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.