News release from the Fort Wayne Historical Railroad Society:
Area tourist attraction begins excursion season
(May 10, 2011) – Recognized as a national historic landmark in 2000, Fort Wayne steam locomotive no. 765 will begin its 2011 passenger train excursion season during National Historic Preservation Month. No. 765 operates in recreational train and public exhibition service throughout the midwest, bringing to life the dramatic history and culture of Fort Wayne to thousands every year.
[li]The 765 will operate May 28th, 29th, and 30th, pull the Mint Festival Flyer June 18th and 19th, and haul the Independence Limited on July 2nd at North Judson, Indiana’s Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum. Passengers will experience a 2 hour, 20 mile roundtrip though the Indiana countryside in a variety of first class and coach seating accommodations. Tickets can be ordered online at .[/li]
[li]On July 21st-24th, the 765 will appear at Train Festival 2011, America’s largest celebration of railroading, in Rock Island, Illinois and operate an all day and two hour long trip excursions. Tickets can be ordered online at .[/li]
[li]On August 26th-28th, the 765 will return home for public display in New Haven, Indiana during the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society’s Open House before heading out on a series of fall color trips through central Michigan.[/li]
Trips at North Judson will operate on a historic rail line that was preserved by a $1.5 million dollar Transportation Enhancement Act grant in 2004, enabling the town of North Judson to utilize the line for passenger and freight operations, promoting area economic development.
Restored in 1979 after being removed from Fort Wayne’s Lawton Park by the Fort WayneÂ Railroad Historical Society, the 765 has operated over 52,000 miles in excursion andÂ passenger exhibition service, hauled well over a quarter million passengers, andÂ experiences 900-3,000 visitors daily during its operations.
Following a massive rebuilding partially underwritten by a TEA grant in 2001,Â the overhaul renewed the 1944-built 765 into the living time machine and sensoryÂ experience it is today, making it the largest steam locomotive operating east of theÂ Mississippi. A crew of 30 volunteers from Indiana, Ohio, Michigan and as far as WestÂ Virginia and Wisconsin maintain and operate the 765.
BACKGROUND AND LOCAL RELEVANCE
Steam locomotive no. 765 was built for the Nickel Plate Road in 1944 and operated trainsÂ between Chicago and Fort Wayne, Indiana until 1958. In 1960, it was selected for displayÂ in Lawton Park as a “monument to a great era of development in our country – the age ofÂ steam” and in recognition for the massive “Elevate the Nickel Plate Project” whichÂ removed a dozen grade crossings from downtown Fort Wayne and spurred cityÂ development north of the St. Mary’s river in the post war era.
Removed from the park in 1974, no. 765 was restored to operating condition through anÂ all-volunteer effort and returned to service in Â 1979. After an involved 22 years ofÂ operating through sixteen years, the locomotive was completely rebuilt in an intense, fiveÂ year effort that cost $750,000 and exhausted 15,000 volunteer hours.
No. 765 is the centerpiece to a popular downtown redevelopment plan called HeadwatersÂ Junction, a conceptual effort to create a Â cultural, recreational, and educational venueÂ within a distinctive and romantic regional attraction on the North River property in FortÂ Wayne. Headwaters Junction has been endorsed by the Downtown ImprovementÂ District, Fort Wayne Chamber of Commerce, Fort Wayne Trails, Friends of the Rivers,Â Wells Street Corridor, Bloomingdale, Nebraska and Northside Neighborhoods, and manyÂ other civic organizations.
For more information: