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Railroad attraction moves forward, society rechristens locomotive to honor city history

By Events, Headwaters Junction, News

NEW HAVEN, INDIANA – The Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society (FWRHS) made several important announcements today, revealing a major cosmetic change to historic steam locomotive no. 765 and releasing new renderings and information on its riverfront attraction project, Headwaters Junction.

“The 765 was preserved by the City of Fort Wayne to recognize how a successful railroad elevation project in the 1950s inspired a half-century’s worth of progress. Today the engine has become an international attraction and can be the centerpiece in a new era of development,” explained Kelly Lynch, Vice President.

With its planned annual programming and events  and the popularity of railroad attractions like no. 765, the project was endorsed by Legacy Fort Wayne in 2012 and recommended by SWA Group as a catalyst for the riverfront development in 2014.

Local developer Don Steininger and the railroad society have created an advisory board of community leaders and a separate non-profit organization to pursue the project. Earlier in 2016, a preliminary study demonstrated that as a stand-alone attraction, it could easily draw 120,000 additional visitors to downtown.

“Our board is excited at the possibilities that Headwaters Junction represents for future riverfront development. We are aggressively pursuing ways to make this a reality, ” said Steininger.

Newly released renderings by Design Collaborative illustrate a mixed-use interpretive facility with event space, a 1940s-inspired restaurant, Cass Street station, rail yard park, turntable and a tourist railroad line connecting the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo to downtown. The roundhouse would be located between Harrison and Wells Street.

Planned events and programming at Headwaters Junction include regular and special holiday tourist train rides, a Rail Camp for children and young adults combined with other educational programming, visits from Thomas the Tank Engine and the Polar Express, interactive displays, exhibits and visiting historic equipment and much more throughout the year.

“Right now we’ll 4,500 people in sixteen hours during our events in December, to say nothing of the thousands more that the 765 draws when it operates. We could multiply our attendance numbers by being able to host regular events, train rides and programs right along the heart of downtown,” said Lynch.


The project has been organized into three phases:
• construct a 15-24-inch gauge railroad to the zoo ($3-5 million)
• acquire land and right-of-way, construct railroad, install turntable ($3-4 million)
• construct roundhouse and interpretive facility ($8-9 million)

Headwaters Junction’s advisory board is currently preparing grant requests and additional study work for this fall. Plans, rendering and additional information can be accessed online at

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On Friday, the railroad historical society also announced a major cosmetic change to the 765. In a move to honor its unique history and the reason for its preservation, the 1944-built locomotive will be temporarily renumbered “767” – the same number it wore while on display in Lawton Park from 1963 to 1974. “767” was chosen to reflect the locomotive originally used to open the railroad elevation at the conclusion of the Elevate the Nickel Plate Campaign. Prior to donation, the Nickel Plate Road discretely changed the number on the engine because the original 767 had fallen into significant disrepair.

The renumbering, which is planned to remain for the rest of 2016, compliments other alterations made to reflect the locomotive’s appearance before it was retired in 1958. Most noticeable is the addition of an extra headlight known as a Mars Light. Developed by the Mars Signal Light Company, the Nickel Plate Road added these to many locomotive in 1951 as a way to warn motorists and pedestrians of the oncoming train.

In 2013, the FWRHS was aided by a former Nickel Plate electrician from Frankfort, Indiana to repair the Mars Light, which had been removed in 1975 and used only sparingly since. Many railroad fans and historians recall the distinctive look of the Mars Light and have requested its reappearance for years.

For more information on the 767, we’ve posted the engine’s colorful history here.

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The 765/767 will operate passenger excursion trains through the Cuyahoga Valley National Park in September. In December, the railroad historical society will host its annual Santa Train events. Ticket sales begin in November.

For more more information, visit You can volunteer or become a member here or donate to support the organization here.

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Railroad society announces 2016 Open House, Throttle Time and more

By Events, News

Friday, August 19th
Press Conference, 10:30AM. Open House, 10AM-4PM

Saturday, August 20th
Open House featuring Members Day, 10AM-4PM

Sunday, August 21st
Open House, 12PM-4PM

The Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society will host its Open House on August 19th, 20th and 21st! Our annual event features the live steam display of world-famous Nickel Plate Road steam locomotive no. 765, historic passenger car and railroad displays, train rides, WWII reenactors, local food trucks and more. For the first time in several years, visitors will also be able to purchase Throttle Time for a 30 minute experience at the controls of steam locomotive no. 765.

Admission is free and caboose rides are $4.00. Caboose rides depart approximately every 20 minutes and tickets are purchased on-site and available all weekend. Hours of operation are 10am to 4pm Friday and Saturday and 12PM-4PM Sunday.

Throttle Time will be held Friday from 4:30PM-8:30PM and Sunday from 9AM-11:30PM.  UPDATE: Throttle Time tickets have sold out! Stay tuned for updates on future Throttle Time opportunities. Caboose ride tickets will be available for purchase on location!

The event will kick off with a special press conference at 10:30 on Friday, August 19th with Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry. The railroad historical society is also hosting its first ever Member Appreciation Day on August 20th where over 200 members will enjoy behind-the-scenes access to the 765, night photo session and additional amenities.

A full schedule of events and excursions is available online.

2015 Santa Train

By Events, News

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Click the button to be notified if additional trips are added!

Santa Claus and his train return to the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society this December!

Climb aboard a heated, vintage caboose for a 20-minute train ride with Santa. Enjoy food from Bravas, live entertainment and explore the world-famous Nickel Plate Road no. 765.

The trains are operated by a 1950s diesel locomotive. Trains run continuously all three Saturdays and depart three times each hour.

Santa Train
December 5th, 12th, 19th
15-20 minute rides with Santa
$4 (children 4-12) $5 (adults)
Children 3 and under free.

Santa Charters
December 6th, 13th, 20th
45 minute trips for families and groups of up to 15 people.

Seating is extremely limited and walk-in availability cannot be guaranteed.

For the fourth year in a row, Santa Charters for families and large groups can be reserved on Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoons at select times.

All trains depart the railroad historical society’s restoration facility at 15808 Edgerton Road, New Haven, 46774.


Please wear sturdy, comfortable shoes – do not wear flip-flops, sandals, open-toed or high-heel shoes. Cars are not ADA-compliant due to their historic nature, however most passengers with limited mobility can be accommodated with advance planning. Please contact us with questions.

These operations take place at a working railroad facility. Please be mindful of your safety and the safety of your guests. Watch your step, be mindful of moving railroad equipment, uneven surfaces or bad footing, do not walk on the railhead and obey instructions from train crew at all times.

Your presence and participation indicates that you accept the limits of liability from inherent risks of all activities and operations. We reserve the right to substitute motive power or rolling stock as necessary. Train rides may be subject to mechanical delays, which are nevertheless uncommon. Your ticket is redeemable for a trip with Santa and does not necessarily guarantee a trip on a moving train, but does guarantee a visit with Santa aboard a train if the train is momentarily out-of-service due to mechanical delays.

Your support and participation are greatly appreciated.

Nickel Plate No. 765 to operate trips out of Steamtown National Historic Site

By Events, Excursions

SCRANTON, PENNSYLVANIA – One of the biggest steam locomotive stars in North America will roll into Scranton to celebrate RailFest 2015 and the 100th anniversary of the Nicholson Bridge, officially referred to as the Tunkhannock Creek Viaduct.

On September 5th-7th, steam locomotive No. 765 will operate trips to the Delaware Water Gap aboard a recreation of the famous Phoebe Snow, a trip to East Stroudsburg, and appear on static display for festival attendees during RailFest. The Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society anticipates having open vestibules aboard the Phoebe Snow and a special photo runby during the layover. Each trip will feature accommodations aboard vintage passenger cars from the 1920s through 1940s.

Tickets for these excursions are on sale now at

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This summer will mark the first time in history No. 765 has operated out of the Scranton area in its history. Steamtown National Historic Site maintains several former Nickel Plate Road locomotives in its collection, including Nickel Plate Road No. 759, a sister engine to the 765. The 759 resides on static display inside the Steamtown roundhouse and at one time operated limited excursions out of the region in the 1970s.

“We are really thrilled to bring a mainline steam locomotive to Steamtown and work with the National Park Service, Norfolk Southern, and the various groups collaborating to make these experience for our passengers,” said Bill Otter, Society president.