A Chicago Hub Railroad of the 1930's - 1940's
New York Chicago & St. Louis Railroad
Nickel Plate


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The New York, Chicago & St. Louis Railroad Company (NYC&StL) (Nickel Plate) had a storied 83 year existence. Starting as a single road built with cash, it ended with four districts as a result of acquisitions made over the years. It survived control by the New York Central and a joint venture with the C&O and Pere Marquette, and evolved into a leader in the delivery of freight with its renowned "Nickel Plate High Speed Service" and mighty Berkshires.
It is said that the New York, Chicago & St. Louis Railroad Company was probably the only railroad in the United States built for cash in advance of the issue of stocks and bonds. The subscribers to the founding syndicate agreed to furnish the money in ten percent calls as fast as required (nkh).
During the 30's and 40's the Nickel Plate did not offer much in the way of passenger service out of Chicago. It's two big rivals the NYC and the Pennsy dominated going east to New York, and the Nickel Plate only went as far as Buffalo. It did, however link up with the Lackawanna to provide Pullman and coach service to New York (Hoboken) on two trains, including the Nickel Plate Limited. The NKP was a very successful freight hauler however (rp).
History of the Nickel Plate Road
1880 - Survey made from St. Louis to Fort Wayne, Indiana to provide railroad to connect with the Lake Erie & Western Railroad
Nickel Plate
Nickel Plate
ASO 1941
1881 - Syndicate formed and purchased St.L-FW survey and made two more, Chicago to Fort Wayne, and Fort Wayne to Cleveland
Syndicate drops St.L. survey and instead plans to add Cleveland to Buffalo segment
1881-1882 - Road Chicago to Buffalo built and first train run
1882-1916 - The Lake Shore & Michigan Southern (later NYC), fearing competition from NKP, purchased NKP and held it until 1916, when the Van Sweringen brothers took over
1922 - NKP, now holding 523 mile road from Buffalo to Chicago, acquired controlling interest in th Lake Erie & Western, adding 707 miles from Sandusky, Ohio to Peoria, Illinois, plus two branch lines in Indiana
1922 - NKP affiliates with Toledo St .Louis and Western, adding 453 miles Toledo to St. Louis. NKP now has1683 miles of line
1934 - First 15 Berkshire (2-8-4) locomotives purchased
1940-1945 - Berkshires set records, and 55 more delivered during WW2
1947 - First NKP diesel-electric road locomotive
1949 - Last Lima steam order, 10 Berkshires for NKP.
1949 - NKP leased Wheeling and Lake Erie Railway
1950 - Lightweight passenger cars introduced.
1950's - NKP has 11 Alco PA passenger diesels.
1950's - NKP has great performance and financial success
1958 - Last revenue steam run.
1959 - NKP completely dieselized.
1964 - NKP, Wabash and others merge with Norfolk and Western.
1982 - N&W and Southern combine as Norfolk-Southern (NS).
History of Lake Erie and Western Railroad
1846 - Peru and Indianapolis incorporated
1853 - Fremont & Indiana Railroad incorporated to build from Fremont, Ohio to the Indiana state line
1853-1888 - Construction and acquisitions complete the LE&W
1887 - LE&W acquires P&I
1900 - LE&W becomes part of NYC System
1922 - NKP acquires control of LE&W gaining a gateway to Peoria, Illinois



Lake Erie & Western
June 2, 1915
History of Toledo St. Louis and Western Railroad (Cloverleaf)
1874 - Toledo and Maumee builds a seven mile narrow gauge line in Toledo
1881 - Consolidation of several narrow gauge lines formed the Toledo Cincinnati and St. Louis Railroad
1886 - TC&StL reorganized as Toledo St. Louis and Kansas City (Cloverleaf) after bankruptcy
1887 - Change to standard gauge started
1922 - Cloverleaf acquired by NKP
History of Wheeling and Lake Erie Railway
The Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway was leased by the Nickel Plate on December 1, 1949 for 99 years. The Wheeling brought to the Nickel Plate a gateway to the mid-Atlantic States, access to many coal fields the Wheeling traversed, and the Nickel Plate's first lake port.
1850 - Carroll County Railroad organized
1850-1880 - Line extended west to Canton, Ohio
1881 - Line reaches Cleveland
1883 - Line, now known as Connotton Valley, reaches south to Coshocton
post 1883 - Now a standard gauge line, called Cleveland Canton and Southern Railroad, the line reaches Zanesville
1871-1889 - Original W&LE builds from Toledo to Martins Ferry, Ohio
1891 - W&LE reaches Wheeling on rails of the Wheeling Bridge and Terminal Co., and completes a branch to Steubenville
1899 - W&LE takes control of belt and terminal roads in Cleveland and Zanesville
1899 - CC&S becomes part of the Wheeling
1907 - W&LE gains access to Lorain, Ohio
1913 - W&LE gains shorter access from Cleveland to Toledo through Big Four contract.
1949 - NKP leased Wheeling and Lake Erie Railway

Nickel Plate map


Our Sources
Private Collection of Richard R. Parks(rp)
Wikipedia the free Encyclopedia [web](wik)
Official Guide- April 1940
The Nickel Plate Road® Historical & Technical Society, Inc.(nkh)
Americas Colerful Railroads - Don Ball Jr. (dbj)
Classic Trains - Kalmbach Publishing Co.-spring 2008
Classic Trains - Kalmbach Publishing Co.-summer 2006
Diesel Victory-Kalmbach Publishing Co.
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Web Page Written and Maintained by Richard Parks
Copyright © Richard Parks, April 30, 2009, revised Sept. 14, 2011