South Lima’s railroad history


By Greg Hoersten - For The Lima News



A view of the Nickel Plate round house and maintenance shops in south Lima. John A. Rehor, author of “The Nickel Plate Story,” the Lima shops and several other small maintenance facilities in Ohio kept the Nickel Plate running during the hectic years of World War II.

A view of the Nickel Plate round house and maintenance shops in south Lima. John A. Rehor, author of “The Nickel Plate Story,” the Lima shops and several other small maintenance facilities in Ohio kept the Nickel Plate running during the hectic years of World War II.


Courtesy of Allen County Historical Society

Railroad photographer Richard Cook took this photo looking toward the Lima Locomotive Works from inside the Nickel Plate round house in August 1947 during the waning days of the steam locomotive. Although the Nickel Plate would not run its last steam train through Lima for another decade, the Loco rolled out its last steam locomotive in 1949.

Railroad photographer Richard Cook took this photo looking toward the Lima Locomotive Works from inside the Nickel Plate round house in August 1947 during the waning days of the steam locomotive. Although the Nickel Plate would not run its last steam train through Lima for another decade, the Loco rolled out its last steam locomotive in 1949.


Courtesy of Allen County Historical Society

On a flawless July afternoon in 1946, railroad photographer Richard Cook took this photo of a Nickel Plate engine at the south Lima round house. The round house and other maintenance shops of the Nickel Plate were leveled in 1960.


Courtesy of Allen County Historical Society

In this photo by railroad photographer Richard Cook, a Nickel Plate freight prepares to leave south Lima for the run to Sandusky on a September afternoon in 1947.


Courtesy of Allen County Historical Society

Railroad photographer William M. Rittase took this photo of tanks and other war materials produced in Lima headed out of town on the Nickel Plate in 1943. In his book “The Nickel Plate Story,” author John A. Rehor wrote that the Nickel Plate also transported a half dozen or more trainloads of crude oil daily from Lima during the war years.


Courtesy of Allen County Historical Society

This photo shows the interior of the Loco in about 1926.


The Lima News file

This photo of the interior of the Loco is marked March 1, 1941. The edge of the negative shows on the print, displaying it was shot on Eastman Safety Kodak film. The “safety” refers to the fact that it was a less combustible film than its predecessor.


The Lima News file

This aerial photo of the area of the Loco is marked about 1945.


The Lima News file

SOURCE

This feature is a cooperative effort between the newspaper and the Allen County Museum and Historical Society.

LIMA — On a late spring day in 1918 the city started the process of razing and replacing the South Main Street bridge over the Ottawa River — to the editorial cheers of The Lima News.

“The principal necessity for having a bridge on Main Street that looks anything but disreputable, is the big fact that the span is crossed by more persons than any other bridge in Lima,” the News noted June 10, 1918. “The greater part of Lima’s big shops and factories are located south of the river; workmen go across the bridge from all sections of the city; passengers going to and from the Erie depot see the old iron structure and smell the perfume from Hawg Creek. It is a step finally taken that should bring about a celebration when the concrete span is completed, the boulevard lights installed and lighted.”

South Main Street 100 years ago was the principal artery to Lima’s industrial area, the heart of which was powered by steam. Along the west side of Main Street between Vine and Fourth streets was the Lima Locomotive Works and, just to the north of the Loco, the round house and maintenance shops of the Lake Erie and Western, one of three railroads that came together in a maze of tracks in the area.

To the north of the Erie Railroad, shops, restaurants, hotels, cigar stores and saloons flanked South Main Street. Lima’s electric street railway delivered workers to the plants and passengers to the Erie Railroad depot.

World War II brought even more activity to the area. The locomotive works turned out tanks and special locomotives. At its peak the Loco employed more than 4,300 workers. The Nickel Plate, successor to the L E & W, transported much of the war material produced in the south Lima plants.

But times were changing. In 1947 the Loco began a series of mergers intended to ease the switch from manufacturing steam locomotives to turning out diesel power. The last of more than 7,700 steam locomotives rolled out of the shop in 1949. In 1950, as Baldwin-Lima-Hamilton Corp., the plant switched to making road graders and other construction equipment, particularly cranes. B-L-H was sold to Clark Equipment Co. in 1971, which closed the plant in 1980.

In September 1956, the last Nickel Plate steam locomotive passed through Lima. In 1960, 80 years after the city donated land to the railroad for maintenance shops and a round house, the Nickel Plate shops were demolished.

Through negotiations between the Allen County Historical Society and the railroad, the last steam locomotive produced at the Loco, Nickel Plate Engine 779, was donated to the city. Today, the engine is exhibited in Lincoln Park along with a Pullman car formerly used by the president of the New York Central Railroad and caboose built in 1882 at the Lafayette Car Works, which was on the site eventually occupied by the Loco.

Beginning in 1997, the maze of buildings on the old Loco site, some of them more than a century old, were leveled. After that the site passed through the hands of various companies touting plans to produce clean energy on the site. For 18 years, however, little happened. Recently the site was purchased by Husky Lima Refinery.

A view of the Nickel Plate round house and maintenance shops in south Lima. John A. Rehor, author of “The Nickel Plate Story,” the Lima shops and several other small maintenance facilities in Ohio kept the Nickel Plate running during the hectic years of World War II.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2018/05/web1_SLima2.jpgA view of the Nickel Plate round house and maintenance shops in south Lima. John A. Rehor, author of “The Nickel Plate Story,” the Lima shops and several other small maintenance facilities in Ohio kept the Nickel Plate running during the hectic years of World War II. Courtesy of Allen County Historical Society
Railroad photographer Richard Cook took this photo looking toward the Lima Locomotive Works from inside the Nickel Plate round house in August 1947 during the waning days of the steam locomotive. Although the Nickel Plate would not run its last steam train through Lima for another decade, the Loco rolled out its last steam locomotive in 1949.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2018/05/web1_NKP-roundhouse-to-loco-1947.jpgRailroad photographer Richard Cook took this photo looking toward the Lima Locomotive Works from inside the Nickel Plate round house in August 1947 during the waning days of the steam locomotive. Although the Nickel Plate would not run its last steam train through Lima for another decade, the Loco rolled out its last steam locomotive in 1949. Courtesy of Allen County Historical Society
On a flawless July afternoon in 1946, railroad photographer Richard Cook took this photo of a Nickel Plate engine at the south Lima round house. The round house and other maintenance shops of the Nickel Plate were leveled in 1960.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2018/05/web1_-616-SLima.jpgOn a flawless July afternoon in 1946, railroad photographer Richard Cook took this photo of a Nickel Plate engine at the south Lima round house. The round house and other maintenance shops of the Nickel Plate were leveled in 1960. Courtesy of Allen County Historical Society
In this photo by railroad photographer Richard Cook, a Nickel Plate freight prepares to leave south Lima for the run to Sandusky on a September afternoon in 1947.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2018/05/web1_-500-NKP-SLima-1947.jpgIn this photo by railroad photographer Richard Cook, a Nickel Plate freight prepares to leave south Lima for the run to Sandusky on a September afternoon in 1947. Courtesy of Allen County Historical Society
Railroad photographer William M. Rittase took this photo of tanks and other war materials produced in Lima headed out of town on the Nickel Plate in 1943. In his book “The Nickel Plate Story,” author John A. Rehor wrote that the Nickel Plate also transported a half dozen or more trainloads of crude oil daily from Lima during the war years.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2018/05/web1_mil-equip-on-NKP-yard-tracks-1943.jpgRailroad photographer William M. Rittase took this photo of tanks and other war materials produced in Lima headed out of town on the Nickel Plate in 1943. In his book “The Nickel Plate Story,” author John A. Rehor wrote that the Nickel Plate also transported a half dozen or more trainloads of crude oil daily from Lima during the war years. Courtesy of Allen County Historical Society
This photo shows the interior of the Loco in about 1926.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2018/05/web1_workingsmaller.jpgThis photo shows the interior of the Loco in about 1926. The Lima News file
This photo of the interior of the Loco is marked March 1, 1941. The edge of the negative shows on the print, displaying it was shot on Eastman Safety Kodak film. The “safety” refers to the fact that it was a less combustible film than its predecessor.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2018/05/web1_interiorsmaller.jpgThis photo of the interior of the Loco is marked March 1, 1941. The edge of the negative shows on the print, displaying it was shot on Eastman Safety Kodak film. The “safety” refers to the fact that it was a less combustible film than its predecessor. The Lima News file
This aerial photo of the area of the Loco is marked about 1945.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2018/05/web1_aerialsmaller.jpgThis aerial photo of the area of the Loco is marked about 1945. The Lima News file

By Greg Hoersten

For The Lima News

SOURCE

This feature is a cooperative effort between the newspaper and the Allen County Museum and Historical Society.

Reach Greg Hoersten at info@limanews.com.

Reach Greg Hoersten at info@limanews.com.

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