Nickel Plate Road No. 587 is a coal-burning steam locomotive built in September 1918 by the Baldwin Locomotive Works of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Nickel Plate No. 587 was one of the 625 engines of its type commissioned by the United States Railroad Administration during World War 1 rearmament and one of 15 identical locomotives built for the former Lake Erie & Western Railroad. During 1922 the Lake Erie & Western and the Toledo, St. Louis & Western Railroad (bucolically known as the Clover Leaf Route) were acquired by the Nickel Plate Road. Operations of the three railroads were consolidated during the next two years and a system-wide renumbering program was adopted for locomotives and rolling stock. In 1924 Lake Erie & Western engines 5540-5554 became Nickel Plate Nos. 586-600. The second engine of this group, LE&W No. 5541, thus became Nickel Plate No. 587. All engines in this group were classified Nickel Plate Class H-6o and subsequently repainted and re-lettered.

Nickel Plate No. 587 is perhaps the best remaining example of a United States Railroad Administration (USRA) light Mikado steam locomotive, an outstanding design developed during World War I rearmament. This versatile and universally successful locomotive design was utilized in both freight and passenger service on railroads throughout the United States, and its design elements ultimately served as the basis of larger, more powerful locomotives built during the final three decades of steam locomotive construction in this country. Nickel Plate No. 587 escaped major modification during its 37 years of active service and thus represents the essential USRA light Mikado design in virtually original form. Of the 625 USRA light Mikados constructed between 1918 and 1920, No. 587 is one of only six known to exist in 1984, and of its original group of 15 it is the sole survivor.

Nickel Plate No. 587 is known as a Mikado locomotive because its wheel arrangement (two pilot wheels, eight driving wheels and two trailing wheels, or 2-8-2 type) was first used in an order of locomotives for the Japanese National Railways built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works during 1897. However, an order for 2-8-2 locomotives built by the American-Locomotive Company for the Northern Pacific Railway in 1905 represented the initial development of the Mikado design in its most familiar form . . . a medium-sized freight locomotive of American lineage and dimensions. Considered an outstanding locomotive in its time, the Northern Pacific design quickly eclipsed its predecessors and opened a new era of contemporary locomotive development. Hand-fired, these locomotives had a firebox grate area of 43.5 square feet, said to be about the maximum area that a fireman could handle continuously.

During its 37 year career on the Nickel Plate, No.587 was a frequent visitor to Indianapolis, on the route to Michigan City via Castleton and Noblesville. The locomotive was retired in March 1955. When Nickel Plate No. 587 was donated to the City of Indianapolis, and placed on display in Broad Ripple Park in September 1955, community leaders welcomed the opportunity to preserve a genuine steam locomotive for the education and enjoyment of Hoosiers of all ages. By 1983, however, vandalism and the elements had made ongoing preservation of the locomotive difficult. Following public hearings the locomotive was leased and eventually sold to the Indiana Transportation Museum.

The restoration of Nickel Plate No. 587 required nearly 5 years, consumed many thousands of volunteer man-hours and a quarter of a million dollars in donated money and materials. Through the efforts of Museum volunteers the Nickel Plate No. 587 was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. In September, 1988 Nickel Plate No. 587 made its triumphant return to active service pulling an excursion train between Indianapolis and Logansport Indiana.

The locomotive is currently undergoing federally mandated replacement of boiler tubes and flues. During inspection several areas of the firebox were found to be too thin and are being replaced.

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