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Rare steam engine may soon make its way downtown

Fort Wayne Business People covers the I-think-I-can momentum behind Fort Wayne riverfront development and its Phase 1 attraction: Headwaters Junction.

Based on suggestions by the SWA Group, the City of Fort Wayne’s riverfront consultant, and on the vision of the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society (FWRHS), the idea is to incorporate Headwaters Junction into the master plan for the 700 acres of downtown riverfront.

According to the Headwaters Junction website (, the vision for Headwaters Junction includes a recreated roundhouse, a once-common structure in Fort Wayne that served many of the community’s railroads. The roundhouse would be used to restore and maintain historic equipment and would include a turntable, small railroad yard and interpretive facility for display and exhibition.

The FWRHS would use Headwaters Junction to expand its present operations, events and annual programming. That programming includes seasonal tourist trains, chartered trips, river tours and conventions, as well as the already famous Santa Train and other holiday events.

But Headwaters Junction won’t just be a pretty venue. Old trains mean big business. Preliminary studies estimated that Headwaters Junction would draw an additional 100,000+ visitors annually to downtown Fort Wayne. According to numbers from Visit Fort Wayne, that means an additional $9 million invested in the local economy.

“We were honored that the consultants continuously advocated for authentic, sustainable development and felt that Headwaters Junction would really bring the riverfront to life, even in the winter months,” says Lynch. “You can’t get more authentic than the 765. This machine creates incredible emotional experiences wherever it turns a wheel, and that is a major factor in attracting and retaining talent and enhancing a city’s quality of life.”

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