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Nickel Plate Express uses a 1956 F9 diesel locomotive originally built for the Erie Mining Company. 4214 provides the main locomotive power for all Nickel Plate Express excursions. The locomotive boasts a silver, black and yellow collaborative Nickel Plate scheme.

a truck traveling down a dirt road

4214 in its original Erie Mining paint scheme

a train on a steel track

426 sits peacefully in the yard at Forest Park


This 1953 Nickel Plate Road GP7 is a favorite among local train fans. Built in La Grange, IN, the 426 spent most of its life in freight service in Frankfort. Today, the 426 provides locomotive power to weekend caboose and passenger trains. Sporting its original Nickel Plate Road paint job, the locomotive is a lovely site to see crossing Hamilton County’s White River or Morse Reservoir. Read more bout 426 and its restoration here.


The groundbreaking Santa Fe Railroad Hi-Level passenger cars were developed in 1956 to provide exceptional comfort on the El Capitan luxury train which operated between Chicago and Los Angeles. Unlike conventional passenger cars, these hi-levels were two stories tall, with an upper and lower level. Passenger seating is located on the upper level, offering better views and a quieter, more comfortable ride. Developed by the Budd Company of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the cars were so successful Santa Fe ordered similar cars built in 1964. At the time, the El Capitan hi-levels were among the tallest and heaviest passenger cars ever built. Nickel Plate Express excursions are hosted aboard three El Capitan coaches, as well as a dining car.

a group of people standing in front of a window

Passengers enjoy bourbon sampling in the dining car

a train on a steel track

The Santa Fe El Capitan cars head toward Noblesville, led by the 50-tonner.


Small but mighty, the 50-tonner switching engine is a favorite among Nickel Plate Express employees. Affectionately known as the ‘Critter,’ the origins of the switcher are unknown. Built in the 1950s, the critter provides power to excursion and caboose trains as needed and is a trusted back-up to the road locomotives!

Support rail history and education! All tax deductible donations help Nickel Plate Express to continue operating on 12 miles of the former Nickel Plate Road. Donations allow us to continue educating and introducing new generations to the magic and history of rail travel.


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