This was our cover story just 3½ years ago. This could be Fishers! It was hard to believe because the town had grown (quickly) on a suburban scale. Wide streets, single story buildings, large fields with trees around the municipal center. This rendering didn’t look anything like that. But Fishers had unveiled a plan for downtown that was designed to make the area around Town Hall more walkable, urban and business-friendly. This was the view from the second floor of Town Hall then.
This the view today
It’s a remarkable transformation, especially considering the time frame. In three short years the (now) city has seen amazing activity in the city core. Not everyone likes the change, and some question the public investment, but you have to admire the ambition that’s gone into the dozen or so buildings erected around the Municipal Center. They are creating a sense of place that was missing before, and luring residents and businesses that were nowhere to be found just a few years ago.
Nickel Plate Trail
One part of those plan for downtown Fishers includes a trail that would run on the right of way of the Nickel Plate Railroad, which runs north to Noblesville and south to downtown Indianapolis. Of course, turning it into a trail means the train tracks would likely have to come out.
For the past 30 years or so, the Indiana Transportation Museum has run a Fair Train on those tracks from Fishers to the Indiana State Fair in the Summer. All those fields around the Town Hall served as convenient parking lots for tens of thousands of people who enjoyed giving their kids a taste of railroading while avoiding parking hassles at the Fairgrounds.
The Fair Train was cancelled last year over track safety issues raised by some within the ITM’s own ranks. It doesn’t look like it will run this year either. The Fair Train was the museum’s main revenue generator and the cancellation has strained its finances.
We take a closer look at this unusual museum in this edition: what constitutes its collection, how it operates, and what are its prospects. It’s run a by a dedicated group of people who love trains and have made countless memories for families over the years. Here’s hoping the wheels of progress don’t claim one of Hamilton County’s most unique assets.
And, while we’re on the subject of trains, let me direct your attention to the Northern Hamilton County chamber page, page 28. Most of it is devoted to promoting a new festival called Atlanta Express. It celebrates our railroad heritage and promises to be a great time for both young and old. Sounds like a great opportunity to head up to the northern part of the county.