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New York, Chicago & St. Louis Railroad 44 (2nd)
("Nickel Plate Road") 304 (renumbered in 1910)
Akron, Canton & Youngstown Railroad 304
Dansville & Mount Morris Railroad 304

Whyte System Type: 4-6-0 Ten-wheeler
Class: P

Builder: American Locomotive Company, Brooks Works
Date Built: December 1905
Builder's Number: 38831

Cylinders (diameter x stroke in inches): 21 x 24 (also reported as 19 x 24)
Boiler Pressure (in lbs. per square inch): 180
Diameter of Drive Wheels (in inches): 62 (other sources say 63)
Tractive Effort (in lbs.): 21,040

Tender Capacity:
    Coal (in tons):
    Oil (in gallons): Not applicable
    Water (in gallons):

Weight on Drivers (in lbs.): 105,600; Total Weight: 136,500

Remarks: Mechanically, locomotive is reportedly in very poor condition, and probably suitable only for exhibit purposes.

Nickel Plate Road (New York, Chicago & St. Louis Railroad) 4-6-0 Locomotive No. 44

History: As of 1900, the New York, Chicago and St. Louis Railroad, which came to be known by the nickname the "Nickel Plate Road," owned 494.72 miles of main track, leased two short line railroads which owned 17.8 miles, and had 10.5 miles of trackage rights on other systems, for a total length of lines operated, as of January 1, 1900, of 523.02 miles, extending basically between Chicago, Illinois, and Buffalo, New York.

At that same time, the Nickel Plate was controlled by the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railway Company, which also operated trackage between Buffalo, New York, and Chicago, Illinois, essentially in duplication of the Nickel Plate. But to get to the icing on the cake, the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern was in turn controlled by the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad, eventually to be known as the New York Central System.

Actually, the history of the line began with organization in New York State on April 13, 1881, of the New York, Chicago & St. Louis Railway, which completed construction and opened for traffic on October 23, 1882. But that company had soon entered bankruptcy and was sold at a foreclosure sale in May 1887, and its new owners reorganized it in September 1887 as the New York, Chicago and St. Louis Railroad.

It was this company which in December 1905, took delivery from the Brooks Locomotive Works in Dunkirk, New York, of 10 new 4-6-0 "ten-wheeler" type locomotives numbered 40 through 49 and given the railroad class of P. In October 1906, Brooks delivered another five, numbered 50 through 54. At that time the railroad had not yet become as widely known by its nickname, "Nickel Plate Road," as would later become the case, so these locomotives, No. 44 among them, received the initials of the railroad on the flange of their tenders: N.Y.,C. & ST.L. Centered in the panel below the windows on each side of the cab was the number of the engine, which did not appear on the sand dome. Intended for fast freight duty, these engines had 62-inch drive wheels, Richardson balanced steam chest valves, and Stephenson link motion. Their tenders carried 14 tons of coal and 5,500 gallons of water. The locomotives had wooden pilots, a semi-rectangular number plate with rounded ends centered on the smokebox front, and a box headlight. The new ten-wheelers must have performed well, for in 1908 and 1909, the railroad purchased from the Brooks Works 20 similar but slightly heavier versions of the same locomotives, classed P-l. In 1910, in a general reorganization of motive power typical of major railroads, the New York, Chicago & St. Louis Railroad renumbered the Class P 4-6-0s from 40 through 54 to 300 through 315; No. 44 became No. 304.

Meanwhile, the railroad itself was about to experience some momentous changes. As already mentioned, this component of the New York Central System essentially duplicated another component of that system geographically. Perhaps for this reason, although probably for fiscal reasons as well, the New York Central System, on July 6, 1916, unloaded its controlling interest in the New York, Chicago & St. Louis for what in retrospect seems to have been a song. The New York Central sold a controlling interest consisting of $6,240,000 shares of common stock, $6,275,000 of second preferred stock, and $2,503,000 shares of first preferred stock to Cleveland financial interests headed by the brothers O.P. and M.J. Van Sweringen for a mere $8,500,000, of which the Van Sweringen interests paid $2,000,000 in cash and $6,500,000 in notes secured by a pledge of the stock. The Van Sweringens and their associates hoped to build a railroad system of their own, and acquisition of the New York, Chicago & St. Louis Railroad proved a large step in that direction. However, World War I had already been in progress in Europe for two years, and in 1917, the United States was dragged into the war. In 1918 the United States government took over most of the nation's railroads--an unprecedented wartime measure--operating them under the U.S. Railroad Administration throughout 1919 and the first two months of 1920. It was not until March 1920 that the Van Sweringens regained control of the railroad they had so recently bought.

Two steps the Van Sweringens undertook in 1920 were to affect the Class P 4-6-0 locomotives. First, to expand their railroad system, the Van Sweringens acquired control of the Lake Erie and Western. But in order to do so they had to agree to the Lake Erie and Western selling off a subsidiary of its own, the Northern Ohio Railway, the Lake Erie and Western selling the latter to a small, local 9.57-mile-long Akron, Ohio, switching railroad known as the Akron, Canton and Youngstown Railway. As the principal motive power of the Northern Ohio, the A.C.& Y. thus acquired a number of small, worn-out Brooks Moguls and obviously needed more powerful motive power. At the same time, the prosperity of the postwar decade of the 1920s brought with it a need on the part of the New York, Chicago & St. Louis for heavier motive power. Accordingly, on May 19, 1920, the New York, Chicago & St. Louis unloaded some of its earlier, smaller power by selling 12 of its 15 Class P 4-6-0s to the Akron, Canton & Youngstown Railway, retaining only Nos. 302, 306, and 311. The Akron, Canton & Youngstown reportedly paid $10,250 per locomotive. The A.C.& Y. retained the same engine numbers for these locomotives.

A latecomer to the Ohio railway scene, the Akron, Canton & Youngstown Railway was incorporated by a number of Akron businessmen on June 17, 1907, and completed its 9.57 miles from Akron to Mogadore in 1913. It was the type of railroad that the rest of the industry referred to as a "traffic thief." Instead of being built into a region devoid of railroads and creating industries that could grow only with rail transportation, while taking existing traffic away from teamsters, drayage firms, and river or canal boats, the A.C.& Y. built through a territory already well served by existing railroads. It was routed in such a way as to cross them at key points and divert traffic from them. It could acquire traffic only at the cost of other railroads in its region. It was a cannibal of railroads.

On March 1, 1920, fortune smiled on the A.C.& Y., and it was able to acquire the 152.33 miles of the Northern Ohio Railway extending from Delphos to Copley, Ohio, and aside from controlling that line, purchased from it and transferred into the A.C.& Y. itself the 9.41 miles from Akron to Copley Junction. By this time the A.C.& Y. operated a total of 171 miles of track, and from a traffic thief of a switching road, had become a respectable short line railroad, "Akron's own railroad" as it called itself. With the growth of the automobile industry, Akron prospered, for its burgeoning rubber industry supplied many of the tires for America's automobiles, and the A.C.& Y. carried them. But the original 9.57-mile A.C.& Y. operated with five 0-6-0 switchers, and acquisition of the Northern Ohio Railway brought only "ten elderly and worn-out Brooks Moguls." The Northern Ohio also featured two light bridges built probably in the 1890s, and its new A.C.& Y. owner had to replace them with new, heavier duty bridges. Meanwhile, it purchased the dozen New York, Chicago & St. Louis ten-wheelers, which soon took over most of the A.C.& Y. operations, including the six day per week mixed train to Delphos and extra freights. By the end of 1922, the A.C.& Y. had sold off the ten old Brooks moguls, either to industry or to scrap dealers.

Built in December 1905, Nickel Plate Road Locomotive No. 44 later became Akron, Canton and Youngstown Locomotive No. 304, and is the only surviving locomotive of those that operated on that Ohio carrier, even if only a secondhand engine there. Subsequently, it went to a third owner, the Dansville and Mount Morris Railroad in New York. The view above shows the locomotive early in its career, still equipped with a box headlight, still featuring a hardwood pilot, and lettered with the full initials of the New York, Chicago & St. Louis Railroad, without the slogan "Nickel Plate Road" (a nickname that only later came into wide use) emblazoned on its tender.
Collection of the Railway and Locomotive Historical Society, California State Railroad Museum Library.

In Akron during the 1920s, two small kids about knee-high to a grasshopper in size would watch the A.C.& Y. 4-6-0s, including No. 304, as they worked freight trains through town. One of them, Bob Richardson, recalled:

The ex-Nickel Plate engines provided a fascinating late afternoon show for a couple of juveniles who lived "up the hill" about six blocks from the little AC&Y/NO depot on Main St. About 4:30 or so we would sometimes hear the long station blast of [the whistle of] the mixed as it approached just below the west rim of the Cuyahoga River valley, a couple miles from the station. The sound carried clearly as we were at a higher elevation and there was nothing in between to absorb the pleasant whistle. We knew we had a good ten minutes to hurry across the park, ending any baseball or other pursuit, down the steep Perkins street hill and perch ourselves on a wall conveniently a block and a half from Main St. giving us a good view of the depot area, and the steep grade commencing at Main St. which made a curve past us, continuing on another block and a half until the track leveled out as it approached a small yard of the AC&Y.

The crossing watchman would stride out to the middle of Main St. holding aloft his sign as the important-sounding 300 [class] would after crawling across the trestle a block and a half from Main St. . . . immediately respond to a widened throttle and storm across Main St. hitting and immediately slowing on the grade, trundling perhaps 15 box cars behind it and when the mail-express car and coach were about to reach the depot it would slow and stop, blocking both Main St. and a somewhat less busy High St. Uncoupled from the two passenger cars. . .the engineer with considerable sanding would just barely get going, practically in front of us, and move the train, showering us with smoke and cinders. Of course if it happened to be rainy (and we wouldn't have thought of missing such a show as would ensue, no matter how wet we may get) he might be able to only get part of the freight cars up the hill, a portent of the show to come!

At this point the engineer would have left some freight cars between Main and High streets while he moved part of his train up the hill to the freight yard. Then he would have to return for the freight cars left behind on the first hill climb, as well as the passenger equipment.

It didn't take long to unload the few passengers, but sometimes the express and mail took quite a while as the "Akron & Delphos R.P.O." served many mail routes and small offices. Now the ten-wheeler would back down with the freight cars, once more blocking Main St. while the coupling was made, then as traffic of Model Ts, streetcars and interurbans backed up, would back the train out to the bridge, to give the fireman a few minutes to build up a full head of steam. This accomplished, it would whistle off, the watchman would once again bring traffic to a halt, as with throttle wide and bell clanging, it would roar over Main St. and hit the grade. By the time it reached our "bleachers" it would sometimes be down to a walk, and SOMETIMES it was all too much for the skill of the engineer and the wheels would spin and the train would stop. Would they back down and try again? Would the brakeman go back and cut the train so they could double up to the small yard? They might do either, but if the track was wet (as wet as the two junior spectators determined to stick it out), half the train would be backed to clear Main St. and the other half would make it to the yard. With the ancient coach receding from our view into the yard, we'd start back up the hill for home, probably late for supper, to be chided by parents who just could not understand what was such an attraction as watching a smoky old freight train tie up traffic in the rush hour. For we seemed to be the only persons who had any enjoyment out of it, the engineer never looked at us, nobody waved, and we suspected the crew didn't like our enjoyment of their problems at the end of a long day from Delphos.

Some years later a friend introduced Richardson to a retiring A.C.& Y. engineer who peered intently at him and then exclaimed, "Say, you look very much like one of those kids who used to watch us try to get the mixed up the hill from Main Street." Richardson admitted that indeed he had been one of the two kids who used to watch. The engineer said something, unsmilingly, to the effect that they were the only ones enjoying it. Richardson and other young railroad buffs had a hobby of recording the numbers of engines they watched, just as birdwatchers collect species of birds, and he knew that No. 304 was one of the engines he had seen climbing the hill above Main Street in Akron during the 1920s.

By the end of the 1920s, the A.C.& Y. had acquired heavier engines, and the little 300-series 4-6-0s vanished from the roster in 1929 and 1930, sold to other railroads, to industries, or to scrap dealers. The A.C.& Y. sold No. 304 to a New York State short line, the Dansville and Mount Morris Railroad, on July 6,1929.

The Dansville and Mount Morris had a long history for a short line. Incorporated less than three years after the Civil War, on January 4, 1868, as the Erie and Genesee Valley Railroad, the company completed construction between Mount Morris and Dansville, 15.5 miles, at a cost of $191,302, in 1871, and the Erie Railroad, which had encouraged construction of the short line, immediately leased it. As the Erie at that time had a broad gauge of 6 feet between rails, it is likely the Erie and Genesee Valley also featured that gauge; if so, when in June 1880, the Erie narrowed its tracks to the standard gauge of 4 feet, 8-1/2 inches, the Erie & Genesee Valley must also have done so. The terms of the lease Jay Gould had established proved very adverse to the Erie & Genesee Valley, and on October 21, 1891, the Dansville and Mount Morris Railroad was incorporated as a reorganization of the Erie and Genesee Valley. But the new company, independent at last of the Erie, proved too weak financially to meet interest payments, and on June 8, 1894, the company entered a receivership that was to last until September 30, 1927. The initial receiver, Ambrose S. Murray, Jr., who held the post for 31 years, failed to revive the line to the point of terminating the receivership, but on May 19, 1925, E.M. Harter and Clifford Hubbell became receivers and had begun to pull the railroad out of its financial cesspool by the end of that same year. Their aggressive management terminated the receivership in less than three years, and less than two years after that, on July 6, 1929, they bought from the Akron, Canton & Youngstown Railroad its Locomotive No. 304, whose number they retained. In early years, the railroad connected with the Erie, but during its later years, it connected with the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad at Groveland, New York.

Views of No. 304 on the Akron, Canton & Youngstown Railroad have yet to be located, but the locomotive was well-photographed on trackage of its subsequent owner, the Dansville & Mount Morris Railroad. In a summertime view, the angle bar rather than boiler tube pilot, which replaced the locomotive's original hardwood pilot, is evident, the flanges on the sides of the tender have been reduced in height, the headlight lowered to center on the smokebox front, and the old Nickel Plate Road front number plate mounted just beneath the headlight.
Medefoto, Steamtown Foundation Collection.

The Dansville and Mount Morris Railroad operated Locomotive No. 304 intermittently for another quarter-century. The company also acquired a Lackawanna Mogul, No. 565. and to gain time on compulsory renewal of boiler tubes, adopted the unusual policy of laying one engine up for an entire year while the other worked steadily, borrowing an Erie locomotive if their one "in-service" locomotive broke down. For repairs, the railroad relied on a boilermaker from the Erie's nearby Hornell Shops. In later years, the road operated only the 7.8 miles from Dansville to the Lackawanna connection at Groveland. Both of the later engines, Nos. 304 and 565, reportedly steamed freely on a very light fire, and thus kept fuel costs extraordinarily low, which in later years deterred Diesel salesmen. The line hauled feed, fuel, and light manufactures, its principal shipper being the Foster-Wheeler plant at Dansville that manufactured marine boilers and allied equipment. It was a mystery to many how so small a railroad could survive after nearly a century; David P. Morgan, editor of Trains magazine, visited the line in 1956 and characterized it as follows:

It owns 2 locomotives.
It has 2 stockholders.
It has 15 employees.
Net income in 1954 was about enough to buy a Ford, and in 1955 there wasn't any.

Nevertheless, he pointed out, from 1937 until 1956 it had paid yearly dividends! He subtitled his article on the Dansville and Mount Morris and several other short line railroads in the twilight of steam locomotives in America, "A story of small, elderly engines."

But even small, elderly engines finally come to the end of track. It was in the year after Morgan's visit, 1957, that the Dansville and Mount Morris Railroad finally retired No. 304, selling it on June 25, 1957, to Myers Steel and Supply Company, a scrap dealer. However, the Myers firm never removed the engine from the Dansville and Mount Morris property, and in 1963, F. Nelson Blount learned of it and arranged to purchase it for $1,256 f.o.b. Dansville, New York. Dansville and Mount Morris General Manager F.A. Hart wanted Blount to be clear on the condition of the engine, and wrote him on November 18, 1963, after receiving Blount's $500 down payment:

Frankly I never expected to hear from you but before I make out a bill of sale there are several things I want to be sure we both understand. The engine is exactly the way it was when you inspected it viz: minus the water glass and fixture, the feed valve and the injector. The glass in headlight is broken and someone stole the builders number plate. As I informed you the [other] missing items were sold to the A&A [Arcade & Attica] R.R.

I have ordered a beam for the rear of the tank [tender] from a sawmill at a cost of $15.00, delivery promised in about two weeks. The train crew of 3 men have agreed to install the timber, take off the main and side rods, block the crossheads and fix the air on Saturdays, but they won't do anything until after the hunting season is over which I think is December 7th. They figure it will take them 4 Saturdays to do this work which would be 96 hours at $2.25 per hour or $216.00. We will have to hire a mobile crane to load the 4 side rods onto the tank which will cost $25.00 making the total cost of $256.00.

Whether the repairs took longer than anticipated or other delays occurred is not clear, but it was not until March 17, 1964, that the Dansville and Mount Morris shipped Engine 304 out on the Erie-Lackawanna via Binghamton and Mechanicville and the destination was to be Bellows Falls, Vermont, where Blount had moved from North Walpole, New Hampshire.

The only American-built ten-wheeler type in the Steamtown collection, No. 44 (No. 304) may be the oldest New York, Chicago & St. Louis Railroad engine surviving, of which there are 12, half of which are Berkshires and a quarter of which are Mikados, the others being a Hudson and a six-coupled switcher, and, of course, No. 44. Furthermore, No. 44 is the only surviving steam locomotive of the Akron, Canton & Youngstown Railroad, no other locomotive of its eventually sizable roster of steam power having been preserved. No. 304 is one of two Dansville and Mount Morris locomotives to survive, the other one, Lackawanna No. 565, also in the Steamtown collection.

The most notable changes in the appearance of this locomotive were replacement of its wooden pilot with a steel pilot, replacement of its box headlight with a Pyle headlight relocated from the top of the smokebox ahead of the stack to the center of the smokebox front, and cutting down of the flange at the top of the tender sides. On the A.C.& Y. the headlight had been moved already to the center of the smokebox front, with the original Nickel Plate number plate hanging from the headlight platform's front edge, and this configuration continued on the Dansville and Mount Morris. If Steamtown has the headlight bracket and Pyle headlight stored in the collection, it may also have the original Nickel Plate smokebox-front number plate. It is not known whether it was the New York, Chicago & St. Louis Railroad itself which relocated the headlight and number plate, or whether that was done on the Akron, Canton & Youngstown in the 1920s. The engine has a steel cab which dates from before 1910 and appears to be the engine's original cab.

Condition: Mechanically, this locomotive is in very poor condition and probably cannot be made operable without great cost and at the expense of much of its original fabric. As an exhibit specimen, this locomotive has comparatively more integrity dating from its original construction than do most locomotives of comparable age. Restoration to its early appearance as Nickel Plate No. 44 of the 1905- 1910 period appears feasible.

Recommendation: This excellent example of a Nickel Plate 4-6-0 should be preserved by the National Park Service, which should commission an in-depth report, to document and describe the history and physical history of the locomotive. Unless the locomotive appears under close examination to be in much better mechanical condition than assumed, it should be considered an exhibit locomotive not to be fired up and not to be restored to operable condition. It should be accurately restored to reflect one of the three major periods in its history. This special history study leans toward restoring the locomotive to its Brooks "as built" appearance as New York, Chicago & St. Louis Railroad No. 44, of the 1905-1910 period, a recommendation made after serious and thoughtful consideration. Locomotives of comparable age in the Steamtown collection generally have been so altered over the years that restoration to their earliest appearance is not feasible without unacceptable cost to original fabric of a later era. The changes to this particular locomotive, however, appear to have been so minimal that it may be possible at comparatively little cost to historic fabric to restore the locomotive to its earliest appearance. if, after the more thorough examination of a historic railroad locomotive report, that proves to be the case, then such restoration should be done so that at least one locomotive in the Steamtown collection will represent its appearance during the first decade of the 20th century, since the 20th century in steam railroading is a recommended focus of this collection. If the locomotive is restored to its pre-1910 appearance, removal of the later Pyle headlight and the steel pilot would be necessary; these and any other components removed should then be cataloged into, and stored as a part of, the museum collection and their association with this locomotive documented. In the process of preparing the report, physical analysis of paint on the locomotive should be carefully carried out, to document the colors of boiler and cylinder jackets, domes, smokebox, driver centers, and tender, and to document placement, shape, color and size of any early letters and numbers that survive under later paint. The documentary research for the report should especially focus on obtaining early photographs of this class of 4-6-0 on the New York, Chicago, & St. Louis and later on the Akron, Canton & Youngstown.

In a view during winter, Dansville & Mount Morris Railroad No. 304 carried a wedge snowplow bolted to her angle-bar pilot or "cow-catcher". The arched side windows of her cab bespoke her Nickel Plate Road origin.
Universal Slide Company, Steamtown Foundation Collection


Beebe, Lucius, and Charles Clegg. Mixed Train Daily: A Book of Short-Line Railroads. Berkeley: Howell-North Books, 1961: xiv, 5, 256-259, 276, 280, 339.

Connor, M.J. "A Brief History of the Akron, Canton & Youngstown Railroad." National Railway Bulletin, Vol. 47, No. 5 (1982): 36-38.

Correspondence, invoices, telegrams, bills of lading, relating to movement of No. 304 from Dansville, New York, to Bellows Falls, Vermont, in 1963-1964. Steamtown Foundation files.

Hampton, Taylor. The Nickel Plate Road: The History of a Great Railroad. Cleveland: World Publishing, 1947. Copyright was held by the New York, Chicago & St. Louis Railroad, so this was a company-sponsored history.

Lewis, Edward A. American Short Line Railway Guide. Strasburg: The Baggage Car, 1975. See pp. 62, 114.

"Locomotives of Four New York State Roads." Railroad Magazine, Vol. 29, No. 2 (Jan. 1941): 136-137.

Moody's Transportation Manual, 1962. New York: Moody's Investors' Service, Inc., 1962: 65-82, 394-400, 530.

Morgan, David P. "Steam in Indian Summer, 7; A story of small, elderly engines." Trains, Vol. 17, No. 2 (Dec. 1956): 26-27.

Poor, Henry V. Manual of the Railroads of the United States for 1883. New York: H.V. & H.W. Poor, 1883: 591, 592.

Poor, H.V., and H.W. Poor. Poor's Manual of the Railroads of the United States, 1900. New York: H.V. & H.W. Poor, 1900: 142-144.

Poor's Manual of Railroads, 1920. New York: Poor's Publishing, 1920: 901-907, 1482-1484, 1670.

Rehor, John A. The Nickel Plate Story. Milwaukee: Kalmbach Publishing, 1965: 389-391.

Richardson, Robert W. Telephone communication with author, June 16, 1988.

_________. "Reminiscences of Akron, Canton & Youngstown Ten-Wheelers during the 1920s. Unpublished manuscript, n.d. Steamtown NHS collection.

"Spotlight on: The Dansville & Mount Morris." Short-Line Railroader, Vol. 1, No. 6 (Nov. 1954): 4-6.

Young, William S. "Short Lines." Trains, Vol. 24, No. 8 (June 1964): 14.

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Last Updated: 14-Feb-2002