News release from the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society:
Historic Fort Wayne train to operate in Northern Indiana
Steam locomotive no. 765 will bring passengers to Three Rivers Festival!
(April 14, 2014) – Following a record-breaking year, the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society, in partnership with Norfolk Southern Corp, will operate historic steam locomotive no. 765 on a series of public and private passenger train excursions through Northern Indiana this summer.
The summer schedule includes two round-trip excursions aboard the Detroit Arrow, operating between Detroit and Fort Wayne. Passengers will travel to Fort Wayne on July 12th and 13th and enjoy a four hour layover at Fort Wayne’s Three Rivers Festival. Tickets for the Detroit Arrow go on sale April 16th and include seating accommodations in coach, deluxe coach, first class, and dome class passenger cars.
As part of Norfolk Southern’s 21st Century Steam program, no. 765 will also operate employee appreciation trains between Calumet City and Argos, Indiana with The Nickel Plate Limited, between Elkhart, Indiana and Bryan, Ohio with The Commodore Vanderbilt in May, and the Mercury Express between Detroit and Toledo, Ohio in June.
Each trip will carry the name of a historical passenger train that operated over the present day route. Towns along the route of the Commodore Vanderbilt include Goshen, Ligonier, Kendallville, Waterloo, and Butler, Indiana. The Detroit Arrow will operate through Milan and Adrian, Michigan, as well as Montpelier, Ohio, and through Butler and Grabill Indiana.
Last year, each trip behind the 765 sold out, with its last excursion out of Fort Wayne selling out in less than 2 hours, entertaining passengers, enthusiasts, and tourists from the tri-state region and from around the world.
In 2013, the railroad historical society published a smartphone app that allows members of the public to track the train via GPS and social media. In 2014, the society will release a full-length documentary Listen for the Whistle, which showcases the work of its all volunteer workforce as it works to preserve and make railroad history.
In addition, a riverfront attraction project featuring no. 765 and the operations and collection of the railroad historical society are under consideration as part of the City of Fort Wayne’s Riverfront District Study. Described as a “big, bold, and transformational” project by the city’s task force, the concept would create a mixed-use rail yard park destination near downtown Fort Wayne.
The railroad historical society will announce additional operations featuring no. 765 in May. A fall schedule will be announced at a later date.
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.