above drawing courtesy of Ken Houghton of Houghton's
Conrail's last day in Fort Wayne was a gray and
rainy Memorial Day. On May 31, 1999 the last Conrail train
to depart Piqua Yd. was the Decatur local and it stayed in Decatur overnight
where it officially became a CSX train at 12:00am sharp on June 1, 1999.
May 31, 1999. Farewell to Conrail - Fort Wayne,
Indiana crew base.
Circus Train Departs
Conrail Circus-500, the Ringling Bros. Circus Train,
was the last Conrail train to run on the ex-Pennsy mainline east of Fort
Wayne. Unfortunately it derailed in Piqua Yard early in the morning
as it was being pulled into one of the yard tracks. There was severe
damage to one of the cars and minor damage to another car and an engine.
There were no injuries. Below is an excerpt from the FRA report.
STATION: FORT WAYNE
TRKNAME: PIQUA YARD
CIR-500 PULLING OFF #2 TRACK INTO #9 TRACK WHEN 2 CARS DERAILED
AT SWITCH.....NO INJURIES.. CAUSE: 599 TO H999 -LONG CARS AND
SHORT DRAWBARS CAUSED CAR TO CLIMB RAIL AT SWITCH POINT.....CR 8146
ENGINE, DAMAGE $5,000. RBBX 41303 CIRCUS CAR, DAMAGE $80. AND RBBX 42107
CIRCUS CAR, DAMAGE $70,000. TOTAL $75,080. WRECKING COST: $550. NOTE:
THIS IS THE CIRCUS TRAIN RUNNING ON CONRAIL.....
Eventually the wreck was cleaned up and the car
with the severe damage was set aside. This RBBX car (42107) sat at
East Wayne Yard for nearly a year afterwards. The train departed
east in the afternoon to Crestline where it was reorganized to turn south
on the Columbus Line. The heavy rain all day plus this unfortunate
derailment made for a sad end to Conrail's 23 year presence in Fort Wayne.
wreck crane was busy re-railing the Circus Train at Piqua Yard on Conrail's
last day in Fort Wayne.
damage to the side of one of the Circus Train cars.
"Circus Train 500" was the last Conrail train to use the Fort Wayne to
Crestline main. Here the train is crossing the Conrail T&OC diamond
at Dunkirk, Ohio. Note the raindrops on the lens. It was a
dark and rainy day ending the Conrail era.
as he goes through Delphos, OH and talks with the dispatcher about how
they will arrange the train at Crestline to head south for Columbus.
The dispatcher also gives him "more railroad" from Cole to CP Colson
[Real Audio, 803K, 1:40 sec.]
he blows the whistle through Dunkirk the elephants' cars are just a few
cars behind the engines
and you have to wonder if they mind being that close the whistle.
[MP3 Format, 363K, 46 sec.]
The Last FWEL
On May 30, 1999 FWEL-0 (Fort Wayne-Elkhart) departed Fort Wayne for the
last time. The purpose of FWEL was to channel the loads and empties
from the 2 Conrail locals into a major yard (in this case, R.E. Young,
Elkhart) and since the Elkhart yard is now owned by Norfolk Southern this
train became unnecessary.
reports clear of Mike at 11:30pm to the Conrail Kankakee Dispatcher one
last time. Sorry no pictures.
It was way too late at night! [MP3 Format, 223K, 27 sec.]
The Decatur local departed Fort Wayne as a Conrail train on May 31, 1999
and stayed overnight in Decatur where it became a CSX train the next day.
Conrail Kankakee dispatcher talks to WDFW-01 in Decatur one last time on
May 31, 1999. The train was tied down for the night near 2nd St.
I couldn't pick up the train from my location, just the dispatcher and
he gives the final "out" after making preparations for the crew's return
to Fort Wayne. [MP3 Format, 262K, 32 sec.]
Watching The Changes
Fort Wayne Line - This line went to CSX immediately after the acquistion
and they operated it from 1999 to 2004. CSX leased the line to RailAmerica
on August 1, 2004 for 20 years. NS trackage rights are used
in the city between Mike and Sand interlockings. Other than SDI locals,
NS does not use the line west of Fort Wayne anymore.
Chicago/Fostoria District - One of the biggest effects post-Conrail
has been a change in usage of this line. NS no longer uses this line
as a through-route to the east. It is used primarily as a bridge
route to and from the New Castle/Sandusky Districts and also as a connector
from St. Louis to Bellevue and Cleveland. Almost all Chicago-East
Coast trains now use the ex-NYC Chicago Line to the north. Traffic
levels between Hill and NE on this line have fallen substantially since
Conrail's last day.
New Castle District - This line has too seen a decrease in traffic.
Initially after the merger, several trains were routed off the New Castle
District. Some have returned but others have not, such as 227 and
228. NS's acquisition of the ex-Conrail Cincinnati Line through Springfield,
OH has taken a few trains off the New Castle District, as well.
Huntington District - Of all the NS lines in the area, this one
has seen the largest increase in volume since Conrail days. Several
of the trains that used to run on the Conrail Indianapolis Line through
Muncie now run on the Huntington District and the segment between Hugo
and Mike in Fort Wayne is now one of the busiest sections of railroad in
Decatur Secondary - Other than changes of ownership, nothing has
really changed on this line as far as operations. RailAmerica runs
the local down to Central Soya as in the Conrail & CSX eras.