FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — After years of planning, work has started on an upcoming rail attraction in Fort Wayne.
Headwaters Junction will officially be located near Fort Wayne Outfitters on the north side of the St. Marys River, across from Promenade Park.
At one point in time, the group behind the project was hoping to land at the North River Property along Clinton Street, but the city has announced proposed plans for a soccer stadium at that location.
They’ve since bought land from the Hall family that was mainly used for parking at Fort Wayne Outfitters.
“Without that, we had no place to go. It’s a great start,” Don Steininger said.
Steininger is the chairman of the Headwaters Junction Committee.
He told WANE 15 they’ll probably be able to open sometime in August of this year, with a target date for a grand-opening set for Labor Day, which falls on Monday, September 5.
Work started over the weekend to transform the space that will become Headwaters Junction. On Saturday, a 1950’s club car was delivered to the property and precisely lowered onto a set of tracks.
Monday, a depot car that was built in Craigville, Indiana back in 1879 was moved there as well. Steininger said depot cars were mainly used for freight and baggage, but he believes this particular one was mainly used to transfer freight.
After the Headwaters Junction group obtained the depot car several years ago, they stripped it down and are now working to put it back together as it originally was, which they have to do because the car is on the National Register for Historic Places.
Steininger said when everything is all said and done, the club car will be available for private rentals and the depot car will have a café attached where ice cream, coffee, soda, and treats are served.
“This is the starting point of what headwaters junction can be. The question is what is phase two going to be? We don’t know yet. We know we’re working on it. We know there will be one,” Steininger said.
The group believes that the location across from Promenade Park will be a big benefit.
“I don’t think there’s any question,” Steininger said. “I think we will complement the park and the park will complement us.”
Everyone involved, including several board members who were there to watch the depot car deliver Monday, is happy to see their project finally coming to fruition. They believe there will be great interest in the attraction because of it’s uniqueness coupled with the historical perspective.
“After working on this for several years, now there’s some excitement and something has happened,” board member Kevin Vail said. “People are attracted to trains. They always have been, and I think there’s a sentimentality about that, too. I mean, the Christmas trains are standing room only every year and sold out. So, yeah I think there’s some excitement there.”