It’s back to Ohio for NKP 765

It’s back to Ohio for NKP 765

Trains Magazine | Kevin Keefe, March 7, 2019

Is this the most promising year yet for restored mainline steam locomotives? You could make a good case. Obviously the revival of Union Pacific 4-8-8-4 No. 4014 is 2019’s big deal, a prospect that, given the Big Boy’s long legend, will be impossible to eclipse.

But there is also exciting work going on in shops other than Cheyenne: Santa Fe 4-8-4 No. 2926 in Albuquerque; C&O 2-6-6-2 No. 1309 in Ridgeley, W.Va.; NC&StL 4-8-4 No. 576 in Nashville; C&O 2-8-4 No. 2716 in Ravenna, Ky.; Reading 4-8-4 No. 2100 in Cleveland . . . the list goes on.

Meanwhile, from Portland to Owosso to Chattanooga, a number of other operators of large engines already have the right to crow, “C’mon in, the water’s fine!”

Of all of those groups, the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society (FWRHS) might have the strongest bragging rights. Their announcement that they’ve once again agreed to run Nickel Plate 2-8-4 No. 765 this September on Ohio’s Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railway (CVSR) is welcome news, and hardly a surprise when you consider all the things FWRHS has accomplished.

The operation of 765 has become so predictable, so reliable in recent years that it seems routine. But there’s nothing routine about keeping this 75-year-old machine in operation, sometimes even in a high-speed mainline setting, as the Berkshire showed on recent forays to Metra in Chicago. The Fort Wayne crew has been at this game since 765 returned to steam in 1979 — a 40-year record of nearly uninterrupted service.

The engine won’t be making it back to Chicago this year, but that’s fine with the crew. The Cuyahoga Valley is a great place to see the 765 in action. FWRHS Vice President Kelly Lynch calls it “an ideal marriage.”

“For us, the CVSR offers a great venue, a variety of scenery and towns, a major population base to draw from, and a great consist and dedicated volunteers and employees that already run trains the other 11 months of the year,” Lynch explains. “And we’re able to rotate our volunteers through the cab, get our crew more firing and running time, and treat donors, visitors, and VIPs to the engine in a way that would be very difficult anywhere else.”…

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Lynee Bixler