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2019 Open House to feature guest locomotive, preview of downtown attraction

By | Uncategorized

Event’s popularity offers preview proposed downtown attraction

NEW HAVEN, INDIANA – The historic, operating tourist attractions of the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society (FWRHS) will be on display at the Society’s 2019 Open House, which will feature educational displays, train rides, food trucks and more on August 16th, 17th and 18th.

Visiting Fort Wayne for the first time will be the Lehigh Valley Coal no. 126, a restored steam locomotive originally built in 1935. It will pull the Open House’s train rides throughout the weekend. Admission is free and train ride tickets are $7. The 126 will arrive by semi-truck and unloaded on Thursday, August 15th.

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The FWRHS will also recognize the forthcoming 75th anniversary of its world-renown steam locomotive, Nickel Plate Road no. 765, which was built by the Lima Locomotive Works in September of 1944. Retired in 1958, placed on display in Lawton Park in 1963 and restored by the Society in 1979, the 765 has become a landmark tourist attraction operating special excursion trains throughout the country.

Founded in 1972, the Society is dedicated to preserving and operating Northeast Indiana’s rich railroad origins and has risen to become one of the pre-eminent rail tourist non-profit organizations and. With its annual operations and living history events, it draws visitors from all 50 states and six countries aboard its vintage trains and programs. Last year’s Open House drew over 6,000 people from around the region.

“Our Annual Open House is a great opportunity to get up-close and personal with our region’s colorful railroad history,” explained Kelly Lynch, Vice-President of the Society. “Events like these highlight the draw of our attractions and operations and showcase why our plans to become a part of riverfront development in Fort Wayne will have a meaningful impact on our city,” stated Lynch.

Headwaters Junction, the Society’s robust plan to create a regional destination near the Fort Wayne riverfront, has a purchase agreement for 9 acres of railroad right-of-way for their operations and events. After being included in the city’s conceptual riverfront plan and roundly endorsed by the community, studies have shown the attraction would bring an estimated

140,000 visitors to downtown Fort Wayne throughout the year. While the project’s final location has yet-to-be-determined, its educational, immersive setting will be complemented by annual events, programs and hands-on activities, and train rides. Earlier this year, Headwaters Junction entered into a purchase agreement with Norfolk Southern for 9 acres of railroad right-of-way along the riverfront. For more information, visit headwatersjunction.org.

and operations. For more information, visit headwatersjunction.org.

“As shown by our popular events and trips, we are a successful business excited to expand into our namesake city. Railroad tourism is a billion-dollar industry that contributes greatly to our history, culture and economic development,” stated Lynch. “This project will be an anchor attraction and exciting community gathering space for Fort Wayne.”

Historic steam locomotive no. 765 will operate special excursion trains this September at the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad and tickets are on sale at cvsr.org/steam. The Society is also offering riders the chance to operate the engine during special Throttle Time sessions. Click here for more details and tickets for Throttle Time.

Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society to partner with revived New River Train

By | Uncategorized

Rail Excursion Management Co. announces their inaugural Autumn Colors Express railroad excursion this October from Huntington to Hinton, WV along the famed New River route; Fort Wayne group to provide experienced car hosts and administrative support

The Rail Excursion Management Co., a national leader in railroad excursions and charters, today announce their inaugural 2019

Autumn Colors Express​ on October 25, 26 and 27, 2019. The ​Autumn Colors Express​ continues the 50+ year tradition of transporting passengers in vintage railroad equipment to Hinton’s Railroad Days Festival, held the same weekend. There will be three days of train excursions, originating in downtown Huntington, WV. Tickets can be purchased online at autumncolorexpresswv.com​.

The ​Autumn Colors Express​ consist will be comprised of 25-30 privately-owned vintage railcars, with meal service provided on board to every passenger, as part of their ticket price. The round-trip train ride will feature on-board entertainment and historic narration. Lunch is available from the many food vendors in Hinton. The train will lay over in Hinton for approximately three hours while guests enjoy the Hinton Railroad Days Festival.

Railexco is also proud to announce that it is partnering with two renowned rail preservation groups, the Kentucky Steam Heritage Corp. of Ravenna, KY, as well as the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society of Fort Wayne, Indiana. Both groups will lend their expertise to the ​Autumn Colors Express ​through their on-train volunteer programs, and vast logistical experience.

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) “I applaud Adam Auxier and Rail Excursion Management Co. on their decision to continue the 50 year tradition of the New River train and the Railroad Days festival in October. The trip from Huntington to Hinton in the fall truly showcases the beauty of West Virginia and brings joy and revenue to our state,” said Senator Manchin. “I look forward to a long partnership with Rail Excursion Management Co. on their Autumn Colors Express venture and pledge my support to help them however I can.”

Hinton City Manager Cris Meadows: “The return of the train this fall means so much to the city of Hinton and its residents. The annual Railroad Days festival has brought thousands of people to our town over the years; our local nonprofits operate food and vending tents that in turn provide scholarships to so many of our local students. We’re overjoyed that this tradition can keep going year after year.”

Railexco CEO Adam Auxier: “We are very excited to showcase the beautiful New River Gorge in its fall colors to our passengers. I hope they enjoy their journey on these lovingly preserved railcars on their trip to Hinton.”

KSHCO President Chris Campbell: “The Kentucky Steam Heritage Corporation is keenly aware of the economic benefit that rail-based tourism can provide our region, and we are proud to support our neighbors in West Virginia by providing logistics help and on-train personnel for the Autumn Color Express excursion. Our organization is pleased to be a non-profit partner in this exciting excursion event which aligns with our mission to champion the beauty and benefits of Appalachia.”

FWRHS Vice President Kelly Lynch: ​“For nearly a decade, the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society was a part of what made the rail tourism experience in the New River Gorge so popular and after a 25 year absence, we’re excited to return as part of this important tradition as a nonprofit partner.​ ​Our commitment to creating engaging and educational railroad experiences will be reflected through the participation of our car hosts and administrative personnel and we thank ACE for offering its support for our own tourist rail operations in 2019.”

Rail Excursion Management Co.’s ​staff have a combined decades of experience working in rail excursions, private railcar logistics, and rail charters. For more information, please contact Chief Marketing Officer Lou Capwell at 812-320-3596 or ​lou@railexco.com.

Crown Battery helps power locomotive restoration project

By | Project 358

Vintage locomotive will be used as teaching tool, mobile classroom

NEW HAVEN, INDIANA – The Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society (FWRHS) is pleased to announce that Crown Battery Systems of Fort Wayne, Indiana has become a corporate sponsor and donor to the Project 358, the restoration of a vintage diesel locomotive originally built for the Nickel Plate Road in 1957. Crown Battery’s donation includes batteries and critical electrical components needed to finish the rebuild. Read More

Headwaters Junction secures purchase agreement for riverfront right-of-way

By | Headwaters Junction

FORT WAYNE, INDIANA – Non-profit organization and potential riverfront developer Headwaters Junction, Inc. has finalized a purchase agreement with railroad company Norfolk Southern Corp for one mile of historic railroad right-of-way along Fort Wayne’s growing riverfront district. Unoccupied since 2006, plans call for the right-of-way to be utilized for the proposed attraction’s tourist train operations and connect the riverfront to other area attractions. The line was originally built in the 1860’s. Read More

Santa Train’s appeal only picks up steam

By | Santa Train

From today’s Journal Gazette:

Kelly Lynch has seen thousands of children walk into Santa’s workshop, the last stop before boarding the Santa Train. The vice president of the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society estimated that nine in 10 kids react the same way: “They say, ‘Wow!’”

And that’s even before meeting the guy in red.

This marks the 17th year the volunteer organization has welcomed families to the countryside east of New Haven to meet Santa Claus, share their wish lists and pose for photos during a short train trip.

About 6,000 people made the journey this year over three weekends, Lynch said. Today is the last day for the event, which has been sold out for weeks. Read More