The Nickel Plate Road Historical & Technical Society

Bellevue (Ohio) Gazette Merger Article


Changes Occur In Mid-October

Bellevue Gazette
October 9, 1964

A name synonymous to the history and growth of Bellevue will fade into oblivion at midnight, October 15. On that date the title, "Nickel Plate Road", will be erased. It will be replaced by the name, "The Norfolk & Western Railway System." Progress exacts its toll, and despite nostalgic memories harbored by older residents regarding the Nickel Plate, those responsible for the change-over indicate full confidence in the success of the new venture. They herald the new railroad merger, which has swallowed the Nickel Plate Railroad, as a boon to be the future of economic growth of Bellevue.

Fear that many local railroad workers would be eliminated during the process of the gigantic transition period have been eliminated. Union officials, in recent repeated sessions with Norfolk & Western heads, have been assured that employment rolls will remain the same in this community.

The only work effects to be noted will be the compulsory retirement of about 127 Nickel Plate employees throughout the system who have reached the age of 65. These men will be placed on pensions on or before the first of next year, with full approval of the various railroad unions.

Among many drastic changes to be incorporated in the turnover will be the elimination of the general superintendent's office in Bellevue. C.W. Matthews, present General Superintendent of the NKP, will take over new duties at Toledo starting Friday, October 16. He will be in charge of all yard operations of the Wabash and Wheeling railroads in that city, and will bear the title of Terminal Superintendent under the N&W banner.

Under the Norfolk & Western system, which is to be used throughout the merged railroads, there will be no general superintendent. The system will be divided into four regions, with the western area being under Herbert Thinnes, former General Superintendent of the NKP at Bellevue, and more recently, the Vice-President and General Manager at the Cleveland office. He will be stationed at St. Louis, Mo. starting October 16. Replacing Mr. Matthews will be Mr. Dunlap, who will be the regional superintendent for this area. Mr. Dunlap is now stationed at Roanoke, VA. with the Norfolk & Western Railroad. It has not been revealed if the regional office under Mr. Dunlap will be located in Bellevue or in Cleveland. It is being assumed, because of geographical relations to the merged system, the office will be in Cleveland.

Although local union officials have reported that operations of all shops of the Wheeling District of the Nickel Plate Railroad will be moved from Brewster to Bellevue, no confirmation of this plan has been made available. It is being assumed that because of the heavy duty nature of locomotive repairs done at Brewster, a portion of the operations will remain in that city.

It has been definitely established that the railroad shops at Lima will be eliminated entirely under the new merger. All work now done in that city will be shunted to Bellevue.

Starting October 16, all Wabash Railroad trains now using the right of way in Canada north of Lake Erie will be routed through Bellevue. The freights will travel west on the Wheeling District out of Bellevue to Toledo, where they will be then routed either to Peru or St. Louis. Then they can continue as far west as Omaha or Kansas City.

As union representatives have reported, five or six yardmasters will be required in Bellevue to manage railroad traffic in the near future. It is being also assumed that present NKP and Wheeling District yards in this community must be enlarged eventually.

Starting on October 16, R.W. Castner, a native of Bellevue and former local yardmaster, will return to this city as an assistant superintendent. He will be in full control of all local yard operations. Mr. Castner is highly respected in railroad circles as the manager of the automatic and completely electrified yard at Buffalo, N.Y. during the past few years.

With the merger now effective on October 16, the Norfolk & Western will assume new ownership of the coal loading docks at Sandusky. The system also will own and operate the present Pennsylvania Railroad system from Columbus to Sandusky. It is being expected that many trains coming into Columbus will be routed over the newly acquired Columbus-Sandusky right-of-way to Bellevue.

It has also been unofficially reported that plans are under way by the merged N&W to construct new loading docks at Toledo in the near future.

A request from the Pennsylvania Railroad to use the present Nickel Plate right-of-way through Bellevue to move more ore cars to Shinrock to the Huron docks is being opposed by local union heads. They are of the opinion this movement of ore cars should be handled by the local system.

Economically Bellevue should benefit greatly by the new system, as it is reported approximately 150 new railroad workers will be stationed in this city starting soon after October 16. Also reported by union heads that workers on the Wabash system in Canada, with few exceptions, are refusing to move to the United States. They will be placed on a three year pension plan under contract agreements. An NKP spokesman said today this merger is one of the best things that ever happened to Bellevue.

Article provided by Ben Planck. Printed with permisson of the Bellevue Gazette.

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