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August, 1947: A sound foreign to Bluffton's ears

The first-ever diesel locomotive passed through town on a test run

Sunday’s run of the demonstrator was witnessed by only a handful of persons, gathered at the station to see the locomotive, for advance notice that the train was coming thru was received here only a couple hours before it was scheduled.

Remember seeing your first-ever electric-driven vehicle in Bluffton? Compare that to the following image: It passed through Bluffton in an unusual color scheme (reddish-orange) blasting a very foreign sound (a “hoarse” whistle).


Bluffton residents witnessed the beginning of a new era in August 1947 as the first-ever diesel locomotive hauled freight cars through town on a test run.


Prior to that, only steam-powered, coal-fed black locomotives with their distinct deep-throated song visited here.


Although not earth shattering today, railroad’s switch from steam to diesel, was like switching from a gas-driven vehicle to one powered by electric batteries.


The Bluffton News even published the event on its Aug. 21, 1947 front page. Here’s the headline and story.


Diesel engines to

be added in fall

on Nickel Plate


First demonstrator goes thru

Bluffton Sunday on test run


Plan to put diesels on NKP

Flyers this year; May discontinue stops here

Forerunner of a fleet to be added in a Nickel Plate Railroad improvement program, the first diesel-powered locomotive seen in Bluffton went over the tracks of the railroad here Sunday afternoon at 3:20 p.m.


Hauling the regular afternoon thru freight, the diesel engine burning oil for fuel was on a demonstration run ordered by railroad officials, who are said to be contemplating adding 11 diesels on the Nickel Plate system this fall.


Two of the new-type engines are scheduled for operation on the Sandusky-Peoria division, thru Bluffton, to pull the St. Louis-Cleveland Flyer. It is expected that the change from steam to diesel locomotion will be made in late fall, approximately November or December.


No stops here

According to current unconfirmed reports, the St. Louis-Cleveland Flyer may not stop in Bluffton after the new locomotives are added.



Instead two local trains would be added to make stops here, with the Flyer scheduled to pick up passengers only at Lima and Findlay in this area.


Sunday’s run of the demonstrator was witnessed by only a handful of persons, gathered at the station to see the locomotive, for advance notice that the train was coming thru was received here only a couple hours before it was scheduled.


With its motors humming and a hoarse whistle blasting for crossings, the reddish-orange colored diesel locomotive went through Bluffton at slow speed. It was pulling a train of 68 loaded freight cars and a caboose.


On demonstration

The diesel engine took over the train at Bellevue and pulled it to Lima, where it was replaced by a coal burning engine.


At Lima the diesel switched to the D.T. and I. tracks, also for demonstration purposes. Later in the week it is expected to return through Bluffton eastbound.


The locomotive on the first test run bore the number FM 2000 and is manufactured by the Fairbanks-Morse Co.


On the train crew were F. M. Bodicker, Lima, engineer; J. R. Brown, fireman; D. W. Thompson, conductor; and R. L. Sullivan and B. F. Bower, brakemen.


This is the probable color scheme of the first diesel to pass through Bluffton

This is the probable design of that diesel

This is the familiar steam locomotive all Bluffton residents knew and it was soon to be replaced by the diesel


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