“It was the image of people discovering (steam locomotive No. 765) and using the engine as a social gathering space that kept me up nights trying to figure out how to make this happen,” said Lynch, who is the society’s volunteer public relations manager.
Lynch’s idea for Headwaters Junction, an educational and entertainment venue that would provide a link to local attractions like the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo, isn’t new. Lynch first proposed the idea more than two years ago, before the historic Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railroad freight depot on Clinton Street was demolished, but hasn’t been able to gather enough monetary support for the plan.
What’s changed is the opportunity for funding through the Legacy Fund, money the city made on the lease and sale of its old electric utility City Power & Light.
But the entire property is about 37 acres, said Dan Wire, a member of the team that developed the riverfront proposal. Wire, a retired teacher and a self-proclaimed river advocate, believes there’s a misconception that Headwaters Junction would take up the entire property, but in reality it could be just one acre.
“Some people don’t understand that it could be added value to whatever else is there. It would be the whipped cream on the ice cream sundae,” Wire said.
Lynch said the locomotive is a part of the city’s history and it can’t be enjoyed by the community in it’s current location, in a warehouse about five miles east of New Haven.
“There’s a certain type of magic that this thing inspires,” he said of No. 765.