FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – After years of planning, work has begun on an upcoming railroad attraction in Fort Wayne.
Headwaters Junction will officially be located near Fort Wayne Outfitters on the north side of the St. Marys River across from Promenade Park.
At one point, the group behind the project hoped to land on North River property along Clinton Street, but the city announced plans for a football stadium there.
They have since purchased land from the Hall family that was primarily used for parking at Fort Wayne Outfitters.
“Without that, we had nowhere to go. It’s a good start,” said Don Steininger.
Steininger is the chairman of the Headwaters Junction Committee.
He told WANE 15 that they could probably open in August this year, with a target date for a grand opening set for Labor Day, which falls on Monday, September 5.
Work began last weekend to transform the space that will become Headwaters Junction. On Saturday, a 1950s club car was delivered to the property and accurately lowered onto a set of tracks.
On Monday, a depot car built in Craigville, Indiana, in 1879 was also moved there. Steininger said the drop cars were primarily used for freight and baggage, but he believes this one was primarily used to transfer freight.
After the Headwaters Junction group obtained the depot car several years ago, they took it apart and are now working to put it back to how it originally was, which they need to do because the car is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Steininger said when all is said and done, the club car will be available for private rentals and the depot car will have an attached cafe where ice cream, coffee, soda and candy are served.
“That’s the starting point of what the joining of sources can be. The question is, what will phase two be? We don’t know yet. We know we’re working on it. We know there will be. one,” Steininger said.
The group believes that the location across from Promenade Park will be a big advantage.
“I don’t think there’s any question,” Steininger said. “I think we will complete the park and the park will complete us.”
Everyone involved, including several board members who were there to witness the drop car delivery on Monday, are happy to see their project finally come to fruition. They believe there will be great interest in the attraction due to its uniqueness coupled with the historical perspective.
“After working on it for several years, there is now some excitement and something has happened,” said board member Kevin Vail. “People are drawn to trains. They always have been, and I think there’s a sentimentality to that as well. I mean, the Christmas trains only have standing room every year and are fully booked. So, yeah, I think there’s excitement there.