The historic Pennsylvania Line train station on Baker Street in downtown Fort Wayne turns 100 years old this year, and a birthday party is planned for this summer.
But this weekend, visitors celebrated all railroad history in Fort Wayne by taking a trip back in time for the fourth annual Railroad Celebration.
Three Rivers Railroad Heritage Council, a local railroad history club, hosted the event that filled the Baker Street station, 221 W. Baker St., with historical maps, photos, memorabilia and model railroads to commemorate the railroad history in the tristate region. Throughout the year, the club hosts several educational events about trains, said council president Steve Bryon of Fort Wayne. This weekend's celebration was one of those events to give train enthusiasts and historians a chance to share their knowledge with the community and talk about their passions.
Craig Berndt of Fort Wayne, a club member and chairman of the event, said each year the Railroad Celebration highlights different railroads that once ran through the greater Fort Wayne area. This year's celebration featured the Wabash Railroad, including the track once run by the historic Wabash Cannonball passenger train, according to the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society.
Bryon said attendance was down by about 20 percent this year compared with years past. He attributes the lower numbers to snow that was still falling Sunday morning. But not even the slick streets could keep true train lovers away. He said there was a steady stream of families and kids who came to see the trains on Saturday, and more junkies wandered in Sunday morning, wearing blue conductors' hats and lingering around displays.
The main arch of the station buzzed with model trains chugging around tracks, which Bryon said was a big draw for the younger visitors. He hopes that new generations continue to learn about the trains that once chugged through the Midwest.
"There are lots of historical things that have gone on in this city, and it's easy for new generations to not know what's gone on in the past," Bryon said.