The Nickel Plate Road (properly the New York, Chicago & St. Louis) owned eight Hudson type engines. They were delivered in two groups; class L-1a came from American Locomotive Company in 1927 and class L-1b from Lima Locomotive Works in 1929. They were among the lightest of their type in North America. The "elephant ear" smoke lifters, seen here on No. 174 of class L-1b, were a later addition that gave the locomotives an appearance of greater size. Consult the commentary on No. 177 for the dimensions of these Nickel Plate 4-6-4s.

After being displaced by ALCo PA diesels on the Nickel Plate's long-distance passenger trains the Hudsons continued, for a time, to handle them between Chicago's LaSalle Street Station and the diesel servicing facility, and they also worked occasionally in freight service. One of these Hudsons can be seen in both capacities in John Szwajkart's video The Chicago Collection. Robert Leffingwell captured No. 174 on a transparency at Englewood Station, Chicago, in the mid-1950s with a passenger train — probably not one of the Nickel Plate's scheduled trains but a railfan special, judging by the lack of head-end equipment (baggage and express cars).