- Associated Press - Saturday, January 7, 2017

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (AP) - The City of Hammond has agreed to move a historic locomotive to Fort Wayne for restoration and preservation.

The Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society announced the Nickel Plate Road steam locomotive No. 624 will be moved to a private facility in northeast Indiana for a full cosmetic restoration, and possible operational restoration after further inspection.

The initial restoration is estimated to cost $250,000, but a full restoration that would make the locomotive operational could cost about $1.2 million.

“Considering how long the locomotive has been outside, it’s in remarkably good shape. The abatement early in its display life did wonders to preserve the boiler,” Zach Hall, the society’s operations manager and mechanical consultant, said. “While there is some obvious deterioration, it can be repaired. Beneath all the rust and faded paint is a locomotive in decent condition.”

The locomotive was built in 1922 by Lima Locomotive Works and was donated to the City of Hammond in 1955. The restoration project will be sponsored by a private donor, with the historical society providing technical support.

“Conversations about what to do with park engines like the 624 can be challenging for any community and it’s rare to have both the right opportunity, partners and experience as we do in the situation with 624,” society vice president Kelly Lynch said. “We are excited for the opportunity to give this important artifact a bright new future and carry on the legacy of Hammond’s railroad history.”

The historical society, which announced the plans on Wednesday, plans to eventually house the locomotive at Headwaters Junction, a railroad roundhouse and museum planned for downtown Fort Wayne.

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