Sunday, October 5, 2014

NKP: Nickel Plate Road

Update: see Delphos, OH, for a history of the Cloverleaf by Mike Snow.
Update: the labels abanCloverleaf and abanNKP-LEW have been defined to identify towns in the Towns and Nature blog that were on these abandoned routes. Example are Cowden, IL and Paxton, IL.

Nickel Plate Road was the popular name for the New York, Chicago and St. Louis Railroad. The reporting mark, NKP, was based on the nickname. While I took a trip along Indiana State Road 28, I knew I was going along a Norfolk Southern track because of my stop in Frankfort to take a picture of a coaling tower. In one of the towns I saw a street name of Nickel Plate. The Nickel Plate got absorbed by Norfolk Western which then became part of Norfolk Southern, but I was surprised that the NKP was this far south. My home town is Fort Wayne, IN, and I knew that NKP's mainline went across northern Indiana. On my trip back, when I spotted the Nickel Plate engine in Tipton, IN, I knew it was time to research the NKP when I got home. A system map shows that the NKP tracks were all over the northern half of Indiana. I'm reminded that before trucks and paved roads were developed, a lot of railroad routes were needed. The four districts gave the NKP system access to several gateway cities -- Chicago, Peoria, St. Louis, Indianapolis, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, and Wheeling. It benefited from good management and became a strong bridge system. The Clover Leaf District would be why St. Louis is in the railroad's official name.

The railroad industry started another round of mergers in the 1960s. For example, NYC+PRR -> PC, Erie+Lackawanna -> Erie Lackawanna and B&O+C&O -> Chessie. Since the Norfolk & Western wanted its own access to the midwest and Chicago, it agreed to merge with the NKP. The 1964 merger also absorbed some smaller systems that asked to be a part of the merger. Those systems were the Wabash; Akron, Canton & Youngstown, and Pittsburgh & West Virginia. (AmericanRails) The Norfolk & Western, in turn, became part of the Norfolk Southern.

The route that parallels IN-28 and the route that crosses IN-28 in Tipton are part of the Lake Erie & Western District. To help determine who now owns which segments of the NKP in Indiana, I first augmented the INDOT map with Paint to highlight the different districts by adding colored lines using the colors of the system map. The lines are below or to the right of the NKP lines.

Blue is the NKP mainline, yellow is the Lake Erie & Western, and green is the Toledo, St. Louis & Western, nicknamed the Cloverleaf. Both the LE&W and Cloverleaf were absorbed by the NKP in 1923. (A Railroad Atlas of the United States in 1946, p viii.) See below for a better map of the Cloverleaf.

INDOT plus Paint
In the "now" maps, I do it by districts to avoid running out of colors. The Nickel Plate District is easy -- it is now all part of the Norfolk Southern.The Clover Leaf District is now NS (blue), Central Railroad of Indianapolis RR (green), Wabash Central RR (yellow), and Unknown (black).

INDOT plus Paint

The Lake Erie and Western District is now NS (blue); Chicago, Southshore, & South Bend RR (yellow); Fulton County RR (orange); Hoosier Heritage Port Authority (red).
Kankakee, Beaverville, & Southern RR (green); C & NC RR (pink); and Honey Creek RR (black). (Update: details concerning the Peoria Division of the LE&W. The current status of the entire east/west route)
INDOT plus Paint
The Nickel Plate was built between 1881 and 1882. That was late during the railroad building era. The NKP got through Fort Wayne by buying the path of the Wabash & Erie Canal, which was abandoned in 1874. (archfw) For decades, I have been curious how the NKP gained access to Chicago. I found the following map in a discussion of the LaSalle Street Station. The NKP line paralleled the Illinois Central line and then joined the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railway, which was part of the NYC system. Initially it used the NYC track to get to its own depot at the northwest corner of Roosevelt Road (12th Street) and Clark Street. Soon after the NKP was built, NYC gained control of it to kill the competition, and then NKP was allowed to use the LaSalle Street station as a tenant. In anticipation of the implications of the Clayton Antitrust Act, NYC sold the NKP in 1916, but it continued to operate into LaSalle until the end of NKP passenger service.



The south part of the passenger service route still exists to serve industry along the track. But most of the passenger extension has now been torn up. But you can still see a land scar of the old route in a satellite image. The image to the right indicates the abandoned trackage with the red line. All of the remaining trackage of NKP in the Chicago area is now owned by and operated by the Norfolk Southern.

Update: Pictures of the north/south route in Sharpsville, IN in Facebook. The comments provide more information. Info on the abandonment of the Cl;overleaf in Ohio in Facebook.

Posted by Jacob Hortenstine and enhanced by Tom Watson in Facebook
Van Buren, IN
Update: a better map of the Cloverleaf (Toledo, St. Louis & Western), the brown line.

Rails and Trails

Mike Snow posted an extensive comment about the Cloverleaf history.

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