- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 16, 2015

NEW HAVEN, Ind. (AP) - Maxwell Berry is your typical 6-year-old boy, said his mother, Amber Berry.

“He’s into anything with wheels, cars,” she said.

So for a treat, Maxwell and his mom and dad, Nick Berry, all of Roanoke, grandmother Peggy Berry and aunt and uncle Jennifer and Jake Good took a ride on a big red caboose.

They were among 400 people who stopped by the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society’s open house Saturday and Sunday in New Haven for an old-fashioned train ride.

The circa-1905 caboose is quaint and pleasantly bumpy. Riders sit on long leather-cushioned seats across from one other, with a table and chair at the rear where the crew sit across from a coal-fired stove. Up wrought-iron ladders are small seats perched high and somewhat precariously as the train moseys down the tracks about a half-mile before heading back.

Engine crew volunteer Rich Brinkley radioed to the engineer as the train made the switch back to the station. In the old days, crews would have used lanterns, hand signals and whistles, Brinkley told The Journal Gazette (https://bit.ly/1Fjm1L9 ).

“Cool,” was all Maxwell Berry could say as he took in the atmosphere of the moving train. With the train whistle blowing, his smile said it all.

The society has been conducting these open houses at its Edgerton Road site east of New Haven for about 15 years, said Bill Otter, the society’s president. But the real star of the day sat on the next track: the 765, a steam locomotive that will power excursions from Fort Wayne starting in July and ending in mid-October. The locomotive built in 1944 was retired to Lawton Park in 1956 and sat there until the society started rehabbing it in 1972.

Sunday’s visitors had a chance to sit in the engineer’s seat in front of a massive array of knobs, dials and sliding cast-iron doors that opened to reveal the fire raging inside.

“There’s no other machine that’s alive like that,” said Otter, standing in the center of the engineer car, letting the breeze blow in through the windows. “It’s got a pulse.”

Just behind all the knobs and the stove was the coal bin.

To go 10 to 12 miles, the 765 needs a ton of coal and 1,000 gallons of water, said Rick Popp, a board member and a volunteer worker with the society.

In a large restoration facility at the site, society members are working on an auxiliary tender car capable of carrying 25,000 extra gallons of water.

Excursions took place from 1979 to 1993 with more than 10 years off to rebuild the locomotive engine to federal standards. Starting up again in 2006, the excursions have gone as far as West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Michigan, Georgia and New Jersey.

The 765 is a Berkshire model with four wheels on each side that are 69 inches high. It is one of only two of its type still operating in the nation today.

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Information from: The Journal Gazette, https://www.journalgazette.net

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