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Historic Nickel Plate Railroad Locomotives to Reunite in Bellevue

By Events, News

Historic steam locomotives and train rides to be feature of late summer event

BELLEVUE, OHIO (July 20th) – The Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society and the Mad River & NKP Railroad Museum are proud to announce Berkshires in Bellevue, a special series of events from September 24th through October 3rd featuring the reunion of historic 1940’s steam locomotives no. 765 and no. 757.

“Bellevue was once home to the largest railroad terminal on the Nickel Plate Road and we’re excited to honor the history of our community by bringing these iconic machines back together,” said Chris Beamer, Mad River president. “It will be the first time since 2013 that the 765 has operated at the Museum and we’re eager to collaborate with our friends from Fort Wayne to welcome hundreds of visitors to our community.”

Featuring steam-powered caboose rides, cab rides, hands-on experiences, dinner and breakfast buffets, and an exclusive night photo session featuring the 765 and 757, this event is ideal for railroad fans and families alike. Click here to purchase tickets.

The Berkshire-type locomotive emerged as one of the most technologically advanced and popular locomotive designs in the 20th Century and is most associated with the New York, Chicago & St. Louis Railroad, commonly known as the Nickel Plate Road. The high-speed, high-horsepower Berkshires were heralded as “the engines that saved a railroad,” and were a common sight along the railroad line between Fort Wayne, Indiana, Bellevue, Ohio, and across the Nickel Plate system.

Nickel Plate Road steam locomotive no. 765 was originally placed on display in Fort Wayne, Indiana as a monument to a railroad elevation project and later restored to operation by the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society in 1972. Since then, the 765 has become one of the most popular railroad attractions of its kind in the world, welcoming passengers and visitors from all 50 states and six countries.

Out of 80 Berkshires built for the Nickel Plate, six of these engines were preserved after the railroad transitioned to diesel locomotives. After efforts to find a home for it in Bellevue did not materialize in the late 1960s. the 757 was relocated to the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania (RRMPA) in Strasburg, Pennsylvania. Thanks to the tireless advocacy of Mad River volunteers, the RRMPA agreed to transfer ownership of the 757 to Mad River in 2019. Soon after, the engine had its very own homecoming in Bellevue for permanent display where it joins over 50 pieces of railroad equipment and historic displays. Plans call for the locomotive to be cosmetically restored.

Berkshires in Bellevue Dates

BOOK YOUR TICKETS NOW

Friday, September 24th

Hostler Experience

Saturday, September 25th

Caboose Rides
Berkshire Dinner Buffet

Sunday, September 26th

Berkshire Breakfast
Caboose Rides

Friday, October 1, 2021

Hostler Experience
Night Photo Session

Saturday, October 2, 2021

Caboose Rides
FWRHS/Mad River Members Banquet
Members Night Photo Session

Sunday, October 3, 2021

Berkshire Breakfast
Caboose Rides

Berkshires in Bellevue Events & Experiences

All events take place at 253 Southwest St, Bellevue, Ohio, 44811

Caboose Rides

These 20-minute train rides will let passengers experience the sights and sounds of Nickel Plate Road steam locomotive no. 765 up close and personal from aboard a unique vantage point: inside a genuine Nickel Plate Road caboose! Bring the family and ride along like railroad crews did in the 1950s. Trains depart every 30 minutes. Tickets range from $10.00 – $25.00.

Cab Rides

Climb aboard the cab of steam locomotive no. 765 during for a 20-minute ride with the fireman and engineer. Tickets are $50.00. Space is limited.

Night Photo Session

For amateur and professional photographers alike, enjoy an extended opportunity to photograph no. 765, no. 757, and other historic railroad equipment, actors, vintage automobiles, and props in action under professionally lit scenes throughout the museum grounds in set-ups uniquely created for this event. Lighting provided by Chris Lantz Photography. Tickets are $175.00 per person. Space is limited.

Hostler Experience

Join the ranks of a mainline steam locomotive crew and help prepare the 765 for the day’s run. You’ll learn how to awaken the 765’s firebox, service the locomotive’s appliances and running gear, and enjoy exclusive, behind-the-scenes access to the 765 and its cab for an 8-hour experience. Tickets are $284.00 per person. Space is limited.

Berkshire Breakfast

Held in the newly constructed Mary Cooper Restoration building, this banquet-style breakfast will feature Nickel Plate Road no. 765 under steam and no. 757 on display inside the building. Diesel-powered caboose rides will be held for attendees. Tickets are $65.00.

Berkshire Dinner Buffet

Catered by Bone Boy’s BBQ & Catering and held in the newly constructed Mary Cooper Restoration building, this buffet-style dinner will feature Nickel Plate Road no. 765 under steam and no. 757 on display inside the building. Diesel-powered caboose rides will be held for attendees. Tickets are $75.00.

Museum Admission

Tour the Mad River & NKP Museum and explore its detailed displays, exhibits and vintage railroad equipment. Admission is $8.00 with any event or train ride ticket or $10.00 if purchased separately.

2020 Santa Train Announcement

By News

Out of concern for our patrons and volunteers  – and in consultation with old Saint Nick himself – the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society has decided not to operate its Santa Train this December. 

This decision was reached after reviewing numerous financial, logistical, and health-related concerns, and also in discussions with our rail tourism partners in Indiana. It has been made in the interest of public safety and in deference to state guidelines on public gatherings.

“The Santa Train is a family-friendly event, and the unique, cherished experience with Santa aboard our historic train is the highlight,” stated Society vice-president Kelly Lynch. 

“While we explored several alternative experiences, COVID-19’s impact on our Allen County is burdening our local health care community, and the number of cases continues to rise. Ultimately we determined that it was in the best interest of everyone to withdraw the event for the year,” Lynch said. 

The Santa Train has also become an important annual fundraiser for the organization, and its annulment represents a notable financial loss. 

Donations to offset this financial loss can be made online at fortwaynerailroad.org. Additionally, several Christmas items will be made available through the organization’s online store in December.

The Santa Train has become one of the community’s favorite traditions for over 20 years, welcoming thousands of people each season from the tri-state region. Its origins began over 70 years ago with the Pennsylvania Railroad and Wolf and Dessauer Santa Train which visited Fort Wayne each season.

City and Headwaters Junction strike deal, partnership

By Headwaters Junction, News, Uncategorized

July 13, 2020, FORT WAYNE, INDIANA – Statement from the Headwaters Junction Board of Directors regarding the Redevelopment Commission’s vote approving the City of Fort Wayne’s purchase of Headwaters Junction’s interest in the Norfolk Southern railroad right-of-way property:

“As we have from the beginning, we are proud to partner with the City as they continue their efforts to make Fort Wayne a world-class place to live, work and play. We believe this agreement with the City is the right step for Fort Wayne and its ongoing efforts to transform our riverfront into an amazing destination for residents and visitors alike.

At the same time, we are excited about what the future holds for Headwaters Junction. While its concept as a recreated rail yard, roundhouse and tourist railroad is rooted in our history, its vision looks confidently to the future. It will bring a mixed-use regional destination offering unique programs, events, connectivity and truly memorable experiences, while celebrating our city’s local culture and identity.

We are grateful to the City for its continued support of Headwaters Junction, and we look forward to working with its Community Development team to set the foundation for the City’s partnership and contribution to creating a regional destination entirely unique to Fort Wayne and Northeast Indiana.”

The City of Fort Wayne also released a statement:

“Advancing Riverfront Fort Wayne helps us continue to improve the quality of place that so many employers are looking for,” said Townsend. “I want to thank the Headwaters Junction Board of Directors for transferring the purchase agreement to the Redevelopment Commission and I look forward to working with them as they bring their vision of creating a vibrant regional destination to life.”

WANE 15 reports:

“We talked through the plans and future of the riverfront,” Redevelopment Director Nancy Townsend told the commission about her conversations with the railroad preservation group. “Headwaters Junction still has plans and will still occur.”

While Monday’s vote likely means the end of the project’s riverfront plans, WANE 15 has learned a new location in the downtown area has been discussed between Headwaters Junction and city leaders. The specific location has not yet been publicly announced.

“There’s still a lot of work to do, but we’re not doing it alone,” Headwaters Junction Executive Director Kelly Lynch said.

The Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly details the evolution of Headwaters Junction and its partnership with the City:

“Lynch, Headwaters Junction’s executive director and vice president of the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society, sees the transfer of the purchase agreement to the city as a bit of a fast track for eventual development of the $15-$20 million project, a place to transport visitors back in time. An important aspect of the project is that it’s not just going to appeal to train enthusiasts, but have recreational and tourism aspects as well, he said.

“This (transfer) really officiates the start of a more formal working partnership with the city,” Lynch said. Over the last couple of years, the city has come to understand not only the vision of the project, but also the impact on tourism, economic development and its quality-of-life benefits, he said.

“Rather than working separately on projects that are meant to benefit the community like riverfront development and Headwaters Junction, we’re finally working together,” he said.”

Steam locomotives delight crowds during open house

By News, Press Coverage

The Journal Gazette covers our 2018 Open House…

Crowds gathered as the historic steam locomotive No. 765 let out a whistle as it sat on the tracks during the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society’s open house on Saturday.

The glossy black engine, which was the first locomotive to make its way across Fort Wayne’s elevated railroads, had coals stacked high as conductors climbed aboard.

In its seventeenth year, the open house event in New Haven was expected to attract 4,000 to 5,000 visitors over the weekend.

Read More

Society welcomes special steam locomotive guest at 2018 Open House

By Events, News

The Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society will host its Open House on August 17th, 18th and 19th and steam locomotive Jeddo Coal Company no. 85, a restored tank engine.

Built in 1928 and restored by the Gramling Locomotive Works of Ashley, Indiana, the tank engine will be transported by truck to the Society’s facility and operate train rides throughout the weekend. Ticket sales begin August 1st.
Read More

Grants from Emery Rail Heritage Trust kick-off 
critical fundraising effort for Positive Train Control

By News
July 8th, 2017 – The Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society convened a meeting and solicited input from from over half a dozen mainline steam locomotive organizations and The Emery Rail Heritage Trust to address the challenge of Positive Train Control.
The Emery Rail Heritage Trust, Friends of the 261 and the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society (FWRHS) are pleased to announce $60,000 in grants to fund the development and implementation of Positive Train Control (PTC) on two historic steam locomotives: Milwaukee Road no. 261 and Nickel Plate Road no. 765. Each organization will receive $30,000 respectively to kick-start their individual fundraising efforts in order to cover the estimated $120,000 for implementation. Read More