CASTILE – Letchworth State Park was graced with a special appearance by one of Western New York’s most loved locomotives on Saturday, and thrilled visitors to the park have been posting their spectacular photos on social media. Check out the video below by Ken Wallace.
According to the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society, Nickel Plate Road engine no. 765 is a high-stepping, fourteen-wheeled locomotive that stands 15 feet tall, weighs 404 tons, goes over 60 miles an hour, and is restored to look and sound exactly as it did when it was made by the Lima Locomotive Works in Ohio in 1944.
“Today was a day to go in my history book. A day that I will forever be grateful. I took my father to see this remarkable event today,” posted park visitor Stacy Malone to Facebook. “His father worked for New York Central. He passed away a year ago. As my Dad saw this second to last car go by today I heard him say ‘I wish my Dad could see this.” I’m so glad that we were able to.”
The locomotive is a Bershire, known for its superpower technology and aesthetic charm.
“These were precision machines forged and crafted from solid steel,” says the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society website. “They meant something to those who worked in their shadow. Make no mistake, however, these iron horses, so often romanticized, take hard, unwieldy work to corral and maintain. They lived and breathed, had voices and moods, and hummed with an audible heartbeat; they were the most human of all our inventions.”
At the end of the steam era, several of the eminent Nickel Plate Berkshires locomotives were stored at the Nickel Plate’s relatively new East Wayne yards. Both no. 765 and no. 767 were among the ‘sleeping sisters’ in the engine house and after sufficient slumber, the 765 was resurrected in 1958 to supply heat to a stranded passenger train in Fort Wayne.
From 1972 to 1980, the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society restored Nickel Plate 765.
Leased by the Southern Railroad for twenty-two trips in 1982, the locomotive earned its stripes on routes through mountainous terrain and rocketed across the midwest in later excursions out of Chicago, Fort Wayne, Cincinnati, and Buffalo, New York, to name a few.
The 765’s reach extended as far east as New Jersey and south to Georgia, and served the New River Trains through West Virginia, carrying behind it the longest passenger train excursions in history. In the meantime, the 765 appeared in two feature films: 1981’s Four Friends and 1987 Matewan.