Kevin’s Komments 12/10/2021

After being distracted from model railroading for a few weeks, my thoughts have drifted back.  And I have about three research projects already lined up for the next few weeks!

This next photo caught my attention.  I’m not ready to do another exclusive roundhouse or turntable pic effort, but the location of this roundhouse put me into one of my favorite railroad towns – Lima, Ohio, home of the Lima Locomotive Works.

This pic gives us a view of the Nickel Plate roundhouse and maintenance shops in south Lima. The NKP Lima shops helped keep the Nickel Plate running during the busy years of World War II.

Thanks to a great website:  https://www.limaohio.com/features/lifestyle/302484/south-limas-railroad-history#/ , I was able to easily begin the research on Lima’s railroad history.  Quite a few of these early photos were taken by railroad photographer Richard Cook.  This one gives a view of the Lima Locomotive Works from inside the NKP roundhouse, circa 1947.  Just a few years later in 1951, Lima Locomotive Works rolled out its last steam locomotive.

The NKP facilities at Lima began with the city donating property to the Lake Erie & Western RR.  The LE&W became part of the Nickel Plate which was one of five major railroads that met in Lima:  PRR, B&O, NKP, Erie, & DT&I.  Just west of the diamonds between the PRR, B&O, and NKP was the PRR passenger station. 

The station was originally built by the Pittsburg, Ft. Wayne & Chicago RR in 1887.

It was used by Amtrak until 1990. The building is now owned by the Lima Utilities Department.

Looking east from the old station platform, you can just see the diamond between what was once the PRR and B&O crossing.

This is the NS tower at the diamond between the PRR and NKP. The PRR is the single track in the foreground, while you can just make out that the NKP was double track.

The Lima Locomotive Works was commonly known as Loco.  Near the Loco facility was this former LE&W station later used by the NKP.

This is the Erie station in Lima.

A fire in 1918 severely damaged the LE&W facilities.  More than $800,000 worth of damage (in 1918) was done to the facilities.

Here you can see the damage to the roundhouse from the turntable pit.

Here’s the crane used for removing debris from a temporary track built into the turntable pit.

Another view of the end of the temporary track and crane.

The roundhouse and shops were rebuilt after the fire, and the NKP ran the facility until around 1956 when the last steam loco went through the shops.  This was 80 years after the city of Lima donated the land to the LE&W.  The roundhouse and shops were leveled in 1960.  This 1946 photo shows NKP #616, a Lima Locomotive Work’s 2-8-4 Berkshire (see below) at the roundhouse – another pic by Richard Cook.

Another interesting facet of Lima was their streetcar system. Car No. 4 is headed north on Main Street in 1893. The Harper Block is in the background.

The streetcar ran until 1937.  Here is a pic of the Grand Ave shop and barn in 1929.

The beginnings of their streetcars go back to horse drawn cars starting around 1878. The horse drawn service struggled up to 1886 when it was decided to pull up the track and replace it with track for electric streetcars.

But the real excitement in Lima comes from the Lima Locomotive Works, or as previously noted the “Loco”. 

This is an aerial view of the Loco in 1945.

…the classic Lima builders plate.

One of Lima’s most famous locomotive lines was the Shay. Roaring Camp & Big Trees Narrow Gauge RR #7 is a Lima Sonora class C with three trucks.

More familiar to us in the Midwest are the Shays at the Cass Scenic Railroad in Cass, WV. Cass #2 is a class PC-13 three-truck built in 1928. Cass has nine Lima Shays on its roster.

Lima also gained fame for the development of “Superpower” steam locos.  One of the first “Superpower” locos was the T&P #610, 2-10-4.  #610 was delivered in 1927 (the “Superpower” era was from 1925 to 1949).  William E. Woodward designed the “Superpower” additions that provided performance which put Lima generally leading steam locomotive performance until the end of the steam era.

Restored SP #4449, 4-8-4, which pulled the SP Daylight, is a Lima “Superpower” built 1941.

Another restored Lima “Superpower” is NKP #965, 2-8-4 Berkshire. Berkshires were extremely rare until Lima added “Superpower” and ended up building over 600.

Still another of the famous Lima “Superpower” locos was the Allegheny, 2-6-6-6.  C&O 2-6-6-6 #1644 steams westbound along the Kanawha River at Handley, West Virginia in 1956. #1644 was built in 1941 – only two examples of these monsters survive today: #1604 at the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum and #1601 the Henry Ford Museum.

In 1962, a “mystery” rail excursion brought hundreds of railfans from the Northeast around Cleveland and Akron to Lima to visit the Loco.

They toured the Baldwin-Lima-Hamilton plant which was the former Lima Locomotive Works.  By 1962, Baldwin-Lima-Hamilton was building cranes.

1951 was the last year a steam loco came out of Loco. Then it was on to construction equipment. Here is a Lima crane built by the Baldwin-Lima-Hamilton Corp.

But the construction equipment branch of Loco didn’t start with the last of the steam locos. Here’s a 1928 photo of a Lima shovel accompanied by George T. Wright in front of his 224 S. Cole St. home, with Len Faurot at right. This was one of the first powered shovels built at Lima.

These models of shovels displayed a “Gasoline Powered” on the back.

Restored NKP #765, Berkshire 2-8-4, (also shown above) returned to where it began at Lima Locomotive Works in 1990, visiting 45 years after she was built.  (Photo is by Dale A. DeVene Jr.)

Lima closed shop on their construction equipment and cranes in 1980 and sold their facilities.  The shops were demolished in 1998.

There is a lot of RR history in Lima.  It’s a little more difficult to find info than places like Altoona (PRR shops).  But it’s well worth the effort!

Thx,

Kevin

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