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Railroad Historical Society Plans Riverfront Activity Center

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Lisa Ryan, WBOI News
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The renderings for Headwaters Junction were released Friday.

The Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society is currently located on a gravel road about 5 miles east of downtown New Haven. It’s difficult to find, but each year, thousands of railroad fans from all over the country visit to see a working steam locomotive. On Friday, the historical society unveiled its plan for moving to downtown Fort Wayne.

The plan, called Headwaters Junction, was released today. It includes a locomotive simulator and model railroad exhibit near the proposed riverfront promenade.

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Credit Lisa Ryan, WBOI News
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A crowd gathers during a press conference.

Kelly Lynch, the vice president of the Railroad Historical Society, says it’s important to preserve the sounds of the steam locomotive for future generations. He says the iconic bells and whistles make the train sound almost human.

“Those are just all of the telltale sounds that you’re on a time machine like this, and it does add a bit of personality to what is really just 400 tons of metal,” he said.

Lynch says it’s a labor-intensive process to take care of the steam engine. “Just to get the locomotive up and ready today is going to take about six hours,” he said.

Lynch says the first phase of the plan, which would include a railroad to the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo, will cost about $3-5 million. He says the Headwaters Junction advisory board is preparing grant requests for some of that funding.

The Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society will have an open house this weekend. The hours are Saturday, August 20 from 10-4 and Sunday, August 21 from 12-4.

Admission is free and train rides are $4.

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