Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Nickel Plate Locomotive Arrives in Oakwood Park – June 1960

Although I grew up on the west side of Lorain, my family made occasional excursions out to South Lorain, usually to go to Hills Department Store. One thing I remember about those trips is the opportunity to get a glimpse of the locomotive sitting in Oakwood Park.

I don’t remember ever getting a real close look at it, but it was one of those landmarks (like the Easter Basket or the Big V) that we watched for from the back seat of the family car.

The train is no longer there (that’s another story) but it was back in June 1960 that it was moved there with much fanfare.

The article below – which appeared in the Lorain Journal on May 27, 1960 – explains a little of the locomotive's history and how it came to be installed at Oakwood Park.

Veteran Of Two Wars
Lorain’s Locomotive Has Honorable History

No. 384 Of Nickel Plate Railroad Will Find Its Resting Place In Lorain
June 15 At Grove Ave. and E. 31st St.
Nickel Plate Road steam locomotive No. 384, which will be presented to the city of Lorain for permanent display at Oakwood Park, traveled the equivalent of 20 times around the world during her working days, most of which were spent at Toledo and Brewster, Ohio.

The locomotive will serve as a civic memorial to the “iron horse,” which played a major role in the growth and development of the United States.

Number 384, which was one of the B-5 class on the Nickel Plate, is a six-wheel switcher and was built by the American Locomotive Co. at Schenectady, N. Y., in 1944. The driving wheels of the locomotive are 51 inches in diameter; the cylinders have a 21-inch bore and a 28-inch stroke.

At the working boiler pressure of 200 pounds per square inch, the cylinder horsepower is 1,588 and the tractive effort is 41,200 pounds.

In working order, the locomotive, exclusive of tender, weighed 168,000 pounds. The tender, with a full load of 8,950 gallons of water and 12 1/2 tons of coal, weighed 163,000 pounds, or more than 165 tons.

Prior to the advent of the diesel-electric switcher, the six-wheel steam switcher, because of its relatively light weight and short wheel base, was one of the most widely-used yard engines.

This type of locomotive usually made short pulls at low speed and negotiated with ease the sharp curves often found in yards and industrial areas.

Locomotive No. 384 was a “war baby.” It was built during World War II and was a veteran of that war and the Korean War. During both conflicts, she moved countless freight cars loaded with munitions, foodstuffs and other items contributing to the war effort.

In 1958 this worthy machine was officially retired in the railroad’s “dieselization” program.

The presentation of the locomotive to the city will take place June 15 at Oakwood Park. Officials of at least five railroads are expected to attend the event.

This photo (below) appeared on the front page of the Lorain Journal on Friday, May 20, 1960 and shows the workers getting the locomotive’s new home in Oakwood Park ready.

By June 20, the locomotive was in place, as seen by the photo below, which appeared in the Lorain Journal on June 10, 1960.
Wednesday, June 15, 1960 was “Railroad Day” in Lorain. As reported in the paper that day, “More than 3,000 people witnessed the parade which marked the beginning of the dedication of the 76-ton steam engine and tender donated to the city by the Nickel Plate Railroad, at Oakwood Park today.
“The parade, starting somewhat late because of bad weather, commenced at 11:15 from E. 31st St. and Vine Ave. and ended at E. 32nd St. and Grove Ave., where the locomotive is permanently installed.
“The dedication of the locomotive was to take place at 2 p.m. when Felix Hales, president of the Nickel Plate Road, will turn the engine over to Mayor John C. Jaworski, who will accept it on behalf of the city.
“Dedication ceremonies are scheduled to take place in the park, after which a variety show by various nationality groups will take place.
“The celebration will end tonight with a banquet at the Hungarian Reformed Hall, E. 31st and Globe Ave., at 6:30 p.m."

Click here to see some great photos of NKP 384 in its heyday, as well as its present condition.

1 comment:

-Alan D Hopewell said...

I remember climbing around on the locomotive when it was first installed; they put a fence around it after some kid fell and got hurt....don't remember what year it was.