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 train rides throughout the weekend. Admission is free, and train ride tickets are $7. Tickets are on sale now at fortwaynerailroad.org. No. 126 will arrive by semi-truck and be unloaded on Thursday, Aug. 15.
The society 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 1944. Retired in 1958, placed on display in Lawton Park in 1963 and restored by the society in 1979, No. 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-profits organizations. With its annual operations and living history events, it draws visitors from all 50 states and six countries aboard to 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,” says 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.”
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, train rides 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,” Lynch says. “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 www.cvsr.org/steam. The Society is also offering riders the chance to operate the engine during special Throttle Time sessions. Tickets for Throttle Time are available at fortwaynerailroad.org.