Tag Archives: Nickel Plate Road

Nickel Plate Road Alco PA.

An Impostor, but still nice to see.

Ok, so this Alco PA was delivered new to the Santa Fe, and in later years worked for Delaware & Hudson, and then for Mexican railways. But now it wears a fresh coat of Nickel Plate Road paint.

Until Streamliners at Spencer, I’d never had the opportunity to photograph an Alco PA, a locomotive often cited as one of the most loved and most attractive (if not the most reliable) of the steam to diesel transition era.


The Nickel Plate Road merged into Norfolk & Western two years before I was born, so while I’ve photographed trains on the old Nickel Plate route, I never knew the railway either.


So there you go. It’s like meeting a ghost. Or, perhaps, seeing a James Joyce impersonator. Or, going to listen to a Led Zeppelin tribute-band.

When it comes to a Nickel Plate Road PA, I never experienced the real thing, and I never will. I never saw an Erie Triplex either.


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Norfolk Southern on 19th Street in Erie, Pennsylvania October 1994

Street Trackage
Norfolk Southern on 19th Street in Erie, Pennsylvania.

Norfolk Southern’s former Nickel Plate Road mainline from Buffalo to Cleveland navigated 19th Street in Erie, Pennsylvania. This unusually long section of street trackage offered some great photographic opportunities. In October 1994, I was visiting Erie on my way from West Virginia to Wisconsin, and I made this image of a lone NS GP59 leading a westward double-stack train down 19th Street. The soft light of a dull day works well here by allowing the texture and hues of autumnal foliage to offer the illusion of a long corridor, with effect of haze giving added depth. The train seems endless. I was working with a Nikormat FT3 with Nikkor f4.0 200mm lens on a Bogen tripod and Fujichrome 100 slide film.

This street trackage was sacrificed as a condition of the Conrail split in the late 1990s. To eliminate the slow running and please unsympathetic neighbors of the railroad, NS shifted its operations through Erie to the parallel former New York Central grade-separated line (owned and operated by CSX after the 1998-1999 split.)

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