LIMA — You never know what you'll find, but sometimes you have to slow down.
A trip to Indiana for a quick family reunion earlier this year left my husband and me looking for dinner on the way home. Decatur, Indiana's Back 40 Junction restaurant fit the bill. We're both sentimental about it, as we remember being taken there as children, and we had an enjoyable visit.
Out front, there is a caboose open for visitors. Naturally, I popped in — and found an old but undated railroad map pasted literally onto the side of the caboose. The Nickel Plate Road mineral industries map stretched east-west from Buffalo, N.Y., to Chicago with some spurs as well. Lima, of course, was on it. The legend told of our oil refinery, coke plant and quarries.
After glancing at "The Nickel Plate Story" at the Allen County Museum, a book written by John A. Rehor and boasting an original printing in 1965, I learned the railroad was started in 1881 by a banker, an investment broker, a tea importer, a fur dealer and a merchant who earned his weath by selling goods to the Union Army in the Civil War. Even before it was operational, it engaged in a power struggle with magnates Jay Gould and Cornelius Vanderbilt.
“Lacking even a modest reservoir of captive business, the railroad grubbed out a living in an intensely competitive transportation arena purely on the strength of the service it rendered. Hence, this became a proposition dedicated to the science of moving high-grade freight with dependability and dispatch. Indeed, the Nickel Plate was so adroit with its calling that it came to be synonymous with the fast manifest freight train," Rehor wrote.
In 1964, the road became the Norfolk & Western. In 1982, it changed names again to the Norfolk Southern. A quick internet search will show the wealth of information online about the Nickel Plate Road. And if you're more interested in the restaurant, that's there too, at www.worldfamousback40junction.com.
The Pure Oil station in Lafayette, before and after a recent renovation. Lafayette had rededicated the monument to Civil war soldiers in 2003, and the group looks to help other sites around the area. These photos were submitted by Jeanne Sumney, of Ada, who would like to invite area residents to be part of the Lafayette Jackson Historical Society. Write Sumney at 1833 Pevee Road, Ada, OH, 45810 for details.
Veronica Bowers Porfert shares these old Erie Railroad snapshots from around 1955 and 1961. In the first photo, from left, are Jack Fillhart, Dick Fisher, Bob Blank, Byron Nance, Elmer Nebergall and Don Bowers. In the second photos, from left, are Edwin Austgrue, Frank Frances, Bob Blank and Don Bowers. Porfert is the daughter of Don Bowers.