Steam Through Lakewood!

Norfolk Southern Railway has announced the tours of two steam locomotives on its lines this year as part of its 21st Century Steam Program. One will be coming through Lakewood on Mother’s Day, May 12. It is Nickel Plate Road #765, a 2-8-4 Berkshire steam locomotive that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The 2-8-4 designation of a Berkshire-type locomotive indicates it has 2 pony or leading wheels, 8 large driving wheels, and 4 trailing wheels.  Standing 15 feet tall, the Berkshire is capable of speeds over 60 mph.

The Nickel Plate Road, formally known as the New York, Chicago & St. Louis Railroad, was originally laid through Rockport Township (Lakewood) in the 1880s. In 1964, Norfolk & Western acquired the Nickel Plate Road and, in 1982, Norfolk & Western merged with the Southern Railway to become Norfolk Southern.

#765 was built for the Nickel Plate in 1944 by the Lima Locomotive Works in Lima, Ohio. Weighing just over 400 tons, the Nickel Plate had some 80 Berkshires. Diesels spelled the end of steam locomotives and, after only 14 years, #765 was retired in 1958. She sat on display in Fort Wayne, Indiana and weathered for over a decade. In 1972, the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society was formed to save the deteriorating locomotive and over many years of hard work and several rebuilds, brought her back to her 1944 condition.

In recent years, Norfolk Southern has taken renewed pride in its heritage.  Recently, NS painted an entire fleet of new diesel locomotives in the various colors and logos of predecessor railroads, including the Nickel Plate Road and Norfolk & Western. The other steam locomotive running on NS lines this year is Southern Railway #630, another predecessor railroad of NS.

On May 12, #765 will steam westbound from Cleveland and through Lakewood. She is tentatively scheduled to stop and pick up prepaid passengers at the Rocky River depot sometime around 9:00-9:30 a.m. and then continue west through Rocky River, Bay Village, Avon Lake, Lorain, Vermillion and to Bellevue Yard.  #765 and her train will return eastbound later in the day. 

Great spots to watch in Lakewood will be behind the fences at Cove, Bunts-Merle, Kaufmann, and Webb parks. Remember to stay off the track and railroad right-of-way as that is trespassing, dangerous, and illegal. Expect an increased presence of railroad police and officials.

For further information, go to the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society and Norfolk Southern websites.

Edward Favre

Retired Sergeant Lakewood Police Lakewood Board of Education

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Volume 9, Issue 9, Posted 10:39 PM, 04.30.2013