The New York, Chicago and St Louis Railroad 1881–1964


Map Code: Ax02051

The Nickel Plate Railroad (the nickname came from the windfalls it generated for towns it passed through) was conceived as a means of breaking the monopoly of William H. Vanderbilt and Jay Gould over the east-west rail routes and their high freight charges. To eliminate the competition, Vanderbilt bought the line and ran a minimal passenger service using it mainly as a ‘Meat Express’ running from the abattoirs of Chicago. In the early 20th century, incorporated into the New York Central railroad, the Nickel Plate began to revive with extensions to Cleveland, Sandusky, and Peoria. It finally reached St Louis with the acquisition of the ‘Cloverleaf Line’ in 1922. Its president until 1935, John Bernet, introduced Berkshire Locomotives (1933): they would become a feature of the line. After the war, its fortunes declined until its eventual acquisition by the Norfolk and Western in 1964.

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