This weekend steam locomotive no. 765 departs Fort Wayne on its first public trip out of the city since 1993. After a record-breaking sell out on September 1st, thousands will ride and many more will witness the train on its journey to Lafayette, Indiana during the two round-trip excursions on the 26th and 27th. The demand and overall interest in these trips will help the railroad historical society plan similar future operations.
Here are some details to catch the Cannonball this weekend, but first an important reminder:
Departure will be at 8:30AM from 6502 Nelson Road. The boarding site will only be accessible to passengers, but the new Maplecrest Extension and various overpasses on the former Wabash mainline will allow for great vantage points to view the train.
ROUTE & TRACKING
The route of the train largely parallels US 24 and State Route 25. You can not only track the train, but view the route here on your desktop computer. Smartphone users can download the dedicated iPhone app here.
While we’ve also published an Android app, there have been some inconsistencies in the data of the original app. To address this vexing issue, we’re authoring a completely new version of the app. Download the new version of the Android app for free for a limited time by clicking here.
Important to note is that sometimes the tracker may not always update every 60 seconds due to interference or cellular dead zones. We continually monitor it throughout every trip.
We have only one planned stop in Peru, Indiana each way to change crews. Different sections of the railroad system are divided into division points, with crews being qualified on particular divisions. While this is our only scheduled stop, we may stop for freight traffic or to check out something on the locomotive (sometimes we like to double check temperature read outs from the running gear and bearing boxes on the locomotive.) The train’s maximum speed will be 40MPH due to timetable restrictions on steam excursions. We like to say that these excursions — and really any movement with a steam locomotive — is running not on a schedule, but on “railroad time.” If you’re in a town along the line, keep an eye on our Twitter feed:
Join our Facebook page where we post photos and information, and where others may chime in with updates and helpful information. By typing “#nkp765″ on Facebook or Twitter you can follow what other folks are saying, i.e. “#nkp765 just went through Huntington!”
We expect arrival in Lafayette around 11:30AM or 12:00. While in Lafayette, the train will be turned and layover at the 2400 block of Schuyler Avenue. Due to space limitations and private property of nearby businesses near the wye where the train will layover, we would recommend caution and good judgement for those who wish to see the train during the layover.
We’ll be operating buses from Amtrak station downtown at 2nd street for folks who would like a ride over for $2 to help cover the cost. We’ll be busing passengers from Schuyler Avenue to 2nd Street for lunch — we can’t disembark passengers at the platform nearest the station for a variety of reasons, the most obvious being that the track our train will be on is the one furthest away from the platform, requiring passengers to walk across an active track that belongs to another railroad.
Depending on our time, we plan to begin the return trip to Fort Wayne around 2:30 or 3:00PM.
RETURN TO FORT WAYNE
The return to Fort Wayne will follow the same path, and alighting will take place back at 6502 Nelson Road, with the parking lot again only available for passengers.
Once passengers have finished disembarking, we’ll back the train to Mike Tower at Piqua Yard just west of South Anthony Boulevard. This turning maneuver will take place on Norfolk Southern property, but you’ll get a few more chances to see the locomotive and train, albeit traveling backwards. After returning to Nelson Road, the 765 will be cut off for servicing and watering inside the yard, again within Norfolk Southern property but likely visible from the street. This process could take up to 2-3 hours, and the engine will likely return to the train around 9 or 10PM. It will be a long day for our volunteers and car hosts, who at this time will also be servicing the train — cleaning up each of the 15 passenger cars! Food for the next day’s travel will arrive early the next morning, the locomotive will tie back onto the train, and the process will start all over again.
WHEN YOU LISTEN FOR THE WHISTLE
Remember, the opportunity to ride behind and enjoy the sights and sounds of the 765 are made possible by hundreds of people — railroad employees and volunteers alike. Before the 765 sets foot on its journey west, over 15,000 hours will have been spent working on the locomotive and planning these excursions year and several hundred thousand dollars invested in the locomotive and these excursion operations. If you ride with us or watch us, you’re invited to come to our restoration facility at 15808 Edgerton Road and invest your time and talent into the mission of preserving and making railroad history. It means a great deal for us to be operating out of our hometown and to remind our hometown what an incredible and powerful force that the steam locomotive is and how important our local railroad identity is to who and what our community is.