Recreated historic settings in a colorful, accessible park with multiple educational, performance, venue and public gathering spaces. These renderings are conceptual and offer a suggested layout.
4th Street – a walkable, mixed use urban center accessible 24/7.
1. Nickel Plate Club/Banquet Center – The Nickel Plate Club will recreate the dining experience of the 1940s. With a jazz nightclub theme, stage and dance floor space, and meals adapted from famous dining car recipes from the past, the atmosphere and feel of the club coupled with a banquet center and outdoor dining will be unlike anything in Fort Wayne.
2. Trailhead – the Pufferbelly will become the most exciting trail in the region as it follows the rail line from 4th Street to Franke Park Drive or Fernhill Avenue. Visitors can park within reach of the trailhead station, where the characteristic platform, constructed as a twin structure to the nearby rail station, will provide shade and cover from the elements.
3. Miniature Railroad – the 7 and a half-inch scale railroad is perfectly sized for families, with operating steam and diesel locomotives that visitors can ride around the property for fun or transportation to the next stop on a tour.
4. Canal/Splash Pad – an homage to the canal history of Fort Wayne, a recreated canal will serve as attractive on-site storm water retention, follow the miniature railroad, and quarter a splash pad similar to Headwaters Park.
5. Streetscape – furthering the Headwaters Junction experience is what lies between North Calhoun and Harrison Street where commercial, residential, institutional, and retail shops can be housed in structures patterned off the industrial look of the Junction. Greenscape, public gardens, or a marketplace can increase the public gathering space. Additional attractions can be located here, on the north part of the property, or along the riverfront and Harrison Street.
6. Riverfront– patterned after canal docks, the riverfront are be reshaped into a boat and pedestrian friendly site where visiting watercraft can be moored.
7. Park/Performance Area – landscaped, rolling sidewalks and water features harmonize with the rugged features of the railroad yard, allowing trail and rail access via the Pufferbelly and Rivergreenway and outdoor performance and gathering areas perfect for impromptu musical performances or a family picnic. The circular performance bridge, modeled after the railroad turntable, maintains amphitheater-like seating on either side.
Recreated railroad structures and operating facilities immerse visitors in a sensory time machine that serves many purposes.
As part of the recreation of a turn of the century railroad yard, the tracks and facilities will be an important part in the aesthetic and sensory experience. From colorful and illuminated switch lanterns and semaphore signals to engine servicing facilities such as the water tower, coal dock, and crossing guard tower, every edifice will tell a story, adding genuine character to the experience.
Roundhouse – when not operating, locomotives are stored and worked on in the characteristic roundhouse. Inspired by the once ubiquitous structures in Fort Wayne, the roundhouse will be a brick and mortar building with oversized, Cathedral-like doors and windows, allowing ample daytime lighting but also nighttime illumination of locomotives and equipment for exterior viewing, especially on the Clinton Street side.
Four tracks with inspection pits will complete the functionality of the roundhouse, and an office, locker room, and bunkhouse patterned after the their historical counterparts will compliment railroad operations.
Though an active workshop, the roundhouse and its equipment will be accessible to the public to take in the sights, smells, and sounds of historic Fort Wayne. In this space, volunteers and employees will perform light repairs, service equipment, and fire up steam locomotives.
Spartan in its construction, the roundhouse will make use of sustainable and environmentally friendly building methods, relying heavily on natural light, furthering the historical ambiance and practicality of the building.
Turntable – used for turning equipment, the turntable is a unique structure that rotates 360 degrees, positioning locomotives and equipment with ease. Though a purely functional structure, the turntable also doubles as a display area allowing visitors to take in every angle of operating equipment.
Freight house – the last remaining original structure until demolition in October, 2010, the recreated 1913 freight house will house the offices and museum of Headwaters Junction, but accommodate the Nickel Plate Club, an atmosphere-laden restaurant and nightclub, with stage and dance floor area for performances. The northern most section of the freight house will house a private dining hall for special events and banquets and the exterior platform will allow for outdoor dining on the west side of the structure.
The first floor of the 2-story section will house a working model of downtown Fort Wayne during the 1940s and numerous museum pieces and artifacts. The second floor will feature offices, archives, meeting, and classrooms.
The original tracks and freight dock that accompanied the freight house will be rebuilt adjacent to the structure, allowing passenger and freight cars to be posed on display or for functional purposes, either as a dinner train boarding site or creative outdoor market where produce and food can be staged at the dock for the public, just as goods would have been unloaded over 60 years before.
Passenger station – before the Elevate the Nickel Plate campaign, the Nickel Plate Road had erected a beautiful one-story wooden station at Superior and Calhoun Streets. The station and its ornate woodwork will be faithfully recreated, down to the Western Union signage above its front door and neon Ft. Wayne station sign. With an adjoining platform built to resemble the architecture of Baker Street Station’s the station will serve as passenger arrival and departure point. Inside, the character of the original building will be recreated and the setting will provide private event space in conjunction with the nearby display track west of the station platform.
Outside, the platform will also connect to the display track, covering equipment that will be displayed outdoors, allowing visitors to explore exhibition equipment just as if they were waiting for a train a century ago.
Backshop – the church-like backshop replica will become a four track, heavy repair and restoration facility on the north side with the south side reserved as an elegant museum and convocation hall, where additional tracks in the floor will allow the display of attractive railroad pieces in an ornate setting that serves as museum space. This space will be available for meetings, events, and conventions, allowing visitors to view significant rehabilitation work while enjoying recreation of their choice. This area can be enhanced by three dimensional projections of “workers” from the industrial era in Fort Wayne that interact with visitors.
The backshop, built by the Fort Wayne, Muncie & Cincinnati in 1874 served the Lake Erie & Western and New York Central Railroads and survived until demolition in the mid 1990s. The restoration side will be open for guided tours and in union with the roundhouse be a working classroom for special educational programs. The southern wall facing 6th and north Calhoun Streets will contain large enough windows to view illuminated displays on the inside much like the roundhouse.