The Nickel Plate is not the most typical line to consider, but its unique qualities tell us about the complex nature of the railroad business. The Nickel Plate Road was built late in the railroad boom and ran through an already well-developed region. There are many fans of the Nickel Plate today. Go here for two examples:
John Fryar's Nickel Plate Road
and The Nickel Plate Road
Historical & Technical Society (These links lead to sites not in
Unlike previous lines, the Nickel Plate did not bring the growth of
new towns along its tracks, did not rely on government assistance for its
construction, and did not originate most of its traffic. The railroad survived
by offering the transfer of freight in a consistent and efficient manner.
The Nickel Plate lacked double tracks like many of the earlier lines and
it had to count on attracting excess business from other lines. This also
meant that most freight it transferred would run along a west-east route,
from St. Louis to Buffalo, New York, instead of an east-west direction.
|The back door of Nickel Plate Car No.91|
The Clover Leaf, the successor of the largest narrow gauge track east of the Mississippi, provided the Nickel Plate with railheads to St. Louis. Following a little of the Nickel Plate's early history illuminates one rail system that participated in East St. Louis' reliance on the railroads.
To learn more about railroads and rail facilities, go to the RiverWeb Archives and view excerpts from J.L. Ringwalt's 1888 book, The Development of Transportation Systems in the United States.
|The Nickel Plate Property in East St. Louis
1930s Sanborn Fire Insurance Map