The Journal Gazette
Thursday, April 27, 2017 1:00 am

Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday: Nickel Plate Railroad elevation construction and dedication

COREY MCMAKEN | The Journal Gazette

The Nickel Plate railroad elevation was dedicated Oct. 4, 1955, at the Calhoun Street crossing downtown.

The project was seen as important by many at the time because the railroad divided the city. There were beliefs that the trains at ground level downtown were dangerous and that building efforts on the north side of town would flourish after the elevation was completed.

It took about 32 years of negotiations, haggling and public meetings before work began on the elevation. A “definite agreement” was made in 1927 to elevate the Nickel Plate railroad at Fairfield Avenue and Harrison, Calhoun, Clinton, Lafayette and Clay streets.

Cost splitting between the railroad and the city, however, delayed construction through the 1930s until state legislation helped resolve the conflict.

But in the early 1940s, the project was again delayed because material and manpower were needed instead for the war effort. Things moved along again in the late '40s as the project earned state approval, but stalled again due to the Korean War, according to Journal Gazette archives.

Bonds were issued and contracts signed in 1953 and ground was broken on Dec. 11 of that year by then-Mayor Harry W. Baals.

According to a 1955 story in The Journal Gazette, about 150 workmen were needed for the project, which included 10.5 million pounds of structured steel and 1.6 million pounds of reinforced steel. There were 23,000 feet of foundation piles, 185,000 cubic yards of excavated fill dirt and 7,800 yards of concrete in the piers, abutments and retaining walls.

– Corey McMaken, The Journal Gazette

Throwback Thursday appears the last week of the month. To see more archive photos throughout the month, follow @JGFeatures on Twitter. To suggest a date or event to be featured, email

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