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American Railroad Steam Locomotives | Nickel Plate Road - MS 978 mf

Introduction | Agency History | Scope and Content | Order of Microfilming


The American Railroad Steam Locomotive collection associated with the Nickel Plate Road, was transferred for microfilming to the Center for Archival Collections in November 2002, through the cooperation of Wayne York and the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society, Inc., with processing assistance from Wayne and Michael York, Wapakoneta, OH and technical assistance from Jim Kreider, Riverside, California. The collection consists of photographs and approximately 950 tracings, blueprints, and drawings, 1934-1958.

The finding aid adapted by Marilyn Levinson, Curator of Manuscripts, in March 2003 from material compiled by Wayne York. A full inventory is located on the microfilm reels

Agency History

From the mid 1800's to the mid 1900's, railroads dominated land transportation in America. The railroads carried America from the age of the horse and buggy and the canal to the age of airliners, freeways and space travel. The Pacific Railroad, its creation pushed by Abraham Lincoln and completed in 1869, tied the United States into one nation. Railroads had strategic significance in times of war and were essential to winning World War II on the home front. It was perhaps, railroading's finest hour.

The most visible symbol of the railroad was the steam locomotive, and it reached its full flower of development during the late 1930's and early 1940's. One of the more successful designs were the "Berkshire" type used on the Nickel Plate Road (the correct corporate name was New York, Chicago and St. Louis Railroad Company) and other lines. It was not the heaviest, fastest, or most powerful, but was a popular all-around type intended for fast freight service. It survived in regular use until 1958, between Chicago, Fort Wayne, Cleveland and Buffalo. The Nickel Plate was one of the last Class One railroads to regularly use steam locomotives, only the Illinois Central, Norfolk and Western and Grand Trunk Western were to continue longer, until spring 1960.

The Nickel Plate Road had a fleet of 112 of the 2-8-4 Berkshire type steam locomotives. After retirement, most obsolete locomotives were cut up for scrap and melted down. A total of six were saved by various means. Five survivors were from the second batch of the S-2 Class, 755-769, which were built at the height of World War II in summer and fall 1944. The sixth survivor was from the S-3 Class, 770-779, built in spring 1949. The 779 was requested to be saved because it was the last steam locomotive of any type built by the Lima Locomotive Works, Lima, Ohio, the third largest commercial builder of steam locomotives in the United States.

The survivors are as follows, as of this writing in April 2002:

755 was overhauled in early 1958 and only test operated. In 1963 it was given to the City of Conneaut, Ohio, which was the home of the Nickel Plate's major locomotive shop facilities. The Conneaut Historical Railroad Museum is housed in the former NYC passenger station and the 755 is exhibited outdoors along with a B & L E hopper car and caboose.

757 was stored outdoors at Bellevue, Ohio, the site of the Nickel Plate's major junction and classification yard. The Nickel Plate held the locomotive for exhibit at Bellevue but the community never completed an exhibit site. In 1964, the Nickel Plate Road merged into the Norfolk and Western Railway. In 1966, the N & W donated the 757 to the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, Strasburg. There are dozens of locomotives there.

759 was overhauled in early 1958 and stored indoors at Conneaut, Ohio, until it was sold in 1962 to F. Nelson Blount for his Steamtown, USA development at Bellows Falls, Vermont. In 1968, the 759 was leased to the High Iron Company, Lebanon, NJ for restoration to service for special excursions. 759 operated around the northeastern US with one trip to Kansas City, until May 1971. After being stored two years, it returned to the mainline for several trips in 1973 and it has not operated since. Steamtown USA and the 759 moved to Scranton, PA in the 1980's and in the 1990's became part of the National Park Service.

763 was stored out of doors and remained on railroad property until 1966 when it was sent to N & W headquarters city Roanoke, VA and the Roanoke Transportation Museum. It has remained there outdoors continuously except for one trip to Elizabethport, NJ, in 1975, for evaluation for restoration on the American Freedom Train. The RTM was later relocated across Roanoke and renamed the Virginia Museum of Transportation.

765 was fired-up for stationary boiler service in early December 1958, was stored indoors at first and later outdoors at New Haven, IN. In 1963 the City of Fort Wayne accepted the Nickel Plate Road's offer to donate a retired steam locomotive for public display. The City requested the 767 which had opened the downtown grade separation project in 1955. Although the 767 was still in existence in New Haven, it was in much worse condition that the 765. After a quiet renumbering and repainting, the second "767" was placed on display in Fort Wayne's Lawton Park and the first 767 was sold for scrap. The Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society, Inc. was formed in 1972 and that group leased and moved the locomotive in 1975. When an overhaul was begun in 1976, the Berkshire was renumbered back to her original "765". The 765 operated over 50,000 miles from 1979 to 1993, all of them east of the Mississippi River. Full ownership was conveyed from the City in 1985. As this is written, an overhaul is in the works to return the 765 to service for her "third" career.

779 was retired at Conneaut, Ohio, in early 1958. The City of Lima, OH, requested her donation due to her special place in Lima's history. She was delivered to Lima in 1963 and she was stored indoors until her permanent home in Lima's Lincoln Park was completed in 1966. Her shelter is enclosed on one side and one end. The other two sides are covered with chain link fence. Also located in the Lincoln Park Railroad Exhibit are NKP wooden caboose 1091 and NKP wooden Official Car 5.

Due to their general purpose design and mid-size range (not too big or heavy, not too small nor slow to coexist with present day railroad operations, combined with their relatively good mechanical condition, leaves this group of six locomotives as prime candidates for future restoration for special trains and special occasions. With that possibility, it seems worthwhile to preserve a nearly complete set of mechanical drawings for the six remaining Nickel Plate Road S-2 and S-3 class "Berkshire" type steam locomotives. After all, the Smithsonian's JOHN BULL was revived on her 150th birthday!

The drawings themselves were the set that the Nickel Plate Road used to maintain the fleet until the end of steam (July 1958) at their main, and last, steam repair shops at Conneaut, Ohio. These are all original, linen tracings except as noted. Such drawings would have been used at the NKP's other steam shops, roundhouses, and at the company headquarters in Terminal Tower, Cleveland, OH. Although many blueprints exist, none of the other original tracings are known to exist. These drawings were discovered in December 1999 and the owner agreed to loan them in order to establish such a record. The Nickel Plate Road Historical and Technical Society, New Haven, IN. made a major contribution to making this microfilm project possible. Robert McCown, Seabrook, MD also made a major contribution towards this project. Also contributing missing drawings are Jim Kreider of Riverside, CA and Truson Buegel of Downey, CA.

Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society, Inc., Board of Directors (April 2002)

  • Tom Nitza, President, Fort Wayne, IN
  • Glenn Brendel, Vice-President, Fort Wayne, IN
  • Wayne York, Secretary, Wapakoneta, OH
  • Mike Guptail, Treasurer, Fort Wayne, IN
  • Jim Butt, New Haven, IN
  • Rich Melvin, Operations Officer, Poland, OH
  • Ben Sollenberger, Fort Wayne, IN
  • Mark St. Aubin, Redford Township, MJ
  • Steve Winicker, Chief Mechanical Officer, Knox, IN

The loan of the drawings, the inventory of same, and preparation for microfilming was largely handled by father and son team Wayne and Michael York, Wapakoneta, OH with technical assistance from Jim Kreider, Riverside, California, who has been preserving NKP drawings for over 30 years.

Scope and Content

American Railroad: Steam Locomotives: Nickel Plate Road - Ohio, Indiana, IL, PA, NY

Blueprints, drawings and tracings 1934-1958. A full inventory is located on the microfilm reels.

compiled by Wayne York
Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society, Inc.
P.O. Box 11015
Fort Wayne, IN 46855

April 2002

1 - Title Page and Index

2 - Introduction

5 - FWRHS Official History Booklet, Locomotive 765. By Brendel & York - 1980.

25 - Official Diagram, Specification Card, Selected Monthly and Annual Reports and miscellaneous mechanical documents

43 - Photographs

  • a-Locomotive 757, new, Lima Locomotive Works, right broadside view
  • b-same, Lima, OH, left broadside view, 1944
  • c-same, right 7/8 view, front
  • d-same, left 7/8 view, front
  • e-same, cab interior (fireman on left side, engineer on right side)
  • f-same, front vertical view
  • g-NKP 765 under Bellevue, OH, coal dock. Richard Cook Photo, vertical shot
  • h-NKP 765 under Bellevue, OH, coal dock. Richard Cook Photo, horizontal shot
  • i-NKP 765 arrives in Bellevue Yard with Second OB-2, EB fast freight. R. Cook
  • j-NKP 765 eastbound with refrigerator cars at Cornell Rd., Cleveland, OH June 21, 1946. Onerio L. Sabetto photo
  • k-NKP 765 eastbound at Cedar Ave., Cleveland, OH, with passenger train #7, July 6, 1946. Photo by Onerio L. Sabetto
  • l-NKP 779 enroute to Chicago Railroad Fair at Cleveland, OH, July 1949. Official NKP Photo by John D. Burger, collection of John B. Corns
  • m-NKP 765 at E. Wayne Yards, New Haven, IN Oct. 3, 1953. W. Swartz photo
  • n-NKP 765 at Hobart, IN Feb.1958. Color view by Russ Porter, Wm. Eley coll.
  • o-same, rear 7/8 view, color.

58 - Inventory of Tracings, Blueprints and Drawings for Nickel Plate Road S-2 and S-3 Class steam locomotives-sorted by increasing sizes (1-12)

77 - Tracings, Blueprints and Drawings- total of approximately 950

Order of Microfilming

Roll 1

  1. Index
  2. Introduction
  3. Historical Booklet
  4. Misc. Documents
  5. Photographs
  6. Inventory
  7. Tracings, Blueprints & Drawings - 10 1 10 to 81 3 38

Roll 2

  1. Inventory
  2. Tracings, Blueprints & Drawings - 81 3 84 to 95 12 269

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