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Nickel Plate Express, City of Noblesville Open Newly Renovated Forest Park Depot

Noblesville and Nickel Plate Express officials opened the newly renovated Forest Park Depot inside Forest Park on June 6. The $1.6 million Noblesville Parks & Recreation project will make Forest Park Depot a destination spot and draw visitors to the 150-acre park and downtown square.

“Renovating Forest Park Depot at Hobbs Station was one of my top priorities when I took office in January 2020,” said Mayor Chris Jensen. “Trains have had a significant history in Noblesville, and this project shows our commitment to keeping that heritage and giving it a new life.”

The investment aims to capitalize on the presence of the Nickel Plate Express, operated by the not-for-profit Nickel Plate Heritage Railroad Inc., which began running excursions on the 12.4 miles of track between Atlanta and Hobbs Station in 2019.

“Hobbs Station will be a central landing point for visitors who may come for the train, but stay in Forest Park for the pool, golf course and historic carousel or visit our nearby downtown for our variety of stores and restaurants,” Jensen said.

The focal point of the renovation is the historic Hobbs Station, which was built alongside the Nickel Plate railroad in Tipton County in 1948 and brought to Forest Park in 1967. The project also included landscaping and walking paths, restroom addition, historic signs, and paved parking. It provides Nickel Plate Express a better place to operate at Forest Park, a new gift shop and adds a covered platform for passengers to board.

“That whole site was in need of a fresh look, a reinvestment,” Parks Director Brandon Bennett said. “The project revamped the 10-acre railyard, reintegrating it back into Forest Park as a viable and attractive piece of the park.”

Nickel Plate Express will open the new Hobbs Station to the public on Saturday, June 11 with 45-minute train rides at 10 a.m., 11:15 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. Tickets are $25. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit [nickelplateexpress.com]nickelplateexpress.com.

The city was first notified of environmental complaints about the previous operator, Indiana Transportation Museum, back in 2017. Following state inspections, the city has worked alongside the Indiana Department of Environmental Management to restore the site. Since the clean-up effort began, 95 percent of the coal ash and bad soil has been mitigated and removed. To date, over 10,000 tons of bad materials have been removed from the site, making it safe to reopen the ground as greenspace inside the park.