Backyard Tourist: Riding the Nickel Plate Express in Atlanta, Indiana

Take a ride on the Nickel Plate Express in Atlanta, Indiana. ad

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Slow down this holiday season, and take a cozy ride on the Nickel Plate Express. We received a complimentary ride on the train in exchange for our honest thoughts. 

Take a ride on the Nickel Plate Express in Atlanta, Indiana. ad

Taking a train ride is a bit of an iconic experience in this country. Oh the trains are still there, but in our fast paced society, you’re more likely to hop in a car or take a plane. 

One year as a small child, my family decided to take a train across the country to visit family. Normally we drove by car, but it was time to experience something else. I will always remember that ride. The swaying of the cars, and the gorgeous scenery of the country. 

When I heard that the Nickel Plate Heritage Railroad would be preserving a piece of track just 30 minutes north of Indianapolis, I knew I wanted to take my kids on their festive ride. So I reached out! 

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About the Nickel Plate Express

The train is a historic 1956 Diesel Locomotive built for the Erie Mining Company. The cars are Santa Fe Hi-Level passenger cars, originally used on the El Capitan Luxury train from Chicago to Los Angeles. This means you sit on an upper deck, and get way better views of the surrounding area then the lower floor.

Now we wouldn’t be able to call ourselves good Harry Potter fans is at least one of us didn’t wear their Hogwarts Robes for a train ride. Really now. All she’s missing is her wand. 

Harry Potter fans will love riding the Nickel Plate Express in Indiana.

While heading down the tracks, staff came around with candy, popcorn, and sticker activities. While the 30 minute ride didn’t warrant the need for these things, it made it that much more magical for my kids. 

The train ride itself I thought was nice. We slowly crawled down the tracks, and the kids got to experience that swaying motion I remembered as a kid. Their favorite part was playing with the seats, and discovering all the different things they did. Footrest: check. Leans back: check. Tray: check.

Riding a Hi-Level Passenger Car on the Nickel Plate Express. ad

At the End of the Track

We rode the fall express from the Arcadia Depot, near 105 Main Street, south to Noblesville High School. There the local FFA chapter had a fall harvest festival set up. We bowled pumpkins, did a little face painting, enjoyed some hot cocoa, and even brought home our own pumpkin.

Fall Festival at the end of the Nickel Plate Express.

After the ride was over I somehow got behind the rest of my family. This turned out to be a stroke of luck as I overheard there was an opportunity to check out the engine! So I let Mark take the kids up the road to check out the train museum, and I followed the Conductor to the engine. Climbing up into that was an experience in itself, but getting to sit in the conductors chair – just a neat experience all together. 

Check out the engine on the Nickel Plate Express. ad

While the fall excursion is past, currently the Reindeer Express is running. The train touts a look at Christmas lights along the track, and a visit with Santa for December riders. This sounds like the perfect time to hand out some “Polar Express” tickets to your kids, and read the best Christmas book with a train. 

Who is the Nickel Plate Express For?

The Nickel Plate Express is great for families. Kids will love the experience of riding on a train. 

With that being said – I probably wouldn’t recommend it to everyone. Why you ask? Well, the prices are pretty high, especially for such a short little trip. They are still new, so the experience could definitely have more interactive parts during the ride. Some local people believe it’s just a gimmick, and would rather see it become a continuation of the Monon Trail. 

So, while I thought it was a blast, I have a special love for anything historical. If my parents were going to come visit, I would suggest we go for a ride. However, if my mother-in-law were coming for a visit, I’d say this is something we would skip. 

If you have a child who loves trains – go! You will excite them, and encourage their love. 

If you enjoy getting hands on with history – go! Climbing aboard a Hi-Level and heading down the tracks will be enough to fill that love. 

If you don’t mind things being a little pricey, and somewhat gimmicky – go! You can say you’ve done it.



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