Trail plans continue to south . . .
Plans are coming together for re-introducing excursion train travel on the Nickel Plate north from Noblesville by late spring of next year, according to County Tourism Director Brenda Myers. A newly organized entity known as Nickel Plate Heritage Railroad Inc., will soon be entering a contractual agreement with the county port authority, owner of the tracks, for operating the train service.
Currently the Heritage Railroad leaders, assisted by the Tourism Bureau, are seeking funding for various improvements at the Arcadia depot and in Atlanta where trains will end their 12-mile run. Track repairs are also needed. All told about $1 million is expected to be required for the project.
In addition, rolling stock is being sought, possibly to be leased from various sources. What part, if any, the Indiana Transportation Museum will play has not been announced. The museum was denied access to the railroad last year due to safety concerns, but the organization has a considerable number of train cars and engines at its Forest Park facility.
Myers says Tourism’s plan is to assist in boosting the tourism interest and economies of the northern Hamilton County communities of Atlanta, Arcadia and Cicero through which the Nickel Plate runs. She says trains will likely leave from Noblesville’s pocket park near 8th and Clinton streets on their route north.
Meanwhile, preliminary plans are underway for development of the Nickel Plate walking trail and the removal of the railroad tracks between Pleasant Street and 146th Street. South of 146th the City of Fishers will develop the trail to 96th Street.
But don’t plan hiking on the trail anytime soon. Noblesville city officials are concentrating on the Midland Trail, the second phase of which is scheduled to get underway next year. Eventually that trail will run east from Westfield to intersect the Nickel Plate at Pleasant Street. Apparently, the tracks will remain intact from Pleasant through downtown Noblesville.
While these plans are underway, the organization known as Save the Nickel Plate is waiting for the federal Surface Transportation Board to finish hearing comments from the public before making a decision on whether to grant a request to place the railroad in a “rail bank”. The Hoosier Heritage Port Authority, as owners, have asked for this designation to preserve the right to return the rail right-of-way to a railroad should that be needed in the future. A so-called Light Rail commuter train has been envisioned in long-range mass transit studies.
This week Save the Nickel Plate, which opposes conversion of the rail line to a Monon-type trail, elected Logan Day as president. He works in the railroad business at Kokomo and is a dedicated train enthusiast. The group has not announced what it might do toward saving the rail line after the Transportation Board makes its ruling.