Fort Wayne - Historical Aspects


Nickel Plate
New York Central
Findlay, Fort Wayne and Western

Pennsy Logo

Pennsylvania Railroad

Today it is hard to imagine a dominating railroad in Fort Wayne other than Norfolk Southern, but the Pennsylvania Railroad was the largest railroad in Fort Wayne for nearly 50 years and had a big yard on the southeast side called Piqua.  The yard was first class and had a hump, roundhouse, shops, and many tracks, as well as crew facilities.  Fort Wayne was also an important junction of two Pennsylvania Railroad branch lines; the Grand Rapids & Indiana ran northward from Junction and the Cincinnati, Richmond and Fort Wayne (also known as GR&I) began just east of Piqua Yard at Adams.  The mainline through Fort Wayne was constructed from east to west in stages by several smaller companies in the 1850's.  After it was all completed the line was known as the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne, & Chicago (PFtW&C).  The other branch lines were built a few decades later.  The mainline was built completely straight between Van Wert and Mike (Fort Wayne) and there are very few curves west of Fort Wayne.  It was one of the most direct routes ever built.

The Pennsy mainline through Ft. Wayne was a busy thoroughfare right up through Conrail in 1976.  After Conrail Day freight traffic slowly began to be shifted northward onto the New York Central route through Kendallville and Waterloo.  By the early 1980's Conrail started trimming down the entire line west of Crestline, Ohio and by 1986 it was all converted to single-track and passing sidings.  At that time only a few local freights and Amtrak were the only things running on it.  In the late 1980's Conrail decided to not keep the line up to passenger specs west of Crestline and Amtrak was finally forced to pull out of Fort Wayne in 1990.  Norfolk Southern purchased the line west of Fort Wayne in 1994 and named it the Fort Wayne District.  They also bought the GR&I north of Junction at that time.  Conrail kept the mainline east of Fort Wayne as well as the Decatur Branch, but they sold the entire western end of Piqua Yard to Triple Crown.  The east end of Piqua Yard was kept for staging the local freights and for use as a small crew base.  The 1999 Conrail split-up gave the Pennsy mainline and the Decatur Branch to CSX.  They operated the line for over 5 years before leasing both lines to RailAmerica in August 2004.

Track Schematics 1967

These schematics show the Pennsylvania Railroad trackage through downtown Fort Wayne in 1967.  There are 4 main tracks east of the St. Mary's River bridge.  Special thanks goes to Bob Bunting for supplying these schematics!
St. Mary's River to Broadway St. 80 KB
Broadway St. to Clinton St. (Baker St. Station area) 137 KB
Clinton St. to Gay St. (and Mike Interlocking) 89 KB


Conrail Freight Schedules 1981

These schedules come from the September 25, 1981 Conrail Fort Wayne Division Timetable.  The Fort Wayne Line was still being used as a through-route at this time.  Some of these trains still run to this day, but on different lines.  The 2nd side shows the trains that were running on the Panhandle Line and the Michigan Branch (today's Marion Branch).  Just imagine ELCO going on the Marion Branch today.  Thanks to Michael Schwiebert for sending these!
Conrail Schedule (front) 91 KB
Conrail Schedule (back) 93 KB


NKP Logo

Nickel Plate

The mainline of the New York, Chicago & St. Louis Railroad (aka The Nickel Plate) was completed through Fort Wayne in 1882.  It was built atop the old Wabash & Erie Canal that passed through downtown.  The original yard was on the west side of town, just west of the St. Mary's River.  Eventually the East Wayne Yard was built in New Haven and the old yard was closed.  The line today is Norfolk Southern's Chicago District.  The other Nickel Plate line in Fort Wayne was the Lake Erie & Western which entered from the south.  It was completed in 1870 and acquired by the Nickel Plate in 1923.  Today this line is part of Norfolk Southern's New Castle District.  The track elevation through downtown Ft. Wayne on the mainline was completed in the mid-1950's.  This is the dedication plaque on the overpass at Calhoun St.


NYC Logo

New York Central

The New York Central came into Fort Wayne from the north and had a small yard where the present OmniSource scrap yard is across from Lawton Park.  This line was built in the 1860's and connected Fort Wayne with Jackson Michigan.  The railroad was known, logically enough, as the Fort Wayne & Jackson Railroad and was briefly operated by the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern before the New York Central took over.  Today a portion of this line exists between Cass Street and Runnion.  It was used by Norfolk Southern to access the former OmniSource scrap yard across from Lawton Park until the scrap yard was closed in 2000.  Currently this segment sees little or no train activity.  The track has long been removed north of downtown Fort Wayne.
The following was sent to me on October 23, 2002 from  Mark Gallmeier who used to live next to this track.  Thanks, Mark!

I lived in a house on the NYC Auburn line on Westbrook Dr. from 0 to 18.  I spent MANY hours playing on that line. 
Here's some details on this line from 4th Street to near Northrup.  For awhile our neighbors next door were a PennCentral family with an engineer dad who actually ran the line.  Always good for a loud horn.  Oh well.

From 4th Street up to Northrop the rail spur customers I remember are:

1.  The NYC freight depot at Clinton and 4th, of course.  This was mostly an LCL facility.  (bldg still exists)
2.  Superior Scrap Metals (now OmniSource) located on the other side of the trackage.  (scrap yard still in operation)
3.  City Light Power plant.  This had a spur and several holding tracks extending into Lawton Park.  Coal hoppers came in there of course.  (power plant still there, closed.  Now a 'science' education center).
4.  Another spur running into Indiana & Michigan Power's service yard between Clinton and Spy Run.  Flats with wire spools and transformers came in there.  This spur paralleled Elizabeth Street with a bridge across Spy Run Creek.  (Some of I&M's yard is there, I think, plus the bridge).
5.  At the corner of Clinton and Jacobs Streets General Telephone had a repair depot/center.  They had a spur for service, too.  More wire spools and box cars with 'stuff'.  (Bldg still exists, converted to some kind of retail place).

The line crossed West Jacobs St. at grade.  Flashers but no gates.

6.  Valspar Paint located between Edgehill and Cass Streets on West Jacobs had a spur.  Across the tracks diagonnally from the Telco.  (Valspar still there)

The line crossed West State St. on a plate girder bridge with a ballasted deck (now removed). 

7.  Just north of State Street at the corner of West State and Cass there used to be a lumber yard with a spur.  Just north of this off Cass St. there was a gravel facility in the 1960s that also had a spur line.  (Both gone)

The line then crossed Spy Run Creek on a plate girder with open timber top.  Paralleling that bridge is an ancient concrete bridge, nearly hidden by brush and trees now.  My dad told me that was an interurban bridge for the interurban line that paralleled the NYC trackage along there.  They went out of service in the 30s I think.   (Bridges still there in 2000)

8.  Roethele's Lumber was the next customer, just north of Spy Run Creek.  To reach them by auto you'd go up Wells Street.  Still in biz I think).


Wabash Logo

Wabash Railroad

The Lake Erie, Wabash and St. Louis Railroad built this line from Toledo through Fort Wayne in the 1850's and it ran parallel to the Wabash & Erie Canal, passing through Woodburn and New Haven.  For awhile, the Wabash used the Eel River Railroad between Logansport and Butler to get to Detroit.  When the Wabash was no longer allowed to use the Eel River Railroad they built their own line between New Haven and Butler, completed in 1902.  The Wabash depot in Fort Wayne was between Calhoun and Harrison St. on the south side of the tracks.  It was torn down many years ago but one of the old stairways up to the platform still stands.  The Wabash line today is Norfolk Southern's Huntington District and uses the "new" section between Butler and New Haven.  The original Wabash line east of New Haven is the Norfolk Southern Woodburn Branch up to Woodburn.  East of Woodburn it is operated by the Maumee & Western Railroad.

Findlay, Fort Wayne, & Western Railroad

This short-lived line once ran between Findlay, Ohio and Fort Wayne.  It was constructed in the late 19th Century due to high demand for natural gas.  Findlay was a major natural gas supplier at that period in time.  The FF&W also had passenger service, including a Pullman car via the Pennsylvania Railroad.  The line entered Indiana at Baldwin (right on the state line) and then passed through Townley.  It curved northwest into Fort Wayne, basically paralleling north of today's US 30.  The line ended at the Wabash Railroad near Winter St.  The FF&W was abandoned in 1919 and today there are still some remnants of the line in the area.


Fort Wayne was served by several interurban railroads, one of the last being the Indiana Railroad, which ran to Muncie and Indianapolis.  The last day of its operation was January 18, 1941.  The line came up from the south on Broadway St. using the old streetcar line into town.   Also the Fort Wayne, Van Wert, & Lima Traction Co. came in from the east and there is a significant relic leftover from it.  In Monroeville a portion of the steel girder bridge that used to cross the Pennsy is still standing just west of town.
George Meyer rode the Indiana Railroad, Ft. Wayne to Indianapolis, interurban and filmed this in 1940 in 16mm color.  Riding down the middle of Broadway St. we are southbound coming up on Jefferson Blvd.
Taken just a few minutes after the above shot, here you can see the GE plant in the background as we head further south down Broadway St.  This is roughly in the location of the Three Rivers Co-op on Broadway.  By this time automobiles outnumbered all interurbans combined and were quite an obstacle for most interurbans to navigate through.  This photo and the above were taken from Herron Rail Videos tape "Singing Wire Vo1.2 - Indiana Railroad" c.1991. It is available at the Allen County Public Library.  Highly recommended.
This is one of two Indiana Railroad high speed interurban cars that are preserved.  This is car #65 and it resides at the Illinois Railway Museum.  This was the museum's very first car and it still runs from time to time.
Fort Wayne and Lima carThis ghostly looking object is a car from the interurban Fort Wayne & Lima Railroad that is also at the Illinois Railway Museum.  This car was used as a building previously and was rescued by the museum.  It is on their long list of cars to be restored.  This car crossed over the Pennsy bridge in Monroeville many a time.


Amtrak Logo

Amtrak service began in Fort Wayne on its beginning day, however it was not to last forever.  Amtrak ended passenger train service in Fort Wayne in November 1990 due to Conrail's downgrading of the Pennsy track west of Crestline, Ohio.  There were 2 trains in each direction at that time: The Broadway Limited (Nos. 40 & 41) from Chicago to New York-Penn Station and The Capitol Limited (Nos. 29 & 30) from Chicago to Washington D.C, complete with dome cars.  Both trains were rerouted north of Ft. Wayne in 1990.  The Capitol Limited was placed on the Conrail (now Norfolk Southern) Chicago Line where it still runs today with a stop at Waterloo, Indiana,  and the Broadway Limited (later called the Three Rivers) was routed onto the CSX Garrett/Willard Sub, stopping at Garrett.  The Garrett passenger stop was eliminated in 1995 and then the train itself was terminated in 2005.
The last Amtrak timetable with Ft. Wayne rail service - (October 1990) - those westbound times sure were early in the morning, but it was better than what we have now!

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© Original Content Copyright 1999-2007 David Safdy
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