Kentucky Midland Railway

On February 24, 1888, the Paris, Georgetown & Frankfort Railway Company was renamed the Kentucky Midland Railway Company[1] and the charter amended to “authorized <the company> to extend its line or lines of railroad to the eastern boundary of Kentucky on the Big Sandy river along any route or routes it might select.” [i]

The officers were William Lindsay (President), Daniel W. Lindsey (Vice President), A. H. McClure (Secretary), E. L. Samuel (Treasurer), George B. Harper (General Superintendent, Chief Engineer and Superintendent of Telegraph), C. D. Bercaw (General Freight and Passenger Agent) and S. French Hoge (Auditor).  The directors were William Lindsay, Daniel W. Lindsey, E. L. Samuel, Edmund H. Taylor, Jr., John T. Buckley, James E. Cantrill, James M. Thomas, James W. Ferguson and W. N. Smoot.  The directors were from Frankfort, except Cantrill from Georgetown, Thomas and Ferguson from Paris and Smoot from Owingsville.[ii]


In 1888, F. L. McChesney, of Paris, published a pamphlet titled The Kentucky Midland Railway Company – Its Resources and Prospects.  The booklet reported:

“The objective points of the Kentucky Midland are:  Louisville to the west and Norfolk to the east . . . . the proposed road will run through the finest sections of Kentucky – The Blue-grass region and the mountain counties richest in mineral resources.”

“No road built in Kentucky, within the last twenty-five or thirty years, has had a good a basis of credit as the Kentucky Midland, and none has before it a more encouraging outlook for the future.”

“Careful estimates, made by a competent engineer, Mr. J. M. Douglas, formerly connected with the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, and verified by Mr. Patton, late Chief Engineer of the Louisville, St. Louis and Texas Railroad, show that the proposed road can be built and equipped for less than $20,000 per mile.”

The pamphlet  reported on the route:

“Starting from Frankfort, the Capital of the State, a prosperous city of from 8,000 to 10,000 inhabitants, and one of the largest lumber markets . . . . proposed road will pass eastwardly . . . through Stamping Ground . . . . Georgetown is reached, a flourishing city of 3,000 inhabitants . . . . Here a junction is made with the Cincinnati Southern, opening to that road the most direct line to Frankfort and to Louisville.  The Kentucky Midland will certainly divide the business south of its line with the Lexington branch of the Louisville & Nashville, and will also receive the entire traffic north of its line where there is no competing road.”“Traversing a magnificent section of Bourbon county, the road will reach Paris, a growing and enterprising city of between 5,000 and 6,000 inhabitants.  The business of Paris is large . . . . the most important shipping point on the Kentucky Central Railroad.”

“after passing through Bourbon the road will enter the county of Bath within about one-half mile of Sharpsburg . . . . the farmers are well-to-do, and almost all have deposits in their local bank.”

“The road will pass through Owingsville, a prosperous, thriving, business town.”

“The Kentucky Midland will cross the Chesapeake & Ohio near Salt Lick, and thence will pass on through Morgan county.  Near Salt Lick it will reach and cross the Licking river, and open up a large lumber trade.”

“In Morgan county, is the best defined and most reliable and largest cannel coal[2] field in the known world.”[iii]

Stock Subscriptions:

During spring 1888, the organizers obtained $70,000 in subscriptions to the company’s preferred stock[3].  The stock had a par value of $50 per share.  The primary preferred stockholders were Mason, Gooch & Hoge Company ($25,000), William Lindsay ($5,000), L. A. Thomas ($4,000), Farmers Bank ($2,500), Miles & Son ($2,500), Daniel W. Lindsey ($2,000), E. L. Samuel ($2,000) and J. Buford Hendrick ($2,000).  In addition, Capital Hotel, Crutcher & Starks, E. H. Taylor, Jr. & Sons, Hiram Berry, J. M. Wakefield, John T. Buckley, P. S. Rule & Co., R. K. McClure, R. P. Pepper, T. J. Congleton & Brother, W. L. Pence and W. T. Gaines invested $1,000 in common stock.  The above investors controlled over 80 percent of the railroad’s preferred stock.  [iv]

In May and June 1888, the cities of Paris and Frankfort also subscribed $50,000 and $100,000, respectively, in preferred stock of the railroad.  These subscriptions were paid for in county bonds, bearing six percent interest, which were then discounted (sold) to other investors.[v]

County Subscriptions:

The voters in Franklin, Scott, Bourbon and Bath Counties conditionally subscribed $150,000, $100,000, $250,000 and $150,000, respectively, in common stock.  The Franklin subscriptions required that the “line of the said railroad shall be located as near to the Forks of Elkhorn and Switzer as in the judgment of the chief engineer shall be reasonably practicable, having due regard to the cheapness of construction and direction of route.”  The Scott County subscription required that the road be built through Stamping Ground and “when the cars run to Georgetown.”[vi]

The Bourbon County subscription was divided as $150,000 “on completion of the road east of Paris (15) fifteen miles,” $50,000 “on completion of next five (5) miles” and $50,000 “on completion of branch road to Kentucky Union Junction (12) twelve miles.”[vii]

The Bath County subscription was divided as $75,000 “on completion of main line from Bath County line to Owingsville (13) thirteen miles” and $75,000 “on completion of said line from Owingsville to eastern line of Bath County (16) sixteen miles.”[viii]

Overall, the company had $220,000 in cash (or bonds) from the stock subscriptions and $650,000 in pledged subscriptions to start construction.  The company was also authorized to issue mortgage bonds in the amount of $25,000 per mile of line.  However, the Bourbon and Bath Counties subscriptions were forfeited when construction stopped at Paris.[ix]

The Elkhorn Route:

The company immediately began security the right-of-way for the first division, from Frankfort to Georgetown.  This segment was 23 miles in length.  The railroad’s survey corps prepared the final set of drawings and began staking the route.  Charles C. Sroute headed the railroad’s surveying corps and acted as the consulting engineer.[x]

The line basically following the northside of the North Fork of Elkhorn Creek northeast to Stamping Ground[4], then southeast to Georgetown.  The initial segment included a two miles 2.4 percent upgrade over the Frankfort Hill, requiring a large iron viaduct.  The line then crossed Elkhorn Creek over a steel bridge and trestle, near the Forks of Elkhorn.  The line then cut across the rolling hills into Stamping Ground and Georgetown.  Just prior to Georgetown, another bridge was required to cross the North Fork.

The second division, from Georgetown to Paris, contained 18 miles, basically following a straight line, along the southside of the North Fork to Newtown.  At Newtown, the route crossed the North Fork twice and then followed the northside of the North Fork toward Paris.  Just west of Paris, the line crossed Houston Creek, connected with the Kentucky Central Railway and its yard.  The route becomes known as The Elkhorn Route.

The unfinished third division, from Paris to Owingsville, contained 34 miles, south from Paris to North Middletown, then east to Flat Rock, Sharpsburg to Owingsville.  In addition, a branch line was planned from North Middletown to KU Junction, a distance of 12 miles.  At KU Junction, the line would connect with the Kentucky Union Railway, which ran from Lexington to Jackson.

The first two divisions were estimated to cost $700,000 (or $17,500 per mile), which required 1 iron viaduct, 9 bridges and 30 trestles to cover creeks and depressions along the route.  The Frankfort to Georgetown division contained 27 viaduct, bridges and trestles, while the Georgetown to Paris division contained 13 bridges and trestles.  The third division was estimated to cost $708,160, or $20,825 per mile.  This branch was projected to cost $253,873, or $20,156 per mile.  See Appendix E – Cost Estimates.[xi]


In early 1888, the Shiffler Bridge Works of Pittsburg began erection of the Buffalo Trace Viaduct.  The viaduct was located on the river bluff, known as Frankfort Hill, about 1 mile east of Frankfort.  This portion of the line rose at a 2.4 percent grade out of the river bottom.  The span was 660 feet long and 150 feet high at the center.  The viaduct contained over 395,000 pounds of steel.  The viaduct was designed by Edwin Thacher of Decatur, Alabama.  The structure was constructed with alternating 30 foot and 60 foot plate girder deck bridges.  The company first erected the masonry foundations and steel piers.  The company then used a rolling crane to place the plate girders into place.  Construction was finished around March 1888.[xii]

Construction crews finishing the Buffalo Trace Viaduct, March 1888   <Capital City Museum>

In July 1888, the railroad hired Mason, Gooch & Hoge[5] Company “to construct a single line of railway from Frankfort to Paris, a distance of (40) miles.”  The contract specified that the line was to be finished to Georgetown by June 1889 and Paris by November 1, 1889.  The contractor also purchased $25,000 in preferred stock.  The organizers indicated that with the subscriptions from Franklin and Scott Counties and the City of Frankfort, the work would be pushed forwards.  The rest of the construction costs were to be covered by issuing bonds, secured by the finished tracks.[xiii]

In July 1888, the contactor began clearing and grading the railbed.[xiv]  The first step was clearing of the brush and trees along the roadbed, primarily by unskilled laborers with axes, handsaws and picks.  Teamsters then pulled the stumps (with horse-drawn winches) and used root cutters to break the ground.  The next step was grading and leveling of the right-of-way by unskilled laborers with picks, shovels and wheelbarrows, followed by scrappers, drawn by draft animals.  Large rocks were cleared by blasting with black powder.  While the grading work was being performed, stonecutters and masons began working on culverts and the piers and abutments for bridges at river crossings.

Bridge No. 2, located between the bottom of the grade and Kentucky State University, near Frankfort, circa 1889   < Capital City Museum>

In August 1888, the newspaper reported that over 1,000 hands were at work on the line.  Over half of these workers were leased prisoners[6] from the State Penitentiary in Frankfort.  These prison inmates were leased for a $1.00 per day to the contractor.[xv]

In September 1888, it was reported that “the deal by which the Kentucky Midland will pass out of the hands of its present owners into those of a Philadelphia syndicate will be consummated this week . . . . the new owners will push the completion of the road <from Louisville> . . . . and extend <it> from Georgetown to Pikeville, Kentucky.”  However, Captain John M. Thomas, of Paris, wrote Judge Lindsay indicating that Bourbon County opposed the “bonds going into the control of systems now operating in Bourbon County.”  He further indicated “Judge Lindsay will possibly arrange something <bond sales> in Europe.”  However, the deal fell through.[xvi]

The next month, the railroad negotiated with the Kentucky Construction Company, of Louisville, for “letting a contract for building the whole road from Frankfort east 140 miles.”  The railroad would pay the construction company in first mortgage bonds.  These talks also failed.

Railroad cut on far hill, across from Fort Hill and Penitentiary Creek valley, Frankfort, circa 1889   < Capital City Museum>

By the end of September 1888, the right of way was graded and completed between Frankfort and Georgetown.  The masonry abutments, culverts and trestles were also finished.  Over 600 hands were still on the line.  It was reported that laying the rails would “commence this week” and “cars running by middle October <1888>.”[xviii]

Another view of Bridge No. 2, the trestle was later back filled, circa 1889    < Capital City Museum>

Financial Problems:

However, the track laying was postponed and the workers laid off.  The supplier of the steel rails and timber ties required that both items be pay in cash before they would be released to the railroad.  At this point, the railroad was experiencing cash flow problems, with an estimated $300,000 due to the contractors.

The railroad had anticipated selling mortgage bonds to finance continued construction, but apparently, their efforts were unsuccessfully.  In addition, another part of the problem was that the subscriptions of Franklin and Scott Counties were payable after the railroad reached Georgetown.[xix]

The total estimate for the cost to build and equip the line from Frankfort to Paris was $700,000.  The company had potential resources of $470,000 from the sale of stock and subscriptions.  This however left a shortfall of $230,000[7].

During the November 1888, the board discussed the formation of an affiliated construction company to secure additional funds.  This company would fund the shortfall and receive mortgage bonds as payment.  Even with their financial problems, the company publically reported that they “expected to put thirty additional miles <to Owingsville> under contract by September 1889 and have the entire line completed and in operation by January 1, 1891.  A branch line from North Middletown to the line of the Kentucky Union Railroad was also projected.”  The directors also indicated that Joseph H. Robinson, acting as their agent, was securing the right-of-way to run another branch of the road from Frankfort to Lexington.[xx]

Home Construction Company:       

The Home Construction Company was quickly established during December 1888, with James E. Cantrill[8] (President), E. L. Samuel (Treasurer) and William F. Dandridge (Secretary).  The company was capitalized with $200,000.  The primary stockholders were Mason, Gooch & Hoge Company ($100,000), Mason & Foard Company ($10,000), William Lindsay ($5,500), E. L. Samuel ($5,000), Fayette Hewitt ($5,000), H. D. Fitch ($5,000), James L. Gaines ($5,000), John T. Buckley ($5,000), John F. Foard ($5,000), William M. Duncan ($5,000) and William Morrow ($5,000).xxi]

During that month, the railroad and their construction company executed a contract to build the line from Georgetown to Paris.  This work was subcontracted to the Mason, Gooch & Hoge Company.  The subcontractor was paid with the $200,000 in capitalization of the construction company.  The construction company would receive approximately $750,000 in railroad bonds for payment to cover the $230,000 shortfall.  However, when the line was finished the costs had risen to $850,000, leaving another $150,000 due to the subcontractor.  When the line was completed, the construction company stockholders could sell the bonds and then pocket the profits.  This was common practice to inflate the construction costs.[xxii]

Worker’s excavating cut, bridge was for Stedmantown (now Shenkel) Lane, near Frankfort, circa 1889   < Capital City Museum>

On March 2, 1889, Congress approved “An act to authorize the construction of bridges across the Kentucky River” which “authorized <the Kentucky Midland Railway> to construct and maintain a bridge, and approaches thereto, over the Kentucky River, in the State of Kentucky, and also a bridge or bridges over the tributaries or folks of said river at such point or points as said company may deep suitable for the passage of its said road over said river or its tributaries or forks.”  The railroad was required to submit plans to the Corps of Engineers, for the Secretary of War’s approval.  In addition, any bridge built was required to be available for the transportation of the U. S. Mail.[xxiii]

In addition, the construction company had an option, which expires May 1, 1889, to “construction and equip the road east of Paris, through Bourbon and Bath counties <into the coal fields of the Licking Valley>, upon terms quite favorable to the railway company.”   The contract also specified the “running of cars from Frankfort to Georgetown by June 1 next and to Paris by November 15 next.”[xxiv]

Elkhorn Trestle carried the railroad across what is now the Thornhill Connector and Indian Hills, circa 1889  < Capital City Museum>

The 1888 Report of the Railroad Commission of Kentucky indicated that:

“The work on this road from Frankfort to Paris, a distance of forty miles, is being pushed with great energy; 1,500 men are now actively engaged upon it.  The following memorandum of the progress of this road has been kindly furnished us by Hon. Wm. Lindsay, its President.”

“The work of graduation and masonry on the Kentucky Midland Railway is well advanced between Frankfort and Georgetown and considerable work has been done between Georgetown and Paris.  It is an assured fact that the road will be open for business between Frankfort and Georgetown by the first of July, 1889, and to Paris by the first of the following December.”[xxv]

In January 1889, the first spike was driven and the section gang began laying the track.[xxvi]

In April 1889, a trestle over McCracken Creek, about two miles from Georgetown, collapsed while being tested with an engine and flat cars loaded with iron.  The rails fell on David Franks, a 14 year boy watching, and crushed him.[xxvii]

Silver Spike:

On June 1, 1889 the final spike was driven into the line near the Forks of the Elkhorn.  Early that morning before the ceremony, a small delegation from Georgetown and Stamping Ground rode over on a work train carrying ties to the unfinished portion.  This party included James E. Cantrill, W. R. Blackwell (Southern agent at Georgetown), J. M. Penn, John G. Cole, J. W. Jameson, John A. Bell and Tyse C. Bell of Georgetown and J. N. Riley, Larne Coleman, James McDonald, C. C. Lewis and Herman Reynolds of Stamping Ground.  The passenger rode in an open flat car with temporary seating.  The train was pulled by the locomotive Judge Lindsay, with R. S. Gayle the engineer, which worked the Georgetown end of the line.  On the other side of the unfinished portion, the passengers were pickup by a special train which carried them into Frankfort.

At 3:00 pm, another special train left Frankfort with two passenger cars, one combination car and two flat cars, pulled by the locomotive General Lindsey.  The train carried about 150 passengers.  A brass coronet band on a flat car provided the entertainment.  At the Forks of the Elkhorn, the train was met with another 500 people who had come to watch the ceremony.

After the customary speeches, Katie Lindsey drove the last spike, which was made of silver.  She was the young daughter of Daniel W. Lindsey.  The train was then reloaded to overflow capacity and made the run into Georgetown.  Reaching the Georgetown depot at around 5:00 pm, another reception and round of speeches were made to mark the occasion.  The train made the return trip, later that night, where the passengers in the open cars were drenched by rain.  Before leaving Georgetown, the wife of William Lindsay opened a bottle of “rare old wine” to toast the occasion.  The first glass was poured on the track.[xxviii]

The section was placed in operations on June 15, 1889.[xxix]  The first accident occurred the next day, when an engine and flat car derailed at the McConnell’s Run trestle.  The only loss was a barrel of Buffalo Springs whiskey.[xxx]

In July 1889, work was completed to Newtown, six miles east of Georgetown.  In August 1889, heavy rain delayed the grading and excavation work around Paris, with three large cuts unfinished.[xxxi]

In August 1889, the Kentucky Midland received a contract to deliver the mail for the post office.  The railroad established post officers at Forks of Elkhorn, Switzer and Stamping Ground.  Wingate Thompson of the U. S. Express Company was acting mail clerk for the railroad.  For the next sixty years, the railroad continued to deliver the mail[9] along its right-of-way.[xxxii]

During September 1889, two workers were killed near Paris, by a premature discharge of black powder.[xxxiii]  In October 1889, the construction company began laying rails from Georgetown to Paris.[xxxiv]

By the middle of December 1889, the track was finished to Paris.  However, frequent rains had left the roadbed in poor condition, which delayed the opening of the division until repairs were completed.[xxxv]

Golden Spike:

On January 2, 1890, the last spike was driven at Paris which completed the Kentucky Midland Railway.  From Frankfort at 8:45 pm, a special train was dispatched with the officers of the railroad and invited guests, including the county magistrates.  After picking up delegations of prominent citizens from Stamping Ground and Georgetown, the train was met at Centerville by the Paris delegation for the run into Paris.  The train stopped just before the Maysville & Lexington Turnpike, near the fairgrounds.  The track across the turnpike to the Kentucky Central yard was not finished.

The train was met by a large crowd, which then rode and marched to the courthouse.  Following remakes by William Lindsay, James E. Cantrill and Captain John M. Thomas, the final spike was driven by Minnie Roche, a young girl from Paris.  The spike was made of gold.[xxxvi]

This segment was placed in operation during February 1890.[xxxvii]  Along the right-of-way, the Postal Telegraph Company[10] strung two sets of wires.  The first wire was used for general telegraph messages and the second wire was used by the railroad to dispatch trains.[xxxviii]   In addition, the company contracted with the Adams Express Company[11] to handle express shipments across the country.

The company was capitalized at $1,872,000; consisting of preferred stock of $220,000, common stock of $690,000 and bonds of $962,000[12].  This represents an average of $46,800 per mile.  The reported costs were $850,000, or $21,250 per mile.  However, the assessed value of the line was $403,250; consisting of 40 miles of track at $10,000 per mile and other assets at $3,250. [xxxix]

At the time, the company also operated two locomotives (Nos. 1 and 2 - $7,500 each), one passenger coach (No. 1), one consolidation coach (No. 50), five stock cars (Nos. 1000 to 1004), nine box cars (Nos. 500 to 502 and 504 to 509), twelve flat cars (Nos. 1500 to 1511) and one caboose.  Total cost $25,590.[xl]

Locomotive No. 2 near Georgetown, circa 1900, this locomotive was an American (4-4-0) class original purchased by the Kentucky Midland in 1889    <Bogart>

Railroad Operations:

In October 1890, the company finalized a traffic agreement with the Louisville Southern, where Louisville traffic between both lines was transferred at Georgetown.  The Louisville Southern was under the control of the East Tennessee, Virginia and Georgia Railway[13] System. This provided Frankfort a competing line to Louisville.  The junction of the railroads was on the west side of the Southern Depot, with a single track. Previously, the Louisville Southern had surveyed a branch line from Shelbyville to Frankfort, connecting with the Kentucky Midland.  It was also reported “the Midland is not a financial success.”[xli]

In July 1892, the railroad surveyed a direct connection to the Louisville Southern at Alton, northwest of Lawrenceburg.  The route ran south along Benson Creek to Benson Station, on the Louisville & Nashville, and then down the north side of Benson valley, through Bellepoint, cross the river near the point of Fort Hill, run along the base of the hill and connected with the Kentucky Midland in the rear of the Penitentiary.  In addition, the surveyors reviewed a branch line from North Middletown to the Chesapeake & Ohio at Mt. Sterling.[xlii]

The passenger timetable included two round trips and two partial trips each day.  These runs were:

The morning passenger run Train No. 1 left Frankfort at 6:00 am, arriving at Georgetown at 6:52 am and Paris at 7:37 am.  The return run Train No. 2 left Paris at 8:00 am, arriving at Georgetown at 8:41 am and Frankfort at 9:33 am.

The late afternoon passenger run Train No. 3 left Frankfort at 4:00 pm, arriving at Georgetown at 4:52 pm and Paris at 5:40 pm.  The return run Train No. 4 left Paris at 5:55 pm, arriving at Georgetown at 6:37 pm and Frankfort at 7:30 pm.

The early afternoon passenger run Train No. 7 left Frankfort at 1:00 pm, arriving at Georgetown at 2:35 pm and Paris 4:05 pm.  The return run Train No. 12 left Paris at 4:45 pm and arrived at Georgetown at 5:55 pm (where it met the afternoon train on the Southern Railway).

The early morning passenger run Train No 8 from Georgetown at 6:52 pm and arrived at Frankfort at 8:30 pm.[xliii]

In March 1891, the Annual Stockholder’s meeting was held in the Frankfort City Council chamber.  The board of directors was reelected and President Lindsay presented the annual report.

In July 1891, it was reported that “the directors have made a deal with Capt. Anderson, a large contractor of Chicago, in which he is to push the road to Salt Lick Station as speedily as possible.”[xliv]

In August 1891, a group of capitalist inspected the Kentucky Midland and reviewed the route of the proposed extension to the Licking River.  This group included William Anderson of Chicago, D. W. H. Jones of Philadelphia, N. R. Olcott of Paducah, J. W. Friscoe and R. F. Johnson of Paris, Tennessee.  Olcott and Friscoe were associated with Johnson Bros. & Faught, a large construction company from St. Louis.  It was indicated that they “will take hold of the Midland enterprise and push it through to completion.”  [xlv]

In August 1891, another rumor of a deal with E. P. Reynolds, of Chicago and New York, the largest and most responsible railroad-buildering firm in the county, to complete the Kentucky Midland Railroad from this city to Salt Lick . . . . by January 1st, 1892.  The Frankfort newspaper reported:

“Our brethren of the press in Paris build the extension of the Kentucky Midland or sell the road every day or two, unfortunately their deal do not stick.”[xlvi]

In September 1891, the railroad proposed the Montgomery County subscribed $125,000 to extend the line from North Middletown to Mt. Sterling.”  The county magistrates refused to consider the proposal.[xlvii]

In December 1891, the railroad moved to a new station in Frankfort on Broadway, from the temporary station on Clinton Street.  The new station was the old Conery residence, converted into waiting rooms and ticket office, with a baggage and express room built behind the house.  In addition, a new platform was built from Clinton Street to the new station.[xlviii]

In 1892, the Railroad Commission reported:

“The Kentucky Midland’s talked-of extension from Frankfort along the Kentucky river to a connection with the Louisville Southern, a distance of ten miles, is also mentioned as among the prospectus.  This would give Frankfort another line to Louisville.  This road has also survey fifty miles from Paris into Morgan county, passing through Owingsville.” [xlix]

In addition, in 1892, the company owned two locomotives ($6,000), one passenger car ($1,500), two Combination cars ($1,500), one caboose ($200), eight closed freight cars ($1,600), twelve flat cars ($1,200) and four stock cars ($600).  The total value was $12,600.  During the year ending June 30, 1892, the company carried 68,988 passengers and had 66 employees. [l]

During December 1892, control of the railroad was effectively turned over to bondholders, with Horatio P. Mason and Charles E. Hoge appointed as operating agents.  They were assisted by William F. Dandridge, who became the railroad’s secretary.[li]

On July 26, 1894, the city of Frankfort forced the closing of the line in the city, due to a tax dispute.  The city assessed taxes of $14,000 on the railroad.  The line remained closed for a week before the matter was settled.[lii]

During October 1894, Milton H. Smith of the Louisville & Nashville and Samuel Spencer of the Southern discussed “cooperation between the two systems.”  A secret meeting was held in a private railcar at Kennesaw, Georgia.  Smith considered that both the Kentucky Midland and Richmond, Nicholasville, Irvine & Beattyville Railroads were “irritants.”  Smith also want Spencer “not to acquire them and to discourage anyone else from being interested in them.”[liii]

In 1894, the company built an interlocking signal tower and switches at Georgetown for $2,000.  Their trains were required to come to a full stop before crossing the track of the Cincinnati Southern Railway, at a distance not exceeding 200 feet from the same. [liv]

During the first full year of operations, the Kentucky Midland operated at an undisclosed loss on revenues of $58,869 in 1891.  Over the next two years, the railroad’s revenues increased to $63,384 and $67,614 in 1892 and 1893, respectively.  Operating earnings rose to $13,537 and $11,622 during the same period.  During 1892, freight and passenger traffic represented 56 and 34 percent, respectively, while express, mail and other services totaled 10 percent.  By 1894, revenues had declined to $57,138, with an operating profit of $3,253.

However, by the time the line was finished, the annual “fixed charges” were $57,720 to cover interest on bonds and $5,500 for dividends on preferred stock.

Railroad Pass, 1895


In October 1894, the company was forced into a receivership by its bondholders.  These bonds were owned primarily by the contractors who build the line.  The railroad’s operating profits never reached a level that covered it fixed charges.  George B. Harper, the line’s General Superintendent, was appointed receiver.[lv]

The railroad was unsuccessfully offered for sale on September 2, 1895, with a reserve or upset price of $320,000.  Again, on December 2, 1895, another unsuccessful public auction was held with a reduced upset price.  One rumored purchaser was C. P. Huntington, who was trying to establish a transcontinental railroad.[lvi]

During the receivership, the county entered a deep recession known as the Panic of 1893.  This recession last roughly five years.  During the three years in receivership, the company’s gross revenues averaged $55,900 for 1895 to 1897.  Operating profit remained marginal, with operating profits were $3,250, $3,100 and $700.  During 1897, freight traffic accounted for 63 percent of revenue, while passenger traffic accounted 31 percent and express accounted percent of revenue.

On January 4, 1897, the company was finally sold at foreclosure without a reserve.  The railroad was purchased by Attila Cox, representing the first mortgage bond holders, for $150,000.[lvii]


[1] In 1907, a second Kentucky Midland Railroad Company built a line between Muhlenberg and Hopkins Counties.  In 1922, the company was acquired by the Illinois Central Railroad.  The line later became part of the Louisville & Paducah Railroad and was abandoned in 1998.

[2] Cannel coal could be converted into liquid fuel, municipal gas or distilled into chemicals.  Cannel sold for three to twenty times bituminous coal depending on quality.  At the Columbian Exposition and World Fair at Chicago in 1893, Kentucky displayed a huge cannel coal arch, modeled after the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.  Eventually cheaper hydrocarbons replaced cannel coal.

[3] Dividends on the preferred stock carried a $2.50 addition over the common stock.  In addition, the preferred stockholders also received bonds equal to $110 per $100 in preferred stock in 15 months or completion of the line to Georgetown.  The preferred stock was superior to the common stock in liquidation.

[4] Around Stamping Ground, the railroad followed portions of the old Alanant-O-Wamiowee (Warrior) Trail.  The trail followed the Licking River valley through Northern Kentucky, then into the blue grass.

[5] Mason, Gooch & Hoge was a partnership set up for the contract on the Kentucky Midland.  The primary partners were Horatio P. Mason, Silas B. Mason and Charles E. Hoge.  S. D. Gooch and John J. King were junior partners.  William F. Dandridge was the firm’s Secretary and Treasurer.

Mason & Hoge Company was one of the largest railroad construction firms in the East.  Through various partnerships they built large portions of the Chesapeake & Ohio, Louisville & Nashville, Baltimore & Ohio and Southern Railroad.  In Kentucky, they built portions of the Kentucky Central, Kentucky Union and Kentucky Midland Railroads.  Some of their larger non-railroad projects were the Chicago Drainage Canal, Philadelphia Waterworks, New York City Aqueducts and the New York Subway System.

Horatio P. Mason, and his younger brother Silas B. Mason, were sons of Claiborne Mason, a pioneer railroad builder of Virginia.  Hoge was a partner of their father (in his later years).  Hoge was also a founder of the State National Bank of Frankfort (he was its cashier), Capital Trust Company of Frankfort and Commonwealth Life Insurance Company of Louisville.  In these ventures he was joined by the Mason brothers and William F. Dandridge.

[6] Mason & Foard Company operated as the excavating contractor for Mason, Gooch & Hoge Company.  Mason & Foard leased inmates from the state penitentiary.  The firm consisted of Horatio P. Mason, Silas B. Mason, John F. Foard, S. D. Gooch, William F. Dandridge, William Morrow, William M. Duncan, Charles E. Hoge and John J. King.  In 1888, the firm built the Eddyville Prison for $146,730.  Later, the firm operated a shoe and chair factory in the penitentiary.

[7] These “costs” were eventually over budget by $150,000, totaling $850,000.  This overrun increased the financial problems.

[8] Cantrill was born during 1839 in Bourbon County, Kentucky.  During the Civil War, he was a captain with John H. Morgan’s Raiders.  Between 1879 and 1883, he was the Lieutenant Governor of Kentucky.  Later he was a county judge.

[9] Railway Post Office (RPO) was a service where the mail was sorted enroute in a special compartment or railcar.  The RPO cars were staffed with post office employees.  The cancelation stamp was “Paris & Frankfort RPO.”

[10] Their contract specified that the railroad received all revenue from local telegraph messages, 25 percent of all through messages and $500 per annum in credit for railroad messages.

[11] Their contract specified that the railroad received half the revenues on shipments originating, less $40 per month for expenses and half the wages of a messenger.

[12] The company was authorized to issue $25,000 in First Mortgage Bearer Bonds for every mile of track.  The total funded debt authorized was $5,000,000, of which the company issued $962,000.  The bonds were dated August 1, 1888 and issued for thirty years, due on July 30, 1918.  The interest rate was six percent per annum, payable in February and August at the railroad’s offices in Frankfort.  The bonds were issued in $1,000 domination, with Central Trust Company of New York as trustee.

The bonds were issued to the Preferred Stockholders ($242,000 total, organizers $77,000, Frankfort $110,000 and Paris $55,000) and Home Construction Company ($720,000).

[13] The East Tennessee, Virginia and Georgia Railroad was formed in 1869, when the Tennessee & Virginia and East Tennessee & Georgia Railroads.  The railroad expanded into Kentucky, attempting to reach Louisville, eventually leasing the Louisville Southern Railway and the Richmond, Nicholasville, Irvine & Beattyville Railroad.  In 1894, the company consolidated with the Richmond & Danville Railroad to establish the Southern Railway.


[i] Railroad Cases, Volume 64, pages 580-588 and Southwestern Reporter, Volume 138, pages 291-297.

[ii] Report of the Kentucky Railroad Commission, Frankfort, 1892 and Poor’s Manual of the Railroad, 1898, page 1032.

[iii] McChesney, F. L., The Kentucky Midland Railway Company – Its Resources and Prospects, Frankfort, 1888, pages 2-7.

[iv] Newspaper Clipping, Kentucky Midland Railroad Company Records, 1888-1921, Kentucky Historical Society, Frankfort.

[v] William Lindsay Memorandum, date November 15, 1888 and 1889, Kentucky Midland Railroad Company Records, 1888-1921, Kentucky Historical Society, Frankfort and Kentucky Historical Society, “Local Aid to Railroads in Central Kentucky,” January 1964, Register, Volume 62, page 21-22.

[vi] Kentucky Historical Society, “Local Aid to Railroads in Central Kentucky,” January 1964, Register, Volume 62, page 21-22.

[vii] Kentucky Historical Society, “Local Aid to Railroads in Central Kentucky,” January 1964, Register, Volume 62, page 21-22.

[viii] Kentucky Historical Society, “Local Aid to Railroads in Central Kentucky,” January 1964, Register, Volume 62, page 21-22.

[ix] Kentucky Historical Society, “Local Aid to Railroads in Central Kentucky,” January 1964, Register, Volume 62, page 21-22, Ghost Railroad, page 225, Railroad Cases, Volume 64, pages 580-588 and Southwestern Reporter, Volume 138, pages 291-297.

[x] Maysville Evening Bulletin, December 6, 1889, page 3, column 3.

[xi] Estimates Cost, Kentucky Midland Railroad Company Records, 1888-1921, Kentucky Historical Society, Frankfort.

[xii] The Engineering and Building Record, New York, 1889, pages 22-23.

[xiii] Maysville Evening Bulletin, July 5, 1888, page 2, column 1 and Kentucky Midland Railroad Company Records, 1888-1921, Kentucky Historical Society, Frankfort.

[xiv] Maysville Evening Bulletin, July 5, 1888, page 2, column 1.

[xv] Maysville Evening Bulletin, August 20, 1888, page 3, column 1.

[xvi] J. M. Thomas Letter, dated October 6,1888, Kentucky Midland Railroad Company Records, 1888-1921, Kentucky Historical Society, Frankfort and Forty Miles, page 32.

[xvii] Engineering News, October 20, 1888, page 315.

[xviii] Georgetown Times, September 26, 1888, page 3, column 2.

[xix] Railroad Cases, Volume 64, pages 580-588, Southwestern Reporter, Volume 138, pages 291-297 and Kentucky Midland Railroad Company Records, 1888-1921, Kentucky Historical Society, Frankfort.

[xx] Maysville Evening Bulletin, November 21, 1888, page 3, column 1 and Poor’s Manual of the Railroad, 1898, page 1032.

[xxi] Mason, Gooch & Hoge Company letters, December 4, and December 17, 1888, Kentucky Midland Railroad Company Records, 1888-1921, Kentucky Historical Society, Frankfort.

[xxii] William Lindsay Memorandum, date November 15, 1888 and 1889, Kentucky Midland Railroad Company Records, 1888-1921, Kentucky Historical Society, Frankfort.

[xxiii] Chief of Engineers, US Army, Laws Affecting Corps of Engineers, Government Printing Office, 1889, pages 438-439.

[xxiv] Kentucky Historical Society, “Local Aid to Railroads in Central Kentucky,” January 1964, Register, Volume 62, page 21-22 and Maysville Evening Bulletin, December 14, 1888, page 3, column 1..

[xxv] Report of the Railroad Commission of Kentucky, 1888, page 26.

[xxvi] Maysville Evening Bulletin, January 7, 1889, page 1, column 1.

[xxvii] Maysville Evening Bulletin, April 20, 1889, page 1, column 3.

[xxviii] Georgetown Times, June 5, 1889, page 3, columns 4-6.

[xxix] Sulzer, Elmer G., Ghost Railroad of Kentucky, Indiana University Press, 1967, page 225 and L&N Consolidated Annual Reports, pages 139-140.

[xxx] Forty Miles, page 30.

[xxxi] Maysville Evening Bulletin, October 2, 1889, page 3, column 2.

[xxxii] Newspaper clipping in Charles H. Bogart’s Collection, Frankfort, Kentucky.

[xxxiii] Maysville Evening Bulletin, September 26, 1889, page 3, column 1.

[xxxiv] Maysville Evening Bulletin, October 2, 1889, page 3, column 2.

[xxxv] Georgetown Times, December 11, 1889, page 3, column 4 and December 18, 1889, page 3, column 3.

[xxxvi]The Kentuckian Citizens, Paris, January 4, 1890, page 3, column 4, Georgetown Times, January 8, 1890, page 3, column 4 and newspaper clipping in Charles H. Bogart’s Collection, Frankfort, Kentucky.

[xxxvii] Commercial and Financial Chronicle, William B. Dana & Co., New York, May 1888, page 678 and Railroad Commission, 1890, pages 207-209.

[xxxviii] Forty Miles, page 34.

[xxxix] Report of the Kentucky Railroad Commission, Frankfort, 1892 and Kentucky Midland Railroad Company Records, 1888-1921, Kentucky Historical Society, Frankfort.

[xl] Poor’s Manual of the Railroad, 1898, page 1032, Railroad Cases, Volume *, pages 348 to 354 and Kentucky Midland Railroad Company Records, 1888-1921, Kentucky Historical Society, Frankfort.

[xli] Maysville Evening Bulletin, July 26, 1889, page 2, column 3, Frankfort Roundabout, October 18, 1890, page 2, column 2, October 25, 1890, page 4, column 3 and July 2, 1892, page 5, column 2 and Sanborn Map, Georgetown, 1890 and 1895.

[xlii] Frankfort Roundabout, October 18, 1890, page 2, column 2 and July 2, 1892, page 5, column 2.

[xliii] Timetable, October 31, 1892 and December 19, 1892.      

[xliv] Frankfort  Roundabout, July 25, 1891, page 4, column 2.

[xlv] Frankfort Roundabout, August 22, 1891, page 1, column 1.

[xlvi] Frankfort  Roundabout, August 29, 1891, page 4, column 2.

[xlvii] Frankfort  Roundabout, September 19, 1891, page 7, column 2.

[xlviii] Frankfort Roundabout, December 5, 1891, page 1, column 1.

[xlix] Report of the Kentucky Railroad Commission, Frankfort, 1892.

[l] Report of the Kentucky Railroad Commission, Frankfort, 1892.

[li] Timetable, October 31, 1892 and December 19, 1892.

[lii] New York Times, August 4, 1894.

[liii] Buccola, Charles, “The Kentucky River Route,” L&N Magazine, June 2012, page 6.

[liv] Report of the Kentucky Railroad Commission, Frankfort, 1894.

[lv] Bourbon News, January 5, 1897, page 5, column 2, Ghost Railroad, page 225, Railroad Cases, Volume 64, pages 580-588 and Southwestern Reporter, Volume 138, pages 291-297.

[lvi] Maysville Evening Bulletin, May 4, 1895, page 3, column 2.

[lvii] New York Times, January 5, 1897.

Charles H. Bogart & William M. Ambrose, The Whiskey Route, Yellow Sparks Press, Frankfort and Limestone Press, Lexington, 2012.