WILLIAMSON - In celebration of the 30-year milestone of the Norfolk Southern (NS) Railway and as a means of expressing the companies gratitude to the faithful and dedicated employees and families of the NS Williamson Yard, the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society, Inc. rolled into town last Tuesday with Engine. No. 765, a 404-ton, Nickel-Plated, 16 ft. tall steam locomotive that would provide four excursion tours that took place over the past weekend.
Employees and their family/guests were provided the opportunity to enjoy one of four approximate 2 to 2 ½ hour tours, alternating with destinations of Beech Creek or Kermit. Each ride could accommodate up to 300 passengers. The passenger cars were retired in the 1950’s and are products of restoration that were purchased from several different railway companies including Santa Fe, Union Pacific, South Pacific, Burlington and the Pennsylvania Railroad.
Dennis Shepperd, NS Division Superintendent, told the Daily News that NS felt that it was a fitting tribute to commemorate the 30th year anniversary of the Railway Company with steam excursions aboard Engine No. 765 for active employees and their families, with each applicant awarded up to 4 tickets.
“These workers do a wonderful job for NS, and we want them to know that we appreciate their continued dedication and loyalty that has in the past and will continue in the future, maintain NS Railway’s reputation as a great career choice,” stated Shepperd.
“A company is only as good as their employees, and we’re blessed with some of the best.”
Wayne York, Excursion Manager for the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society, Inc., discussed the history of the Steam Locomotive Engine. No 765, explaining that it had been retired from service in 1958 and had ended up in a park in a City Park in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
“In 1972, a group of us railroad enthusiasts sought to save a city landmark from rusting away,” stated York. “Now, 40 years later, Engine No. 765 traverses the country as an icon of a bygone era and as a symbol of American pride and innovation.”
York explained that for each major division on which the No. 765 will operate, it will carry a heritage steam whistle from either the New York Central (Toledo), Norfolk & Western (WV and S. Ohio), Pennsylvania Railroad (Pittsburgh, Harrisburg), and the Wabash Railroad (St. Loius). In addition to these, No. 765 will carry the whistle from the first “700” series Nickel Plate locomotives.
“With 40 years behind us since we began the first restoration, we’re excited to share the 765 with a new generation, those who may not know or appreciate the railroad industry or who have yet to be awe-struck by the 765,” stated York.
A few interesting facts and specifics about the construction and make-up of No. 765 provided by York include that it is a Type S-2Class, Berkshire (2-8-4) Steam Locomotive, built on September 8, 1944 by the Lima Locomotive Works. It was restored in 1979 and was rebuilt in 2005 with assistance from grants and donations. As previously listed, it weighs 404 tons and is approximately 16 ft. tall, and is 100 ft. in length. Horsepower is listed as 4,500 Tractive efforts: 64,000 lbs., with a water capacity of 22,000 gallons and coal capacity of 22 tons.
The 765 can go nearly 200 miles before refueling and servicing are needed, and burns an average of 1 ton of coal and 1,000 gallons of water every 8 miles. The fire in the firebox can reach temperatures of over 3,000 degrees.
This year, York remarked that the historical society is publishing a 92-page, fully illustrated book covering the history of Engine No. 765 and commissioning a documentary film on 2012’s operations and the 39 years before.
Both the book and film will be available on their website, fortwaynerailroad.org.
Other sites to visit for additional information on Engine No.765 include facebook.com/fortwaynerailroad, twitter.com/fortwaynerails, twitter.com/nickelplate765, and youtube.com/fortwaynerailroad.