NICKEL PLATE ROAD no. 757

Constructed in 1944 by the Lima Locomotive Works, no. 757 was once one of 80 technologically advanced, fast-freight steam locomotives on the roster of the Nickel Plate Road. Retired in 1958 and stored in Bellevue throughout the 1960s before being transferred to the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, it is now one of six preserved Nickel Plate Berkshires that remain in existence.

The 757’s home terminal was Bellevue, Ohio where it and its sister engines were charged with operating manifest freight and  freight trains between Chicago, Fort Wayne, Indiana, Conneaut, Ohio and Buffalo, New York. These engines soon became icons of the railroad and ubiquitous throughout the system.

The Berkshires were especially liked by their crews and regarded as some of the finest steam locomotives in the Midwest. Weighing 440,800lbs, the 757 could operate at speeds in excess of 60MPH and pull some of the longest and heaviest freight trains of the day. TRAINS Magazine would later proclaim that the Berkshires were “engines that saved a railroad.”

Notable among the remaining S-2 class Berkshires are no. 759, which was briefly restored and operated in the late 1960s and early 1970s and now resides at the Steamtown National Historic Site in Scranton, Pennsylvania. In addition, the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society restored regularly operates Nickel Plate Berkshire no. 765 in public exhibition and excursion service throughout the area – including Bellevue. Other survivors include the 755 in Conneaut, Ohio; 763 in Sugarcreek, Ohio; and the 779 in Lima, Ohio.

The Berkshires all had an iconic sound from their “shot gun” exhaust to their strident whistles. Listen to Nickel Plate Berkshire no. 779 in this vintage recording.

THE MAD RIVER & NICKEL PLATE RAILROAD MUSEUM

The Mad River & Nickel Plate Railroad Museum is a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation founded in 1976 as a local Bicentennial project by volunteers.

In 40 years the museum has collected 50 pieces of railroad equipment, countless artifacts, five buildings, 10 acres of property and a rail viewing platform and park, making it the largest rail museum in the state of Ohio. This has been accomplished with mainly volunteer labor and no government assistance. On average, 2-3 pieces of equipment receive a paint job every year. Considering most of the equipment is outdoors, this commitment is essential to preserve the collection.

The museum is named after the two railroads that had the most impact on Bellevue’s development. The Mad River & Lake Erie Railroad (MR&LE) was the very first railroad to be chartered in Ohio. Bellevue had rail service by the mid-1830s, much earlier than most developing towns of the day. Bellevue was only 20 miles south of the MR&LE’s Northern Terminal, the lake port of Sandusky.

In 1882, the Nickel Plate Road (NKP) built through the town of Bellevue. Bellevue was the half way point between Chicago, Illinois and Buffalo, New York on the NKP mainline. Bellevue went on to become the largest classification terminal on the NKP, and even today Moorman Yard is the largest terminal on the modern-day Norfolk Southern.

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Project Coordinators

Dwayne Fuehring – Project Manager

Dwayne was born and raised in Bellevue Ohio and grew up working with the Mad River & Nickel Plate Railroad Museum and Golden Age Railroad Equipment Inc. Dwayne spent several years working on excursion trains and private car trips. In 1991 and 1992, while in High School, Dwayne worked his summers maintaining and painting locomotives for the Central Railroad of Indianapolis.

From 1995 to present, Dwayne has worked for Norfolk Southern and has held positions as Conductor, Remote Control Operator, Engineer, and Yardmaster. He currently serves as Vice-President of the MR&NKP Railroad Society/Museum, his tasks include marketing, advertising, event planning, newsletter co-editor, and equipment restoration

Dan Pluta  – Project Advisor

Dan was born and raised in Wellington OH. and his work with the operation and rebuilding of historic railroad equipment began in 1977. He was involved with the relocation of the Steamtown Museum from Vermont to Scranton PA. Dan’s expertise has stretched across a variety of railroads and equipment, ranging from a Class One steam shop to privately owned narrow gauge equipment. He has also worked as a machinist and millwright, and for 23 years served as Chief Mechanical Officer of a popular steam tourist railroad.

Dan has been an Amtrak certified QMP, Private Car, and Steam Locomotive Inspector for over 20 years, and has been pivotal to the rebuilds of several passenger cars, upgrading them to meet current industry standards. Currently Dan is the owner of Pluta Rail Options and Services, which specializes in the inspection, relocation, repair and operation of historic railroad equipment

Zach Hall – Project Advisor

A native of Toledo Ohio, Zach Hall has been active in railroading and railroad preservation going on 20 years. Zach has had a diverse career with many locomotives and railroads from private collections to class one railroad operations. Leading such rebuild and relocation projects as Soo Line 1003, Reading 2100 and Everett Railroad Company #11. Zach currently serves as Operations Manager for The Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society, CMO for Steam Locomotive Heritage Association, Steam Shop Foreman at The Everett Railroad Company and as a steam locomotive rebuild contractor.

T.J. Gaffney – Project Advisor

T.J. Gaffney is the owner of Streamline Historic Services, and is a consultant to the Museum and History fields. Born and Raised in Michigan’s Thumb Region, he is the son of the former Treasurer of the Historical Society of Michigan, and was a volunteer from a very early age in history museums and societies throughout the Midwest. T.J. attended Denison University for his B.A. in American History, as well as Clemson University, where he completed a Masters of Arts in American Transportation History under the direction of noted rail historians Dr. H. Roger Grant and Dr. Richard L. Saunders.

From 2000-2006 he was the Curator of Collections at the Port Huron Museum, where he oversaw the opening of two satellite facilities, the Thomas Edison Depot Museum and the US Coast Guard Cutter Bramble Museum. From 2006-2011 he was Director of the Steam Railroading Institute, which hosted one of the largest steam events of its kind, Train Festival 2009, an event which brought over 40,000 people and 8 operating steam locomotives. Since 2014 Gaffney has also worked in the Mechanical Department of Conrail Assets, where he currently works as a Car Inspector. He is currently managing several active rail History projects for the Port Huron & Detroit Railroad Historical Society, the National Railroad Memorial and the Port Huron Museum.

Rick Rowlands – Project Advisor

Rick Rowlands has over twenty years of experience in industrial and railroad preservation work, specializing in the rigging and shipment of large pieces of historic equipment. In 2014 he led the relocation and reassembly of the 1,200 ton 48″ Universal Plate Mill at the Carrie Furnaces National Historic Landmark, one of the largest machines ever moved for preservation. Rick is Executive Director of the Youngstown Steel Heritage Foundation and is currently managing the operational restoration of Jones & Laughlin Steel No. 58, a 24”-gauge Porter 0-4-0T.

Kelly Lynch – Project Advisor

Kelly Lynch is a filmmaker and creative contractor with an extensive background in railroad preservation, operations, and marketing. He has served in a variety of capacities for short line, regional and Class 1 railroads including the Ohio Central, RJ Corman, and Norfolk Southern. Trained in film production at Columbia College Chicago and the New York Film Academy, Lynch has been the owner of digital marketing firm Lynchpin Creative in Northeast Indiana since 2008 and serves as railroad transportation coordinator for Film Indiana. Previously, Lynch has worked for Apple and NBC/Universal in development and production roles.

He is best known in the railroad preservation community for his marketing and development work with the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society, Inc and has participated in numerous rail and steam locomotive preservation projects throughout the country. Lynch has received numerous community accolades and awards in his hometown of Fort Wayne, Indiana, and serves as project manager for a railyard park redevelopment project along the city’s riverfront. A crew member on restored steam locomotive Nickel Plate Road no. 765, Lynch was recognized as one of the “Under 35 Leaders in Railroad Preservation” by TRAINS Magazine in 2006.  He recently negotiated the transfer and relocation of Nickel Plate Road steam locomotive no. 624 from a city park in Hammond, Indiana for restoration. Lynch is also a qualified conductor and locomotive fireman