Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society Open House 2014
It’s an annual thing for both the Historical Society and our family. On Saturday, the 16th of August, we headed out to New Haven to attend the open house. The exhibits really have not change too much over the last few years, I believe the former Norfolk and Southern (nee Norfolk and Western, nee NKP) SD9 was the last major piece of equipment the Historical Society has acquired. What has changed is the level of organization displayed by the volunteers who make all of this happen. The overall feel was much more open this year and there was plenty of space for the throngs of people who make the journey to see NKP Berkshire 765 up close.
Speaking of NKP 765, this massive “mainline steam” locomotive is always the star of the show and if you want photos of it without countless strangers in view, you had better get to the society’s shops well before the open house begins at 10 am.
Inside the shop, Lake Erie & Fort Wayne #1 (leased from the Wabash) is undergoing evaluation and cosmetic restoration. This locomotive was built in 1906 for the Wabash for whom it operated until 1954 when it was leased to the Lake Erie & Fort Wayne, it was among the last Wabash steam locomotives in operation. This locomotive was finally retired in 1957.
The caboose train is always a very popular attraction, with a surplus of anxious riders backed up for quite a distance waiting their turn. Smart timing can result in a ride in the cupola of NKP caboose #141. Fortunately, this year, we got there early enough to be on the first ride of the day, which meant that there was no competition for the cupola and I was able to secure the best seat in the house for both the outbound and return trip. My two oldest children sat opposite me on alternating portions of the trip and they had a blast.
NKP #141 is pretty much fully restored, the cupola is very nicely done. Seat belts would be a nice touch on a fast freight being pulled at 70 mph, or more, by one of the massive Berkshires. At the slow pace of the caboose train I wasn’t worried.
Looking out to the rear of the caboose train over to top of NKP bay window caboose #451, a marker lamp is visible in the upper right of the photo. Some of the Historical Society’s equipment gets moved out to these sidings for the open house and storage.
A parting shot of the caboose train, on a return trip, as it crosses a gravel grade crossing on the Historical Society’s property. When operating the caboose trains the Historical Society must function as a railroad so on these shoving moves crew members must be posted on what is now the front of the train and the horn must be blown on approach to the crossing. These volunteers do a great job and put on one heck of an event.
If you are interested in more information about the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society please visit their website, http://fortwaynerailroad.org/
Remember, they are open most Saturdays and Sunday from 10am – 4pm. If you visit during a non-open house you will get a better idea of their day to day work and see some of their restoration projects up close.