Feasability study planned for river and rail attraction

Discuss anything news-worthy from the area.

Moderators: Moderator, Administrator

nathansixchime
Veteran
Posts: 230
Joined: Mon Mar 27, 2006 11:05 am
Contact:

Feasability study planned for river and rail attraction

Post by nathansixchime » Wed Dec 19, 2012 1:28 pm

Last year I authored a thread about an idea that the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society, Inc has been quietly working on:
http://www.fwarailfan.net/community/vie ... ion#p12813

As a refresher, Headwaters Junction is a mixed use gateway and downtown attraction concept combining river, rail, and trail development on North River and the surrounding areas. It demonstrates how mixed-use development can be realized as an exceptional investment, creating an anchor for an attraction that weaves the city’s existing assets and identity together in an authentic, active, and compelling experience.

What does it mean? It means transforming the former New York Central yard and right of way into a public gathering space where cultural, commercial, and recreation developments and efforts can flourish, and where the city can take advantage of existing assets (popular trail network, successful railroad attraction, and river access and development) in one place. To rails and railfans, it means a rail/transit attraction that recreates a corner of the city circa 1944 -- a tourist line, a roundhouse, a station, a place where the collection of the FWRHS can not only be preserved and showcased, but put to work during seasonal operations and during significant events. It also means a new short line railroad taking over the GR&I and operating it with vintage locomotives. To the non-rails, it means a unique place where you can take a river tour, enjoy dinner on a dining car, ride a streetcar to the zoo, walk through a working roundhouse, operate a train, park your bike for lunch. It means a new place for new experiences and favorite traditions. It means a place to let our own Polar Express live and breathe. To the city, it means a regional attraction with a literal "economic engine" at its heart -- Nickel Plate Road no. 765.

Today I can provide a significant update.

At the time of my posting last year, the idea had been picked up by public voting through Legacy Fort Wayne, and since then has advanced through the Legacy Fort Wayne process, and finally endorsed by Legacy Fort Wayne's riverfront champion team. Now, the Legacy committee, Mayor's Office, and City Council have approved funding for a feasibility for Headwaters Junction as part of the larger Riverfont Study.

Specifically, the plan says:
The Headwaters Junction proposal proved to be big, bold, and transformational. Incorporating this feature within a mixed-use development should not be overlooked. The consulting form should give HWJ its due diligence when developing a vision for our riverfront and North River.
You can read it here: http://www.legacyfortwayne.org/images/s ... ouncil.pdf

We do have a great example to follow out west, as there are many similarities : http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/inde ... _arri.html but what HWJ does is also establish a platform and railroad on which to operate these machines. The idea being that if Class 1s return to their stance regarding steam or historic operations as they were in the 1990s and early 2000s, the trains will have a place to live, work, and be useful engines.

To be sure, many things can still derail and complicate this effort. I have no way of knowing if it will happen. But this is a significant step forward. To the rails, the aim is to take the magic of the train, the draw of the steam locomotive, and create something that magnifies it. It means a place to bring the public into the world instead of hoping they'll stumble in the door. In a city built by the railroads -- that BUILT railroads - what today exists to tell that story? To the city, this is an opportunity to tell it's story, and let thousands create their own.

There's a new website at http://www.headwatersjunction.com chronicling the last year and then some for Headwaters Junction.

We've been quiet on this idea until it could gain some significant credibility. That time has arrived. Now the hard part begins. We need buy-in. We need support. We need meaningful comments and criticisms, ideas and contributions. What are yours?
Kelly Lynch
Vice President
Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society
http://www.fortwaynerailroad.org

cjberndt
Veteran
Posts: 656
Joined: Fri Aug 04, 2006 11:03 am

Re: Feasability study planned for river and rail attraction

Post by cjberndt » Wed Dec 19, 2012 6:59 pm

Kelly:

Will you form a railroad company to condemn the right-of-way between Fourth St. and DeGroff St. to rebuild the track to the NS connection for access to the GR&I?

Craig Berndt

nathansixchime
Veteran
Posts: 230
Joined: Mon Mar 27, 2006 11:05 am
Contact:

Re: Feasability study planned for river and rail attraction

Post by nathansixchime » Wed Dec 19, 2012 9:27 pm

Craig,

That's part of the plan, as most of the right of way is intact and under NS ownership (there's a fence and storage supplies in a portion acquired by the construction company off St. Marys.) The creation of a short line common carrier as a division of the attraction will be included in the business plan. NS did the idea a favor by retaining the spur to DeGroff for car storage, allowing operations to happen insular from the mainline.

In Roanoke, similar efforts are underway for the Virginia Museum of Transportation to acquire the Roanoke Belt Line for excursions/tourist train service as recommended by their own studies and encouraged by Norfolk Southern.

KL
Kelly Lynch
Vice President
Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society
http://www.fortwaynerailroad.org

User avatar
rrnut282
Veteran
Posts: 1993
Joined: Mon Jan 09, 2006 9:43 am
Location: M.P. CF161.8 NS's New Castle District

Re: Feasability study planned for river and rail attraction

Post by rrnut282 » Thu Dec 20, 2012 10:58 am

still sounds interesting.
rrnut282
(Mike)

User avatar
Hotbox
Veteran
Posts: 818
Joined: Sat Jan 07, 2006 12:23 am

Re: Feasability study planned for river and rail attraction

Post by Hotbox » Thu Dec 20, 2012 7:09 pm

nathansixchime wrote:
We've been quiet on this idea until it could gain some significant credibility. That time has arrived. Now the hard part begins. We need buy-in. We need support. We need meaningful comments and criticisms, ideas and contributions. What are yours?
It all sounds wonderful!! Almost too good to be true (with all the attendant caveats).

Do you foresee the 765 being a functional part of their "fixed transit" initiative? Or would it's role in context with this plan be mostly a home port/static display for your revenue operations conducted elsewhere ? At the heart of this question I'm trying to wrap my head around whether or not "contributors" will rightly expect to be able to board locally based excursions, or if the current scenario will continue requiring us to drive to distant locales to ride the machine?

That may have a big effect on how local pockets participate.

cjberndt
Veteran
Posts: 656
Joined: Fri Aug 04, 2006 11:03 am

Re: Feasability study planned for river and rail attraction

Post by cjberndt » Fri Dec 21, 2012 8:24 pm

Kelly:

Who will own the Fourth St. FtW&J/OmniSource property while it develops into Headwaters Junction? The City doesn’t own it.

Is the property owner on board with your plan?

Craig Berndt

nathansixchime
Veteran
Posts: 230
Joined: Mon Mar 27, 2006 11:05 am
Contact:

Re: Feasability study planned for river and rail attraction

Post by nathansixchime » Thu Dec 27, 2012 1:23 pm

cjberndt wrote:Kelly:

Who will own the Fourth St. FtW&J/OmniSource property while it develops into Headwaters Junction? The City doesn’t own it.

Is the property owner on board with your plan?

Craig Berndt
Craig,

That remains to be seen. It is being furthered by community development that the city must take control of the land for development. Part of the riverfront study will specify what CD has called "strategic property acquisition," and North River has been included in that category. That's not to say that the land could change hands before the city can acquire it and do whatever, as there are other developers eager to get control of this property. Ultimately it's my hope that with community development and the Legacy study the idea will demonstrate what we already know to be true: people love trains, trains can make an economic impact.
Hotbox wrote: Do you foresee the 765 being a functional part of their "fixed transit" initiative? Or would it's role in context with this plan be mostly a home port/static display for your revenue operations conducted elsewhere ? At the heart of this question I'm trying to wrap my head around whether or not "contributors" will rightly expect to be able to board locally based excursions, or if the current scenario will continue requiring us to drive to distant locales to ride the machine?
The 765 would be the centerpiece of the development, but the plan calls for other motive power to be utilized. As some know, the FWRHS owns an SD9, a CF7, and a Wabash/LE&FW 0-6-0 in addition to the 765. Additionally, other cities and transit attractions have recreated/restored streetcars as people-movers, which would likely be the most economical way to do it depending on the type of operation and the season.

We will be offering public excursions in 2013, including out of Fort Wayne. This has been a long term goal of the FWRHS -- and of course, me personally. It would provide us the opportunity to have trips that depart quite literally from downtown, from our own facility.
Hotbox wrote:That may have a big effect on how local pockets participate.
One of the driving forces behind this has been to share the 765 with more people than ever before, make it accessible nearly 24/7 and do it in a meaningful way. That's why the success story of the locomotives in Portland is so important -- they value the engines, had to find them a home, and put them in a blossoming riverfront district near a short line and adjacent to other attractions.

As far as local pockets, this answers one of the biggest burdens the FWRHS has faced: how to make the 765 meaningful and relevant in a city responsible for its preservation and for which it is a substantial cultural icon when you can't operate it here? The choice of being able to see it in a cage in New Haven or having to drive a few hours to ride behind it is not enviable. Even if we can develop our facility in New Haven, hoping people stumble across a garage on the state border is a far cry from what is possible. I don't want to be 50 years old and have a train in a barn capable of all this awesome stuff and not have a) anywhere to run it and b) no one who cares about it.
Last edited by nathansixchime on Thu Dec 27, 2012 1:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Kelly Lynch
Vice President
Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society
http://www.fortwaynerailroad.org

nathansixchime
Veteran
Posts: 230
Joined: Mon Mar 27, 2006 11:05 am
Contact:

Re: Feasability study planned for river and rail attraction

Post by nathansixchime » Thu Dec 27, 2012 1:36 pm

I can't attach the PDF, but here's the val map.
Attachments
4thstreet.jpg
Kelly Lynch
Vice President
Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society
http://www.fortwaynerailroad.org

User avatar
Notch 8
Veteran
Posts: 1536
Joined: Sat Feb 25, 2006 1:48 pm

Re: Feasability study planned for river and rail attraction

Post by Notch 8 » Sat Dec 29, 2012 5:50 am

nathansixchime wrote:Craig,

That's part of the plan, as most of the right of way is intact and under NS ownership (there's a fence and storage supplies in a portion acquired by the construction company off St. Marys.)

KL
The ROW between St Mary's & Sherman Schenkels purchased the north side of the ROW and Applied Metals purchased the south sidde from street to street. Applied did so for 1 reason the north side of their building was on the ROW and it gives both parties better access to their Properties. When they lifted this trackage I picked up the mm # 2 Question is 2 miles from what ?

Mike

nathansixchime
Veteran
Posts: 230
Joined: Mon Mar 27, 2006 11:05 am
Contact:

Re: Feasability study planned for river and rail attraction

Post by nathansixchime » Sat Dec 29, 2012 7:26 am

Could be two miles from the connection with the Fort Wayne and Muncie? It's roughly 1.4 miles from St. Marys/Polk to 4th Street.

Considering the ownership of the ROW between St. Marys and Sherman, there'd have to be some reacquisition of ROW like for a street or utilities project, but that's not to say the land between the two streets couldn't be hardscaped to accommodate everyone's interests. Included in the plan is the idea to help redevelop Polk Street, as the dilapidated ROW has become an eye sore and safety concern, with residents getting ballast tossed through windows, the mud and overgrowth taking over the street, etc. Some locals in civic and state government have called this the "forgotten" corner of Fort Wayne.

If North River never occurs, the old NKP yards would be an interesting spot to develop -- the idea has been floated before, you potentially lose the ability to connect Science Central, Pufferbelly Trail, the Zoo, etc, but there's still part of me that thinks you're taking a bunch of great assets from the middle of nowhere and hiding them in the middle of somewhere at that location...

KL
Kelly Lynch
Vice President
Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society
http://www.fortwaynerailroad.org

User avatar
Bob Durnell
Veteran
Posts: 516
Joined: Thu Jan 05, 2006 9:01 pm
Location: Fort Wayne IN

Re: Feasability study planned for river and rail attraction

Post by Bob Durnell » Sun Dec 30, 2012 10:14 am

I know Mitch harper is big on the idea to do something constructive with West Wayne. One way or another, maybe it could be utilized as part of the overall project.
If my opinions offend you, you should see the ones I keep to myself........

nathansixchime
Veteran
Posts: 230
Joined: Mon Mar 27, 2006 11:05 am
Contact:

Re: Feasability study planned for river and rail attraction

Post by nathansixchime » Sun Dec 30, 2012 11:04 am

One of the contingency plans is to look into developing a railyard park there (or use it for staging, storage if the 4th street idea takes off) but the issue with West Wayne is how visibly removed it is from downtown, though it has is other advantages, too. My fear is taking assets that are "hidden" in New Haven only to make them more accessible but less integrated if they are limited to the Nebraska Neighborhood, instead of tied in with other area attractions, though you could still rebuild ROW to connect to other areas of interest as in the original plan...it just makes more sense to centralize the hub of everything you want people to experience.
Kelly Lynch
Vice President
Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society
http://www.fortwaynerailroad.org

User avatar
Howard
Veteran
Posts: 260
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2006 1:54 pm
Location: Fort Wayne, IN

Re: Feasability study planned for river and rail attraction

Post by Howard » Sun Dec 30, 2012 7:54 pm

Notch 8 wrote:[quote="nathansixchime"
The ROW between St Mary's & Sherman Schenkels purchased the north side of the ROW and Applied Metals purchased the south sidde from street to street. Applied did so for 1 reason the north side of their building was on the ROW and it gives both parties better access to their Properties. When they lifted this trackage I picked up the mm # 2 Question is 2 miles from what ?

Mike
[/quote]

Craig Berndt has maps showing the NYC property ended at the center line of the south track of the PRR mainline and the NYC numbered their mileages from south to north. It would appear this would be 2 miles from there.

Howard

cjberndt
Veteran
Posts: 656
Joined: Fri Aug 04, 2006 11:03 am

Re: Feasability study planned for river and rail attraction

Post by cjberndt » Mon Dec 31, 2012 8:12 pm

Is it MP2 or MP.2?

PC and/or CR changed the mileposts and MP0 was no longer at the PRR mainline. Regardless which track you follow, if MP2 was between St. Mary’s and Sherman Sts., MP0 was not at a landmark such as Junction or Hugo.

If it’s MP.2, then MP0 is at DeGroff St., which is probably the east end of the spur track that is still in place.

I need to pull my documents to confirm, but I don’t think the R/W that was transferred to Allied Metals and Schenkel Construction was ever abandoned, at least not by the old petition-and-notice process. Maybe it didn’t need to be. I’m not up to date on abandonment laws.

Craig

nathansixchime
Veteran
Posts: 230
Joined: Mon Mar 27, 2006 11:05 am
Contact:

Re: Feasability study planned for river and rail attraction

Post by nathansixchime » Thu Jan 03, 2013 4:58 pm

The tax documents still show railroad ownership on the remaining ROW -- I think abandonment applies more to its aesthetic condition than anything else.

KL
Kelly Lynch
Vice President
Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society
http://www.fortwaynerailroad.org

Post Reply