A map shows how the planned Headwaters Junction project will look and operate as part of a proposal for the North River property. Image provided
A map shows how the planned Headwaters Junction project will look and operate as part of a proposal for the North River property. Image provided
The plan for Headwaters Junction has chugged forward, moving closer to being part of the redevelopment of the North River property in Fort Wayne.

The nonprofit organization behind the attraction has secured a purchase agreement with the Norfolk Southern railroad for 1.4 miles of railroad right of way. The acquisition would bring historic trains up to the approximately 30-acre former OmniSource property across Clinton Street from Science Central.

The multimillion-dollar proposed attraction would offer the public a chance to learn about, view and ride trains headed by 20th-century locomotives already woven into the city's culture and history.

Backers say the venue could attract 140,000 visitors and provide more than $63 million in economic impact annually.

Lately, however, progress had seemed stalled. But with the land – and a donation from Steel Dynamics for rails to reinstall the track – the project is moving again, Don Steininger, president of the Headwaters Junction board, told The Journal Gazette.

Steininger, a longtime Fort Wayne developer, said the plan would not interfere with the city's desire to develop for commercial use the largest and most visible portion of the North River tract along Clinton Street.

“We did in nine months what was expected to take a year to do,” he said of the right of way negotiations. The route runs roughly from Polk to Fourth streets, which Steininger noted comprises a prime stretch of waterside real estate on the north side of the St. Marys River.

Headwaters Junction still would need about 8 acres of additional land along the west side of the North River property to continue the track to an area at the northern end proposed to house a restored passenger depot and a restored working roundhouse for locomotive storage and viewing.

“But Headwaters Junction is not taking everything (at North River) by any means. The rest is in redevelopment hands,” Steininger said, referring to the Fort Wayne Redevelopment Commission, which bought the property for $4.6 million in 2017.
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