Parking and boarding for the train is at 6502 Nelson Rd.
Tickets are $99 for kids 4-15 in standard coach; $119 for adults in standard coach; $149 for deluxe coach; $249 for first class; and $349 for dome class.
Tickets for the excursions go on sale at 6 p.m. today and will be available for purchase online at www.fortwaynerailroad.org and over the phone by calling 1-888-718-4253.It's not a secret that tickets for this limited-seating event sell fast, but Kelly Lynch, communications director for the society, has tips for folks hungry for a ticket.
Lynch said the first round of tickets goes to Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society members. Although there's a limit of two per member, there's also a 10 percent discount. Membership is $30 for general, $60 for sustaining member, $100 for family and $765 for corporate.
The FWRHS boasts a membership of just less than 1,000 supporters and 100 full- and part-time volunteers from around the country.
If membership is not an option, Lynch said make sure to be ready by the computer or phone at 6 p.m. when the tickets go on sale.
“We think that this year the trains may sell at a more reasonable rate. There's a lot of pent-up demand because the seating capacity is comparable to previous years, but it's really in our hearts and minds to get everybody who would like to an opportunity to ride the train. If they can't ride it, they will still be able to see it and follow it, which is why we have the GPS app on the map on the website. There's really no reason why somebody, if they're interested, should miss out on the opportunity,” Lynch said.
Even without a ticket aboard, there will be plenty of places to see the train as it chugs through the south side of downtown Fort Wayne and then roughly follows Jefferson Boulevard/U.S. 24 west out of town and through Huntington, Wabash, Peru and Logansport before turning south along U.S. 25 to Lafayette.The service is thanks to a partnership with Norfolk Southern's 21st Century Steam Program, which also includes several other round-trip excursions from Youngstown, Ohio, and Buffalo, N.Y., as well as Allentown and Scranton, Penn. At this point, there are no overnight trips.
“The engine has probably one of its busier years in the last decade or two planned for it. Some of those places it's been to before, but other places where it's never been before. There's are a lot of really great milestones, figuratively and literally, to be covered this year. This is kind of like a reunion tour, so to speak, because the engine went on some very popular and very memorable trips,” Lynch said.
Built in 1944 at the Lima Locomotive Works in Lima, Ohio, Engine No. 765 originally pulled trains between Fort Wayne and Chicago for the New York, Chicago & St. Louis Railroad, which later was known as the Nickel Plate Road.
The engine was taken out of service in 1958 and placed in 1963 as a monument in Lawton Park, according to background information provided by the railroad historical society.
Volunteers from the society received approval to remove the deteriorating engine from the park in 1974, and they restored it to operating condition in 1979. The engine went through another extensive rebuild in 2005.
The railroad historical society has used Engine No. 765 to pull excursion trains over the years, including hauling more than 7,000 Norfolk Southern railroad employees last year as part of that company's 40th anniversary celebration. For various reasons, the last excursions from Fort Wayne took place in 1993.
The rail society calls the trips the Wabash Cannonball, which was a train the Wabash Railroad operated from 1949 to 1971 between St. Louis and Detroit.Since 2012, No. 765 has led the 21st Century Steam program with great success, operating sold-out trips on numerous occasions throughout the Midwest. The society’s first public trip out of Fort Wayne in more than 20 years sold out in less than two hours. For each trip, passengers regularly travel from all 50 states and around the world to experience the historic train.
The success of the society and the popularity of railroad tourism has propelled the organization into the center of the Fort Wayne Riverfront master plan where a proposed development named Headwaters Junction will feature No. 765.
As part of Phase 1 of the riverfront plan, Headwaters Junction will feature a recreated railroad roundhouse, interpretive and events facility, and annual operations and programming. The society is currently exploring a feasibility study for the project with the city of Fort Wayne and private donors.
“For us, it's always worth it to continue to bang the drum, especially when we talk riverfront development and the Headwaters Junction project. The more people that come to understand and experience the 765 and what we offer as a tourist attraction the more Headwaters Junction makes sense and there are a number of people in the community that have heard about the train and the idea but they still don't understand it and this trip, like that others in the past, will prove the magnet effect and status. This is not a pipe dream anymore. This is a real success story that happens outside of Allen County throughout the year and this Headwaters Junction project is opportunity to bring that success story to downtown,” Lynch said.
More InformationGet the details:
What: The Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society's steam locomotive Nickel Plate Road Engine No. 765 will pull an excursion train of 15 vintage passenger cars from Fort Wayne to Lafayette and back.
When: Departs 7:30 a.m. and returns 7 p.m. Saturday, July 18 and Sunday, July 19
Where: At 6502 Nelson Road, between Fort Wayne and New Haven.
Cost: Tickets are $99 for kids 4-15 in standard coach, $119 for adults in standard coach, $149 for deluxe coach, $249 for first class and $349 for dome class. Tickets for the excursions go on sale at 6 p.m. today and will be available for purchase online at www.fortwaynerailroad.org and over the phone by calling 1-888-718-4253.
Information: Track the engine's location at http://fortwaynerailroad.org/track-765 or on Twitter at NickelPlate765.
July 18 & 19 - Fort Wayne to Lafayette
July 25 & 26 - Youngstown to Ashtabula, Ohio
August 1 & 2 - Buffalo to Corning, New York
August 8 & 9 - Allentown to Pittston, Pennsylvania
September 12 & 13 - Scranton to Nicholson, Pennsylvania
Tips for buying tickets:
- Children 4-15 and adult tickets are available; children 3-and-under who do not occupy a seat are free.
- Families and groups traveling together should purchase their ticket at the same time, under the same name.
- Tickets are assigned by car; seats are not assigned unless otherwise noted
- The Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society members eligible for 10 percent discount on standard coach; limit two per member.