NYC Niagara 6015
From: Richard C. Jacobs
Subject: NYC # 6015
Date: Mon, 1 Dec 2003
Mr Roger Hensley:
After visiting your web-site, and your NYC Group Forum, I have the impression that you are pretty knowledgable of the NYC Beech Grove Shops. With that in mind I want to pose a question to you in hopes of getting a positive answer.
It is my understanding that only two NYC Niagara class engines were ever on the drop table at Beech Grove. They were #6009 and #6015. Can you confirm this? If this is correct, the # 6015 would have been there in late May of 1955.
Reason being, early one Saturday morning in late May, 1955, this engine was bringing The OHIO STATE LTD. into Columbus, Ohio from Cleveland. A few miles north of Columbus the Engineman noticed a lurch of the engine going over a crossing. The train was stopped, it was discovered that the tire was starting to come off the number four wheel on the Enginemans side of the engine.
The engine was detatched, spotted on the siding at Flint, a relief engine was brought out to take the train on to Cincinnati. As a kid of eleven, and living nearby, I went to see this big, beautiful engine, after eating my Wheaties. A man there in the cab invited me up. He was not the Engineman (probably a Road Foreman). In a nutshell I got to sit in both seats, shovel coal, sweep up what I spilled. I clearly remember him asking me if I would like to run the engine up and down the siding. The thought kind of scared me, I declined. (I know I've shot myself a thousand times over for that decision). To this day, I can still see the disappointment in that mans eyes. He was enjoying himself.
He told me that a crew was coming down from Galion, Ohio to take the engine to ?????, Indiana. To correct this problem the axle set would have to come off the engine, thereby the drop-table would have to be used. Years later I figured it was Beech Grove.
When I climbed down the left gangway ladder, I walked all the way around the tender, and up the entire right side. When I got around to the front, I looked up at that headlight and number plate and thought I'll never forget that number. WELL, GUESS WHAT. All I can remember is that it was in the range of # 6015 - # 6019
That was over forty-eight years ago, and I would sure like to know for sure what engine that was before I die. It was a great memory. Can you help me in any way. Thank you.
Richard C. Jacobs
And now, replies...
From: Maurice Lewman
Richard Jacob's above story was out of my knowledge. I then contacted Bob Foster former Road Foreman of Engines in this time frame. The 6009 is still in question but Richard's question about the 6015 I believe is answered unless someone with a more personal knowledge comes forward.
When an engine slipped a tire they usually sent a crew out and heated the tire and lined it back on the wheel until the engine could be shopped and the tire replaced. This is why the 6015 was at Beech Grove. It was the only place on the NYC, in this time period, that could work on the S-1.
Bob Foster's first answer of December 3rd, as can be seen, answers the question and notice the history in the answer. I thanked Bob Foster and he in turn answered with the December 4th message.
I don't know if this is enough proof, but to me it leaves little doubt. This is a guess but they did this sometimes when a tire slipped. With 6015 being in the siding they would keep the engine fire alive that is why the fireman was on the 6015. They would send a crew out and heat the tire and reline it to forward the engine to the shop. Bob Foster (WRF) probably saw the 6015 at this time because a tire did not slip that often.
From: Bob Foster
Don't know if I can help. Unfortunately for me I was promoted from RFE to Trainmaster of the Cincinnati Northern and remained there 1954 to 1957. The light rail on the CN meant that the L and S classes were not allowed to operate there. When I was transferred back to the mainline on Illinois Division in Oct 1957 the steam had all disappeared (last steam was May 1957). I do recall being at Beech Grove and seeing the 6015 hanging in the cradle (awaiting major overhaul-tires, driving boxes, etc., but the decision was made to not continue repairs and the loco was dropped back on the drivers and set out in the "dead line". This same visit I saw locomotive bells stacked three high in the bay adjacent to the S-1. They were giving them to schools and churches on request. I'll never forget that visit to Beech Grove and I should have taken some memorabilia but it was a sad day for me since I loved the J, L, and S classes.
December 4, 2003
I think you are right about my visit to see the 6015 hanging helplessly in the cradle at Beech Grove. I can't recall the date and have no diary for that period. Must have been in Indianapolis for a meeting or something. It would have been during my tour on the Cincinnati Northern. Recall that we used to detour the NKP trains between Latty and Bryan when they were running those beautiful 700 Class 2-8-4s and never had any difficulty getting my CN engineers for pilot service and what pretty music that exhaust made up thru Sherwood, etc. - WRF
December 4, 2003
A comment on the December 4 message concerning the NKP 2-8-4. We crossed the NKP at Claypool, IN and those NKP 2-8-4 locomotives did sound good. (see Stack Talk) The NKP was picking up at Claypool and we were setting off. As we passed our engine was thumping and clanging and the NKP engine was like a pair of
scissors, swish swish. - Maurice
Richard C. Jacobs responds
You found the needle in the haystack!!!! I am so grateful to you, Mr. Foster and Mr. Lewman. This is a blessing to me. Thank all of you very, very much.
It was our pleasure Richard. Glad we could help. - rph
Maurice worked the Michigan Division from 1947-1981. He then worked on the Bee Line from 1981-1992. From 1947 until august 1950, he worked on the section at Shirley and Markleville. In 1950 he started firing on steam and then on through the diesels. Maurice said, "I had the pleasure of working with C. C. Staley and Ron Buser many times."
NYC 6015 at Beech Grove in 1955. Photo by Soph Marty.