News release from the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society:
Fort Wayne landmark hired by national railroad to celebrate 30th anniversary
Local tourist attraction and national historic landmark, city steam locomotive no. 765 has been tasked by the Norfolk Southern Railway to celebrate its 30th anniversary. As part of a year long event, the railroad is operating employee appreciation specials out of major railroad terminals throughout the midwest.
Created in 1982 with the merger of the Southern Railway and Norfolk and Western Railway, Norfolk Southern operates 20,000 miles in 22 states with 28,000 employees. Locally, the railroad directly employs over 700 workers. The employee trains will operate in Missouri, Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania and the locomotive will traverse Illinois and Indiana between trips.
One of the last vintage steam locomotives operation in the world, the locomotive attracts thousands a day, experiencing visitors and passengers from all 50 states and 5 countries to experience the 765 as recently as 2011.
The locomotive is also the centerpiece to the proposed Headwaters Junction redevelopment concept to create an attraction on the North River property at 4th and Clinton Streets near downtown. The concept was recently advanced by the Legacy Fort Wayne champion team for riverfront development as being “bold and transformative” and worthy being “included in any mixed use development” at North River.
No. 765 will traverse over 4,000 miles in service of Norfolk Southern and the Society is encouraging the public to experience the locomotive in 2012 by offering a special mobile application for iPhones and Android phones and by publishing the 765’s full schedule
The 765 is owned and maintained by the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society, which is also celebrating its own 40th anniversary. What started in 1972 as a cosmetic restoration in Lawton Park turned into the first all steam restoration of its kind in the world by 1979.
A public open house on September 29th and 30th will have the engine fired up at the Society’s restoration facility in New Haven. In addition, the Society will be publishing a book on the last four decades of its operations and travels and producing a feature length
documentary about the 2012 season.
The railroad historical society is an all volunteer non-profit that operates seasonal excursion and public exhibition trains with the 765 and other regionally significant vintage railroad equipment, including the popular Santa Trains each December.
BACKGROUND AND LOCAL RELEVANCE
Steam locomotive no. 765 was built for the Nickel Plate Road in 1944 and operated trains between Chicago and Fort Wayne, Indiana until 1958. In 1960, it was selected for display in Lawton Park as a “monument to a great era of development in our country – the age of steam” and in recognition for the massive “Elevate the Nickel Plate Project” which removed a dozen grade crossings from downtown Fort Wayne and spurred city 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 an all-volunteer effort and returned to service in 1979. After an involved 22 years of operating through sixteen years, the locomotive was completely rebuilt in an intense, five year effort that cost $750,000 and exhausted 15,000 volunteer hours.
No. 765 is the centerpiece to a popular downtown redevelopment plan called Headwaters Junction, a conceptual effort to create a cultural, recreational, and educational venue within a distinctive and romantic regional attraction on the North River property in Fort Wayne. Headwaters Junction has been endorsed by the Downtown Improvement District, Fort Wayne Chamber of Commerce, Fort Wayne Trails, Friends of the Rivers, Wells Street Corridor, Bloomingdale, Nebraska and Northside Neighborhoods, and many other civic organizations.
For more information:
AroundFortWayne posts and photos:
[li]The 765 test run to Muncie Indiana[/li]
[li]The 765 south of Yoder Indiana[/li]
[li]The 765 at New Haven[/li]
[li]Kelly Lynch on the NKP 765’s successful test run to Muncie[/li]
[li]Photo Album of the NKP 765[/li]