 765. Designated as “Special Duty” locomotives, the SD9-type locomotive helped end the era of steam power thanks to their reduced maintenance costs. The 358 went on to serve Norfolk & Western and Norfolk Southern for decades before it was retired. The 358 will be the only operational Nickel Plate SD9 to look as it did when new and the only one to operate in rail tourism service. The 358 is due to enter service pending final mechanical and electrical work in late 2023/early 2024.

More than 12,000 volunteer hours and six years have been invested into the 358’s restoration and the work was also supported by over $100,000 in financial and in-kind contributions. In addition to Progress Rail, successor to Electro-Motive, and its employees, supporters have included Steel Dynamics, Nickel Plate Railroad Historical & Technical Society, Crown Battery, Mid America Railcar Leasing, Horizon Rail, and numerous private individuals with locomotive expertise. For more information on the 358, click here.

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 at the Casad Military Depot. It was donated to the in 1985. No. 1231 serves as the primary shop switcher at our restoration facility in New Haven, Indiana.

US NAVY no. 65-00144 – Diesel Locomotive

Built in August 1942, this 50-ton Plymouth originally worked Cyclops Steel in PA as no. 25, then went to Marble Cliff Quarries, Columbus, Ohio. It moved north to Walton Agri Services at Upper Sandusky, Ohio, and absorbed into the Nourse Railroad Collection in Delaware, Ohio. It was acquired

UNITED STATES ARMY no. 89665/FWRX 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 seating.


Like the Emery, this former Santa Fe baggage car was originally built in 1955 and acquired via a donation from Amtrak in 2019. Thanks to a grant from the David A. Donhoo Trust and Central Indiana Foundation, the car was upgraded into a head-end-power car that produces 480v of electricity for the passenger train, a vital necessity in daily operation. It carries two 300kw diesel-electric generators and a store room for passenger train supplies.

The David A. Donoho was built for approximately $85,000.

JOHN H. EMERY – Open Air Baggage Car
FWRX No. 3671

A former Atchison Topeka and Santa Fe baggage car that once traveled some of the railroad’s most celebrated passenger trains, the John H. Emery was repurposed into an open-air car in 2022, enabling riders to enjoy the sights and sounds of historic railroading and the great outdoors.

Built in 1955 by the American Car & Foundry at St. Charles, MO, this stainless steel baggage car operated on The Chief, Super Chief, El Capitan, Grand Canyon, and many others.

These trains were part of the Golden Age of Railroading, circa 1920-1960, and this car routinely carried the shipments, personal effects, and luggage for passengers and railroad customers on a 2,227-mile journey between Chicago and Los Angeles. Between Santa Fe and later Amtrak, the car is estimated to have accumulated several million miles during its 64 years of regular passenger train service.

Acquired by the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society in 2019, the organization has transformed the baggage car into a unique open-air passenger car so that guests can enjoy the sights and sounds of historic railroading. It is named after the late John H. Emery, a lifelong railroad enthusiast, whose generous endowment to the Emery Rail Heritage Trust guarantees that the Golden Age of Railroading will continue to be preserved and enjoyed. In 2022, this car was completed with the assistance of their $10,000 grant and over 2,000 hours contributed by our members. The Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society is proud to name this former Santa Fe car in John Emery’s honor.

It features an open floor plan, a spacious bar, historic lighting and decor, and four large gated doors. The Emery, as it’s affectionately called, can host approximately 40 passengers and is a popular spot on every train.

The Emery was restored for $34,000

FWRX No. 194

Constructed in 1948, the Silver Diner was once featured on the California Zephyr which operated between Chicago, Denver, Salt Lake City, and San Fransisco. After 70 years in service by the Chicago Burlington and Quincy Railroad and later Amtrak, the car was retired in 2016, acquired from Amtrak in 2019, and restored in 2022.

The railroad dining car is a celebrated space – and today, even more of a rarity, as on-board services on existing passenger railroads have changed and many dining cars retired.

Work to recondition the car included extensive cleaning, HVAC repairs, cosmetic work, new window gaskets, curtains, roof leaks, and other items. The Silver Diner can host up to 40 passengers and includes catering and buffet counter space and provides onboard refrigeration.

The Silver Diner is one of four surviving cars from the original Zephyr dining car fleet and volunteers contributed over 3,000 volunteer hours to its reconditioning. It serves as a first-class lounge and dining car during excursions and events.

The Silver Diner was restored for $55,000.

FWRX 142 and 148

Constructed as sleeping cars in 1949, the Inn cars served the Pennsylvania Railroad’s named passenger trains and operated through Fort Wayne, Indiana during their original careers.

Converted to traditional coaches in 1963 for the World’s Fair in New York City, the cars wound their way through commuter train service until they were eventually obtained and renovated by the National Railway Historical Society (DCNRHS) in 2008. The Inns operated in occasional rail excursion service and were in limited seasonal use when they were purchased in mid-2022. Shortly before their acquisition, the cars were used to portray a 1970s-era commuter train in the Tom Hanks film A Man Called Otto. 

Offering comfortable, climate-controlled interiors, the Inn set also includes ADA-compatible seating and an ADA restroom, a much-needed amenity in tourist train service. Like the Silver Diner, John H. Emery, the Inn cars will require an ongoing maintenance fund for future preservation work and improvements.


UNITED STATES ARMY no. 160505 and no. 89516

Two former United States Army Hospital cars were acquired by the Fort Wayne Railroad throughout the last 15 years, the first through a donation from member Bob McCowan, and the second through purchase from the Steam Railroading Institute in 2011.

Originally constructed by the St. Louis Car Company for use in the Korean War in 1953, the cars saw little notable service as they were finished near the end of the conflict. They originally featured an operating table, retractable berths, showers, doctors’ quarters, nurse desks, a small kitchen, and “casualty doors” for loading patients on stretchers.

One car became part of an Air Force Missle Train Prototype in 1960 and was later converted into a baggage dormitory car by Amtrak in 1973. Another was adapted into service for Artrain and housed traveling exhibits in the state of Michigan.

These former hospital cars have been considered for conversion into first-class cars or dining cars that meet ADA specifications, as generous door sizes and load-in areas can easily accommodate wheelchair lifts and ADA restrooms.

A third car, built as No. 89552 was absorbed by Headwaters Junction, now Pufferbelly Junction, for static display and use in downtown Fort Wayne.


This car was built for Nickel Plate predecessor Lake Erie & Western (LE&W) in 1914 by the Standard Steel Car Company. After the Nickel Plate absorbed the LE&W in 1922, it became no. 831 on the Nickel Plate roster. This car had U.S. Post Office clerks sorting mail for each town along the train route, urgent business in its day. It was downgraded to the maintenance of way service most likely after World War II. The car was donated by the Norfolk & Western Railroad 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. The 451 is cosmetically restored, and undergoing mechanical improvements for operations offsite.


Built for the Lake Erie & Western in 1902 by the Haskell & Barker Company in Michigan City, Indiana as no. 43074. It has been completely rebuilt by volunteers.

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 due for cosmetic restoration.


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 are counterbalanced by a massive counterweight 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.