Northern Pacific touch graces southern Indiana tourist line

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Sporting a fresh coat of NP-inspired paint, French Lick Scenic Railroad GP9 No. 465 waits patiently for departure as passengers board a regular excursion bound for Cuzco, Ind.
David Rohdenburg
FRENCH LICK, Ind. — Southern Indiana’s French Lick Scenic Railway has debuted new motive power that will be put on a new service later this year.

The railroad acquired GP9 No. 465 from the Hoosier Southern Railroad. No. 465 was originally built in February 1959 for Southern Pacific subsidiary Texas & New Orleans as No. 454. After its arrival, the engine was prepped by railroad employees, and a crew from Crossroads Railcar out of Stearns, Ky., painted the locomotive into a two-tone green paint scheme inspired by Northern Pacific’s 1950s North Coast Limited streamliners.

Crossroads Railcar has also rebuilt former Ringling Brothers Circus Train car No. 41310 into dining / first class car RPCX No. 1710, which was painted into NP colors. French Lick Scenic business car No. 500 Indianapolis, an observation car of Seaboard Coast Line ancestry, was also repainted into the new NP-themed scheme. This car was owned by French Lick Scenic Vice President David McClure, who passed away in April 2019 and who donated the car to the railway. These cars joined former NP Dome Car Homestake Pass, which the railroad acquired from Pax Rail in full classic NP dress. Along with No. 465, this makes for a three-car matched NP-themed train set.

General Manager Rick Olsen says the railroad will begin offering regular excursions and dinner trains between French Lick, Ind., and Jasper, Ind., later this year. Most French Lick Scenic Railroad excursions currently only travel between French Lick and the railroad’s Gradman Station in Cuzco, as well as Spirit of Jasper dinner train, which operates a few miles east out of Jasper using French Lick crews and a locomotive owned by the City of Jasper. Regular excursions to Cuzco and the Spirit of Jasper will continue to operate, supplemented by the new excursion train set. While there is not a set date for the first of these new excursions, they are expected to begin running by fall. So, if you’re a Northern Pacific fan, or just a fan of classic Geeps, you might consider a trip to Southern Indiana later this year.

You can find out more about the French Lick Scenic Railway at
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