Nickel Plate Trail

Howard, Miami, Fulton

 06 - 2015
After the one and half mile extension nortward inside Rochester, which offers a confortable parking at the new trailhead at Wabash Avenue, the Nickel Plate now goes from Cassville, soutward about two miles to Kokomo. With this new addition is possible to ride continuosly about 40 miles from Kokomo to Rochester

The Nickel Plate trail is the 37 mile railtrail corridor running from Cassville in Howard County to Rochester in Fulton County. Nickel Plate Trail, Inc. is purchasing this corridor from the Indiana Trails Fund (which acquired it from the Norfolk Southern Railroad) via the Federal Railbanking program for the purpose of developing a trail for hiking, bicycling, and other non-motorized recreational uses. The trail currently goes through the communities of Bennetts Switch, Miami, Bunker Hill, Peru, Denver, Deedsville, Burmingham, and Macy.

With 16 miles of the trail currently paved from the southwest side of Peru southward to the northside of Kokomo (Cassville) and with another 20 miles asphalted from the northside of Peru northward to the southside of Rochester, the Nickel Plate Trail is ideal for walking, hiking, running, bicycling, skating, or even cross country skiing. Overall it is comfortably wide, smooth, and maintains an almost unnoticeable grade. Paved in some areas, there is a good mixture of open and shaded trail.

The trail follows what was once the Nickel Plate Railroad, running alongside and in places crossing over, Little Pipe Creek. The landscape surrounding the trail not only looks beautiful, but has the unmistakable fresh smell of the Indiana countryside. No matter how many times you visit the trail, there is always something new for you to find.

As you explore the woodlands and wetlands you can see a wide variety of plant and animal life. Of interest is Scout Bridge, which crosses Little Pipe Creek, and an old dam with some historical interest, both of which are just south of the Peru trailhead. South of Bunker Hill and to the east of the trail are some of the remains of the Union Traction railway, the electric interurban line that was dismantled around 1940.

Well cared for, the Nickel Plate Trail is one of the nicest-looking trails in the midwest. The amazing sights, sounds and scents the trail provides make it much more than just a great place to visit. It's an experience.

Nickel Plate History
1.Peru & Indianapolis railroad 1853-1864
   (Operated by Madison & Indianapolis RR until 1856).
            a. charted Jan 19, 1846
            b. financed almost entirely by local tax money
            c. construction of railroad begun 1849
            d. fully completed to Peru 1854
            e. Peru&Indy line suffered financially and reorganized as Peru, Indianapolis & Chicagorailroad in 1864 by Francis Cutting, Volney Malott, David Macy (for whom the town of Macy was named) and other bond holders. 
            d. Reorganized March 11, 1864 as I. P. & C
2. I.P.&C (Indianapolis Peru,& Chicago) railroad 1864-1881
            a. I.P.&C descendent of Peru & Indy line
            b. Train service began in Rochester, IN 1869
            c. I.P.&C leased the line to Wabash, St. Louis& Pacific in 1881. The contract ended in 1887 due to the collapse of Wabash, St. Louis& Pacific. The road sold in 1887 to Lake Erie and Western. 
3. Lake Erie & Western 1887-1923
     (Established August 4th, 1879)
            a. nicknamed “Leave Early and Walk” 
4. New York, Chicago &St Louis (Nickel Plate Road) 1923-1964
           (Operated by C&O 1933-1942)
            a. operated from 1923-1964 in this area
            b. Nickel Plate took over the lines operated by Lake Erie and Western and would continue service until it merged with Norfolk & Western on October 16th 1964.
            c. How did this railroad get the nickname Nickel Plate? 
            d. ANSWER!  “during March 1881, at the height of the Bellevue-Norwalk competition, the Norwalk Chronicle several times referred to the road as ‘”the great New York and St. Louis double-track nickel plated railroad.’”Before a rail had been laid the company adopted the nickname.” From that time on the New York, Chicago, and St. Louiswould forever be known as the Nickel Plate Road.
5. Norfolk & Western 1964-1982
     Preface: William Mahone gained notoriety during Civil War for his unorthodox tactics on battlefield. 
      He became president of three different railroads at the same time. One railroad was the Atlantic, Mississippi,    and Ohio (AM&O). His detractors nicknamed it “all mine and Otelia, Otelia his wife. In 1881 AM&O went up for auction and renamed Norfolk and Western.
In 1964 Norfolk and Western bought out the Nickel Plate and the Wabash RRs.  
In 1982 the Norfolk and Western railway merged with the Southern railroad to form the Norfolk Southern Railroad.
6. Norfolk & Southern railroad 1982-present 
    a. operates through Peru and Plymouth because the Norfolk Southern runs through Peru on the former Wabash line                   and runs through Plymouth on the former Nickel Plate main line.
            b. due to the creation of by pass 31, lack of money and goods from smaller towns, and money to maintain a line that                   wasn’t getting much use the track was pulled up in the late 1990s. 
7. Nickel Plate Trail
            a. In 1994 Norfolk Southern submitted the line to the Interstate Commerce Commission to be withdrawn from federal regulation.
            b. The Indiana Trails Fund began negotiations to preserve the line for a trail, in 1994.
            c. In 1996 the Interstate Commerce Commission became the Surface Transportation Board.
            d. In early 1999 ITF acquired the line, preserving Interstate Commerce authority over the corridor from Cassville to Peru, and from Peru to Rochester.   
            e. In 2002 Nickel Plate Trail, Inc. organized to manage, entrail, and own the corridor.
            f. In 2009 STB approved transfer a federal authority from ITF to NPT. NPT paved 12 of the 14 miles from Peru to Cassville
            g. In 2010 NPT completed surfacing from Rochester-Peru, IN.  
Note, Quote taken from Nickel Plate Story by John Rehor  page 19 dated 1965.
“General Mahone, after several years of strenuously effort, got the Virginia General Assembly to pass and act on June 17 1870 for merging and consolidating the Norfolk and Petersburg railroad company, the south side railroad company, and the Virginia and Tennessee railroad company into a single line, and forming it into the Atlantic, Mississippi and Ohio railroad. The merging of these three roads, giving a through line from the Seaboard at Norfolk to Bristol, …” 
From History of Tazewell County and Southwest Virginia
Type of Trail: 
Rail trail
Part NOT open: 
1 mile
Total Length of all segments: 
Uses allowed: 
walk, hike, bike, run, skating, Xcross county skiing
Wheelchairs allowed: 
Which uses NOT allowed: 
Horse, motor vehicles
Attractive Features: 
Old RR, water dam, old interurban right of way, rural scenery, small towns, rivers and streams
North Endpoint – General: 
North Endpoint (#1) - Specific : 
Wabash Street north of US 31
South Endpoint – General: 
South Endpoint (#2) – Specific: 
CR550N, Howard Co
Direction to #2 from #1: 
Notable Trailhead: 
Cassville, Bunker Hill, Denver
Near to US highways: 
The Nickel Plate trail parallels US 31 from Cassville, on the North side of Howard County and Kokomo, northward through Miami County and into Fulton County. As such the trail goes through many small towns which are accessible from crossroads which run eastward from US 31. For example Miami County Road 1000 North runs to Deedsville. State Route 16 links to Denver. State Route 218 joins to Bunker Hill. State Route 18 intersects Bennetts Switch. Connections at Peru, Birmingham, Cassville, and Rochester, all exist, but are indirect, parking areas being away from the trail.
Major Trailhead: 
Wallick Road, Bennetts Switch
Agency, Group Owned: 
Nickel Plate Trail, Inc.
Mike Kuepper
PO Box 875 Peru IND 46970
Trail Website: 

Birmingham Prairie Land Along the Nickel Plate


Dr. Musselman shares his experience in discovering and protecting a remnants of prairie grass on the land that it will become the Nickel Plate Trail, in Birmingham (Miami County, IN)


During the process of preserving remnants of prairie in Birmingham, Miami County, Dr. Musselman has built a backup prairie in his own property. Here you can listen and see the story and what he achieved.


Nickel Plate Grand Opening Oct. 02 2010


Last week Oct 2, 2010, there has been the grand opening of the north section of the Nickel Plate trail. A big achievement for the small communities of Denver, Deedsville, Birmingham, Macy, and Rochester.

Time Length: 
10.07 minutes.
Denver, Deedsville, Birmingham, Macy, and Rochester - Miami and Fulton Counties - Indiana.

2010 / 10

Opening Bridge for the Nickel Plate Trail in Peru Indiana


Cole Porter Classic fundraising for the Nickel Plate Trail and the opening ceremony of the pedestrian bridge over the Wabash River in Peru.

Time Length: 
minutes 10:38
Peru Indiana

2011 - 10 - 01

Trail Worker 2015 - Mike Kuepper

 This is a very exciting time for the Nickel Plate Trail.

Mike Kuepper, president of Nickel Plate Trail, Inc. was proclaimed the 2015 Trail Worker by American Trails on May 19, 2015. A national recognition of the effort and achievement of this man on building one of the most prominent trails in Indiana.

This award comes in time to celebrate a very astounding accomplishment; the connection long strived for, to get the trail into Kokomo. The two mile extension south of Cassville allows the Nickel Plate Trail to burst into the largest town the trail crosses through its length. This changes the identity of this trail from a rural connector of very small communities to a major alternative transportation link in central Indiana, connecting Kokomo directly to Rochester.

Amazingly, this success looks much more like a promise of much more to come rather than the completion of a single trail.

Kokomo is working hard to connect the Nickel Plate Trail from where it ended at US 35 north of Kokomo. The Industrial Heritage Trail implemented to the south of Kokomo is under development in downtown with a major restyling of the street landscape. The building of the asphalt trail to the north will directly connect from the south to north the entire town of Kokomo to the Nickel Plate Trail.

As every deed that gains success requires a leader; the Nickel Plate Trail’s President Mike Kuepper, with his mix of gentle manners and determinate decisions and actions, is the front man of the Friends of The Nickel Plate Trail group. The American Trail’s 2015 Trail Worker though, is not satisfied with the Nickel Plate’s achievements as a 40 mile designated American Discovery Trail that allows one to ride through the heart of Hoosier land, as well as being part of the soon-to-be designated USBR #35 Bike Route, making the Nickel Plate, connected in central Indiana from east to west, and north to south, the core for wide rides through our state.

Mike Kuepper has already started land acquisition for the future project of connecting the Nickel Plate Trail with the Cardinal Greenway, now ending in Sweetser, Indiana. With this project, another major work is underway to become the next major achievement for this man.

Thanks Mike for your passion and dedication and for all that you are giving to our community.


Watch Mike Kuepper talking about the Nickel Plate Trail development and vision:


Twenty New Miles of Greenway Opened.

 Concluding a ten year long trail development, the northern portion of the Nickel Plate Trail opened with a ribbon cutting ceremonies with the main celebration in Denver, Indiana last Saturday, October 2 at 12:30 local time. 

Following a gloomy, cold, rainy morning framed in dark gray clouds, the Peru Circus Band began to play at about noon.  
Braving the brusque weather, the energizing band played catchy themes which quickly dispelled any insidious gloominess from the weather. Soon the clouds began to break a little as more people began gathering around the ceremonial site next to the Denver Community Building. 
The wind was not quite as heavy when a small trucked-in calliope began playing its whistling tunes.  Helmeted children and graybeards, moms and dads and various other ancestral mixes biked up and down the short stretch at the site and milled around the food tent and bike shop tents waiting for the official ceremony to start.
Following a brief introduction by Nickel Plate Trail President Mike Kuepper, Kevin Kennedy presented a brief history of the rail trail, followed by an invocation.  Brief remarks and praises for the welcomed trail and acknowledgements lead to the final band flourish and the crowd of about a hundred people just generally enjoying themselves as the wind died down and the sun’s presence grew.  Then dispersing crowd took to their cars and a number, including families with small children hopped on their bikes and began pedaling the trail. 
Several other, smaller ceremoniesstarted at the same time along the Nickel Plate corridor, at Rochester and Macy.
The newly minted section opens a twenty mile corridor from Rochester to Lover’s Lane in Peru on the north side of US 24.
This new trail segment shines every bit as a touring cyclist’s dream.  
More picturesque views would be difficult to imagine, especially in the fall. This often tree canopied, gentle trail meanders through the hills and vales of Miami, Howard and Fulton counties, immersed in the sounds and smells of the Indiana countryside.
Cycling the trail after the ceremony, the smooth asphalt made it easy for the miles to roll by under the variegated green canopy encasing the trail which opened in stretches revealing freshly harvested fields, green swales and occasional views of old farm implements, creeks and rivers.  The weather warmed up later on in the day immersing the trail in the incense of the sweet smelling rural Indiana countryside bathing it in dappled sunlight.  The engineered grading of the old railroad ballast maked the incline of the grade north to Deedsville nearly unnoticeable. 
The scenic trail takes its form from the  formerly rail banked property held in trust by the Indiana Trails Fund, which acquired the line form the Norfolk Southern Railway Company in 1999.
Trail rules allow for biking and walking/jogging, rollerblading and handicapped accessible travel, with fourth season use as a cross country ski trail.
The Nickel Plate Road Trail resumes at Wallick Road in Peru, which takes one to Cassville about 12 ½ miles later, an equally captivating ride.