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October 20, 2021

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Screaming steam through Bluffton

Paul Diller snapped this photo and then very quickly stepped aside as this giant Lima-built Berkshire steam locomotive barrelled toward him at about 65 miles per hour.

We can only guess what the engineer and fireman thought as they approached a photographer, standing in the middle of the rails.

Coming from Bellevue, it was westbound to Lima, and onto Muncie, Indiana, and headed perhaps as far west at St. Louis.

There's lots to see in this photo taken south of the railroad bridge over Riley Creek near Harmon Field. The photo was taken in the mid-1950s, as the Nickel Plate Road was the last major U.S. railroad to use steam locomotives.

• Sidetrack on the left (west side), that led all the way cross College Avenue to the depot. The depot is now relocated to Buckeye park.

• Sidetrack on the right (east side), that became two sidetracks. One extended across College Avenue all the way to Cherry Street. A freight house is slightly visible. And, there are freight cars on that siding.

The second sidetrack led to a cement factory, now the location of Universal U Store It.

(Photo from the collection of Jim Diller)