By Scott Williams
For the first time in 29 years, a historic operating steam locomotive will offer public train ride excursions out of Youngstown, Ohio in the summer of 2015.
While all of the details have not yet been released, Norfolk Southern along with the Fort Wayne Historical Society announced Thursday that Nickel Plate Road 765, a 1944 built steam locomotive, will haul passengers between Youngstown and Ashtabula on July 25 and 26 as part of Norfolk Southern’s 21st Century Steam Program.
Additional information including times, ticket prices, accommodations, boarding sites and other details about each trip will be available at fortwaynerailroad.org on May 1. Ticket sales will start at 6 p.m. EST on May 13.
With most major US railroads ending the regular use of steam locomotives on trains by the early 1960s, there are now several generations living today who have never had a chance to see a steam locomotive in action.
Historic steam locomotive No. 765 is a high-stepping, 14-wheeled machine that stands 15 feet tall, weighs 404 tons, goes over 60 miles an hour and is restored to the way it looked and sounded when it was built by the Lima Locomotive Works in Lima, Ohio in 1944.
Bryan Candiotti, a train enthusiast and railroad conductor, said he believes that the younger generations will be enthralled with the sight of a locomotive in action instead of being stagnant in a museum.
“Nickel Plate Road 765 — this magnificent warrior is a true test of time, love and devotion to steam railroading history,” Candiotti said. “To not fall in love with it at first sight is to not know what real beauty is.”
The Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society was formed in 1972 with the goal of saving Nickel Plate Road steam locomotive 765 from rusting away in a city park. The organization was successful in restoring the locomotive to operation on Sept. 1, 1979.
The initial rehabilitation effort was the first all-volunteer effort in the world to successfully restore and operate a mainline steam locomotive. Since then, No. 765 has operated in excursion and public exhibition service as an ambassador for the City of Fort Wayne and the railroad industry at large.
The FWRHS boasts a membership of just under 1,000 supporters and 100 full and part time volunteers from around the country.
Norfolk Southern Corporation is one of the nation’s premier transportation companies. Its Norfolk Southern Railway Company subsidiary operates approximately 20,000 route miles in 22 states and the District of Columbia, serves every major container port in the eastern United States and provides efficient connections to other rail carriers. Norfolk Southern operates the most extensive intermodal network in the East and is a major transporter of coal, automotive and industrial products.
Nickel Plate Road 765 was last in Youngstown in 1986, when it operated between Youngstown and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania over the now nonexistent Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad.