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New York, Chicago, and St. Louis Railroad locomotive


New York, Chicago & St. Louis Railroad 514
Norfolk and Western Railway 2514

Whyte System Type: 0-4-4-0
A.A.R. Type: B-B
Class: ERS-17E Model GP9

Builder: Electro-Motive Division, General Motors Corporation, La Grange, Ill.
Date Built: 1958
Builder's Number: 24505

Cylinders (diameter x stroke in inches): 8-1/2 x 10

Boiler Pressure (in lbs. per square inch): Not applicable

Diameter of Drive Wheels (in inches): 40

Tractive Effort (in lbs.): Horsepower: 1,750

Tender Capacity:

Coal (in tons): Not applicable
Oil (in gallons): 1,800
Water (in gallons):

Weight on Drivers (in lbs.):


New York, Chicago and St. Louis Railroad GP-9 Diesel-Electric Locomotive No. 514

History: The Norfolk Southern Corporation came to life in March 1982 with Interstate Commerce Commission approval to merge the Norfolk and Western Railway and the Southern Railway into one mostly end-to-end system, blanketing the southeastern United States from New Orleans, Louisiana; Mobile, Alabama; and Palatka, Florida, north to Washington, D.C., and to Memphis, Tennessee (principally the territory of the old Southern Railway), and from Norfolk, Virginia, westward through West Virginia to Cincinnati, Ohio, and as far as East St. Louis, Illinois (largely the territory of the old Norfolk and Western Railway).

Meanwhile, the transportation museum at Roanoke, Virginia, had obtained on loan from the Steamtown Foundation in Vermont for temporary exhibit the "A" Class former Norfolk and Western 2-6-6-4 articulated Locomotive No. 1218. Over a period of years that museum came to regard the locomotive as its property, not a loan, and the Norfolk and Western (N&W) eventually got into the matter when it desired to overhaul the locomotive for operation for publicity purposes, railfan excursions, and other special events. While the Steamtown Foundation apparently had a clear title to the locomotive and the Roanoke museum did not, the N&W put further pressure on the Steamtown group by indicating it would never allow the locomotive to move over its rails out of Roanoke, effectively the only way Steamtown could get it back. Since Steamtown had no answer to this stand, and was by then in the process of moving to Scranton, Pennsylvania, the Steamtown Board decided to accept two diesel- electric locomotives from the Norfolk and Western, which by then had come under the corporate umbrella of the Norfolk Southern, in exchange for giving the Norfolk Southern clear title to No. 1218.

Before creation of the Norfolk Southern, the Norfolk and Western had recently merged with the old Nickel Plate Road, known by the corporate name of New York, Chicago and St. Louis Railroad, and with the Wabash Railroad, acquiring from those firms not only their track but all their locomotives, which left the consolidated Norfolk and Western and eventually the Norfolk Southern with surplus and somewhat out-of-date motive power. Thus it proved no problem for the Norfolk Southern to come up with a Nickel Plate GP-9, No. 514, and a former Wabash SW-8 switcher to offer in exchange for No. 1218, a small price to pay for so valuable and rare a steam locomotive.

The Norfolk and Western GP-9 locomotive that the Norfolk Southern traded to Steamtown (the SW-8 is treated in a later section of this study under the heading Wabash Railroad) had been built in 1958 for the New York, Chicago and St. Louis Railroad, but carried the lettering, as had long been the custom even in the days of steam locomotives, of that railroad's nickname: "Nickel Plate Road." A general purpose B-B type diesel-electric, equivalent to a road switcher, it had been built by the Electro Motive Division of the General Motors Corporation at La Grange, Illinois. The locomotive was the fifth in the ERS-17e class of 20 locomotives numbered 510 through 529. Weighing 245,800 pounds, the locomotive put out a tractive effort of 61,450 pounds.

The operational history of this locomotive has not been researched, but as Jim Boyd and M.C. McIlwain observed in their 1967 article on the line, the Nickel Plate Road "was a bridge-route freight hauler in the most competitive market in the country." Between the Illinois traffic "gateways," or connections with other railroad systems, and Buffalo, New York, the Nickel Plate had the reputation of providing fast service. During the 1950s its classic fast Berkshire steam locomotives regularly outran the diesel-electric locomotives of its competitors, especially the New York Central, the Erie and the Wabash, a situation that created little enthusiasm for early conversion to diesel-electric locomotives. Consequently, although the New York, Chicago and St. Louis bought diesel-electric yard switchers as early as 1940, it bought no road units until the 1950s. This relatively late acquisition of main line diesel-electric motive power spared the Nickel Plate the era of diesel experimentation in the 1940s that, as Boyd and McIlwain pointed out, "cluttered the rosters of most other roads" with oddball, experimental, and less-than-satisfactory locomotives. When finally it bought diesel-electric locomotives, completing dieselization of its motive power roster in 1958, the Nickel Plate invested conservatively in Alco PAs for passenger trains and hood units for all freight service: Alco or EMD B-B types (with two pair of four-wheel trucks each) for main line traffic and secondary line freight hauls, and C-C units from the same builders (featuring two six-wheel power trucks each) for use in the coal fields of southern Ohio. No. 514 counted among the B-B units used on main lines and secondary freight lines.

In 1966, the old New York, Chicago and St. Louis, the famed Nickel Plate Road, lost its identity through merger into the Norfolk & Western Railway. At the same time, the N&W swallowed the Nickel Plate's old adversary, the Wabash Railroad, creating a system under the N&W name that stretched from Norfolk, Virginia, and Hagerstown, Maryland, to Buffalo, New York; Chicago, Illinois; and St. Louis, Missouri (or to be absolutely precise, across the river from it to East St. Louis, Illinois), including most of the territory between such points.

The Norfolk and Western Railroad had been organized on January 15, 1896, under the laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia to succeed the old Norfolk and Western Railroad, which it did on September 24, 1896. That company had been incorporated on May 3, 1881, to take over the Atlantic, Mississippi and Ohio River Railroad, which had defaulted on payment on bonds. The latter company had come into existence on November 12, 1870, as a consolidation of the Norfolk & Petersburg Railroad, chartered on March 15, 1851 and opened for business in 1852; the South Side Railroad, chartered in 1846 and opened for business in 1854; and the Virginia & Tennessee, chartered in 1849 and opened for business in 1857. So the Norfolk and Western's antecedents predated the Civil War.

The Norfolk and Western, on merging with the Nickel Plate and the Wabash, renumbered the motive power of the three roads into a compatible system, which required renumbering the 510 series Nickel Plate diesels into the 2510 through 2529 series, wherein No. 514 became No. 2514. A second renumbering by the Norfolk and Western did not affect this particular locomotive, which remained No. 2514. After coming under the Norfolk Southern umbrella, the Norfolk and Western retired No. 2514 on April 5, 1985, and gave it to the Steamtown Foundation in Scranton, Pennsylvania, which promptly repainted it to Nickel Plate colors and lettering, still later repainting and relettering it fictionally as a Lackawanna locomotive so it would be compatible with the steam locomotive and passenger cars used on the excursions out of Scranton to Elmhurst and later Moscow and Pocono Summit.

Condition: This locomotive is basically operational.

Recommendation: No. 514 is used by Steamtown NHS as its basic shop and yard switcher, since it is far easier to maintain and operate for these limited operations than any steam locomotive in the collection. It should be repainted and relettered in a historically accurate Nickel Plate Road color scheme.


Boyd, Jim, and M. Chadwick McIlwain. "Nickel Plate Road," Railroad Model Craftsman, Vol. 36, No. 6 (Nov. 1967): 26-33.

Dover, Dan. "Nickel Plate Road (New York, Chicago & St. Louis), A Final Roster," Extra 2200 South, The Locomotive Newsmagazine, Vol. 13, No. 10 (April-May-June 1968): 30.

Jane's World Railways, 1986-87. New York: Jane's Publishing, Inc., n.d.: 814-815. [Norfolk Southern information.]

Moody's Transportation Manual, 1962. New York: Moody's Investors' Service, Inc., 1962: 65-82, 841-857, 1135-1155, 1405.

Rehor, John A. The Nickel Plate Story. Milwaukee: Kalmbach Publishing Company, 1965. [See especially p. 417.]

Reich, Sy. "Final Roster of the Nickel Plate Road." Railroad, Vol. 102, No. 3 (July 1977): 52-53.

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Last Updated: 14-Feb-2002