Historic '44 steam locomotive passing through area today

Historic '44 steam locomotive passing through area today

A historic steam engine will make its way through East Central Illinois today (Wednesday, Sept. 5) during a trek across the eastern United States.

The Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society Inc., which owns and operates the rebuilt Nickel Plate Road steam locomotive No. 765, is hosting weekend excursions across Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia for Norfolk Southern employees and their families this summer in celebration of the company's 30th anniversary.

"It's our way of saying thanks for being part of the team," Norfolk Southern director of public relations Robin Chapman said.

Norfolk Southern was formed in 1982 with the consolidation of Southern Railway and Norfolk and Western Railway.

The train coming through East Central Illinois will not have passengers on it as it is "deadheading" from its last excursion point of Harrisburg, Pa., to the next, Berkley, Mo., according to Chapman. It is expected to pass through Danville, Tilton, Catlin, Fairmount, Homer, Sidney, Philo, Tolono, Sadorus, Ivesdale and Bement between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

The 404-ton, nickel-plated, 16-foot-tall, 100-foot-long steam engine, built on Sept. 8, 1944, by the Lima Locomotive Works, was originally retired in 1958 and sat in a city park in Fort Wayne, Ind., until 1972. It was restored in 1979, and most of the restoration took place from 2000 to 2005, requiring about 15,000 volunteer hours and costing $750,000, with the assistance of grants and donations.

"The rest of the equipment will be vintage coach cars from various sources," Chapman said.

The 765 can go almost 200 miles before refueling and servicing as needed and burns an average of 1 ton of coal and 1,000 gallons of water every 8 miles.

This year, the historical society is publishing a 92-page, fully illustrated book covering the history of the 765 and is commissioning a documentary film on 2012's operations and the prior 39 years.

For more information about Nickel Plate Road steam locomotive No. 765, visit http://www.765.org or follow @nickelplate765 on Twitter. Other sites for updates on the 765 include facebook.com/fortwaynerailroad and youtube.com/fortwayne railroad.


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sameeker wrote on September 05, 2012 at 12:09 pm

Nice to learn of this in a timely manner. <end sarcasm>

787 wrote on September 05, 2012 at 1:09 pm

Timely, indeed.

Yet more superb reporting by the News-Gazette.

Mike Howie wrote on September 05, 2012 at 2:09 pm
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You're both right, and I apologize. I thought I'd posted this last night, only realizing this morning that it hadn't gone live.

Mike Howie

online editor

RailFan88 wrote on September 05, 2012 at 3:09 pm

It's coming back through the area on Sept 11th.



pattsi wrote on September 05, 2012 at 6:09 pm

It would be useful to post the approximate time the train will be passing thrugh the area on the 11th, for example when it will leave Decatur in the morning so we can figure out figure ot approximately when it will pass through Tolono, for example. The train gis map unfortunately does not keep up with real time very well.

fwrhs wrote on September 06, 2012 at 10:09 pm

The GPS updates every 60 seconds when there is service, you just have to refresh your browser. There is no timetable for the return trip, they run on no particular schedule. Departure times are typically announced at the Twitter page listed above, just reload the browser to ensure you have the most up to date information.

Sid Saltfork wrote on September 11, 2012 at 10:09 am

Saw it this morning around 10 something this morning between Tolono, and Philo.  I remember seeing steam trains when I was a little kid; but from a distance.  This time it was up close.  It was something to see.