Lake Erie & Western
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The acquisition of the Lake Erie & Western Railroad in 1922 united Nickel Plate with the railroad it had been built to complement forty years earlier.
The Lake Erie & Western's Sandusky to Peoria mainline started in Ohio with the Fremont & Indiana Railroad Company on April 22, 1853. The Fremont & Indiana was incorporated to build a line from Fremont southwest towards the Indiana State line. As years passed, more trackage was laid and through acquisitions the line was completed in 1888.
Crossing the LE&W at Tipton, Indiana was a line that extended from Indianapolis to Michigan City, Indiana. This line became part of the LE&W on April 8, 1887. Built by the Peru & Indianapolis, which was incorporated in Indiana on January 19, 1846, this was the first and oldest trackage on the Nickel Plate System.
Another LE&W branch was a line that extended from Fort Wayne, through Muncie to Connersville. At New Castle a line split off to Rushville. This trackage was acquired by the LE&W in 1890.
In 1895, the LE&W leased the Northern Ohio, a line that extended from Akron to Delphos, Ohio. This line, which eventually became the Akron, Canton & Youngstown, was omitted from the LE&W/NKP consolidation, but the Northern Ohio's debts nearly bankrupted the Nickel Plate during the 1930's.
The Lake Erie & Western, itself, became part of the New York Central System in 1900. The LE&W was operated as a separate entity throughout its association, never integrated into NYC operation. After the Van Sweringens acquired the Nickel Plate, the New York Central sought to unload the LE&W, so the Nickel Plate and the LE&W were finally united.
The Lake Erie & Western Railroad gave the Nickel Plate another gateway -- Peoria. The Fostoria to Frankfort portion became a vital link in the latter day freight operations. The LE&W, largest of Nickel Plate's four components, became to Nickel Plate what it had never been to New York Central -- an integral part of a well run railroad.
Sandusky, OH to Frankfort, IN
St. Marys, OH to Minster, OH
Frankfort, IN to Peoria, IL
Indianapolis, IN to Michigan City, IN
New Castle Division
Fort Wayne, IN to Connersville
New Castle, IN to Rushville, IN