Nickel Plate Road Steam Feature for June 2017

Featured Nickel Plate Road steam subjects for this post are Berkshire locomotives in various Ohio and Illinois locations:

  • NKP #715 – Conneaut, OH – 1/1/60
  • NKP #744 – Chicago, IL – 6/6/58
  • NKP #750 – Chicago, IL – 1956
  • NKP #757 – Bellevue, OH – Date unknown
  • NKP #771 – Ohio – Late 1950’s
  • NKP #779 – Location & date unknown

The Class A-1 Berkshire is a 2-8-4 steam locomotive first built in 1925 by the Lima Locomotive Works. The design was initially intended to improve on the company’s USRA Mikado design (2-8-2), which was deemed to lack sufficient speed and horsepower. This was addressed by the inclusion of a larger, 100-square foot firebox that required an extra trailing axle, giving the locomotive its distinctive 2-8-4 wheel arrangement.

The Berkshire locomotive was so named for its testing location on the Berkshire Hills of the Boston & Albany Railroad. After the Class A-1 successfully outperformed a Class H-10 Mikado, the Boston & Albany Railroad became the first to order the new Berkshires. Over 600 were built by Lima Locomotive Works, the American Locomotive Company and Baldwin Locomotive Works. A total of nineteen different railroads purchased Berkshires, including the Erie Railroad, who owned 105 Berkshires, more than any other railroad; the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway, who nicknamed theirs the Kanawhas, and the Louisville & Nashville Railroad’s, whose locomotives were technically designed as Class M-1 but were referred to as “Big Emmas.”

Editor’s Note: Over the years, there has been quite a bit of speculation as to the immense power generated by a steam locomotive. In the attached link, Mr. Rich Melvin’s interview will interject some perspective on this long sought after answer.


All photos courtesy of Google; history excerpt courtesy of Wikipedia; video courtesy of Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society via YouTube.

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