Lexington & Ohio Railroad

Reached Lexington:  1832

Route:  Lexington to Frankfort (via Midway)

Corporate Names:

Lexington & Ohio (1830 - 1838)

Phillip Swigert & Company (1838 – 1843)

McKee & Swigert (1843 – 1848)

Lexington & Frankfort (1848 - 1857)

Louisville, Frankfort & Lexington (1857 – 1869)

Louisville, Cincinnati & Lexington (1869 – 1881)

Louisville & Nashville (1881 – 1983)

Seaboard System (1983 – 1986)

CSX Transportation (1986 – 2003)

R J Corman (2003 – Present)

The Kentucky Legislature chartered the first railroad[1] in the state (and west of the Allegheny Mountains) on January 27, 1830, as the Lexington & Ohio Rail Road Company.  The charter authorized the company to build a railroad “from the town of Lexington to some one or more suitable points on the Ohio River.”

The charter created a Board of Commissioners to oversee the subscription of stock and organization of the company.  The appointed commissioners were George Boswell, Joseph Boswell, Thomas E. Boswell, John Brand, Leslie Combs, Robert Frazer, Benjamin Gratz, Richard Higgins, John W. Hunt, Madison C. Johnson, David Megowan, John Norton, Henry C. Payne, Luther Stephens, Benjamin Taylor, Elisha Warfield, James Weir, Robert Wickliffe and Elisha I. Winter.[i]  All the commissioners were from Lexington, most were attorneys or prominent merchants.

The company was authorized to raise one million dollars in capital, divided into 10,000 shares with a par value of $100.  The charter specified that, after notice, the subscription book was to be opened for five successive days from 10 o’clock am to 2 o’clock pm.  Once a minimum of $300,000 was raised, “the Company” would be organized by a meeting of the subscribers.[ii]

The commissioners opened the subscription book for common stock in Lexington at Brennan’s Tavern[2] on Monday, February 8, 1830.  During the first two days, $204,000 and $106,800 respectively, was subscribed.  By Friday, at 2 o’clock pm a total of $792,000[3] was pledged.

The newspaper reported “these liberal subscriptions by persons who have carefully investigated the subject afford conclusive proof that they considered the project not only a feasible one, but one that offers to the Capitalist an opportunity for a profitable investment of funds.”  In addition, the “stock will yield a dividend of more than 8 per cent . . . (with the) price of transport . . . 50 per cent below the rate allowed by the charter.”[iii]  Before the books were finally closed in March, a total of $932,900 was subscribed.[iv]

The charter specified that the subscriber would pay “sum of one dollar on every share . . . either in money, or a note negotiable and payable at some bank.”  Then the “residue thereof shall be paid in such instalments, and at such times as may be required.”  The company could call for payments after “at least thirty days public notice . . . nor shall more than twenty-five per cent of each share of stock be called for in any one year.”  In the event a stockholder failed to pay an installment on time, his stock would be forfeited to the company.

The charter also required “stockholders to designate the route and the point of junction with the Ohio.”  There were three practicable terminals available – west toward Louisville (by way of Frankfort), north toward Cincinnati (by way of Georgetown) and east toward Maysville (by way of Paris).[v]  Since the Ohio River was not passable at the Falls of the Ohio, near Louisville, the last two options required drayage[4] at Louisville.  The stockholders selected Portland[5] to be the western terminal of the railroad.

On March 6, 1830, the company was organized at a meeting of the subscribers.  This meeting selected the company’s directors[6], which were Elisha I. Winter, George Boswell, John Brand, Joseph Bruen, Benjamin W. Dudley, Walter Dunn, Benjamin Gratz, Richard Higgins, John W. Hunt, Henry C. Payne, Luther Stephens and Elisha Warfield.[vi]

On March 9, 1830, the directors met and appointed Elisha I. Winter President and Thomas Smith Treasurer.  Winter was a former Member of Congress from New York.  He moved to Lexington around 1815, where he acquired a sizable farm.  Smith was the editor of an influential newspaper, The Reporter, in Lexington.  The company sent Winter to Baltimore to examine the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad and hire an experienced railroad engineer.  Winter hired H. J. Rainey as Chief Engineer, at an annual salary of $1,200.  Rainey worked previously for the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad.

On March 16, 1830, the directors approved expenditures for a preliminary topographical survey.[vii]

During March 1830, local composer Thomas Abbell performed The Lexington Railway to a special audience at the Lexington Theater.  Highlights of the song included:

A coach that was drawn, not by horses, but steam,

The cast iron has proven the philosopher’s stone,

That the true road to riches lies on the railway,

And out of cast iron, coin gold by the ton, (and)

For steam will transform all your cattle to gold.[viii]

In April 1830, Thomas J. Matthews, a Professor at Transylvania University began the preliminary survey.[ix]  An overriding concern was the cost associated with changes in elevations over the rocky terrain.  The elevations between Lexington and Frankfort dropped 460 feet (including a 240 foot bluff at Frankfort).  This terrain required excavations of cuts through limestone ridges, rock fill to level the roadbed, several trestles and an incline plane at Frankfort.

In May 1830, the first stockholder’s meeting was held in Lexington.  John W. Hunt was replaced on the board by his son, Charlton Hunt.[x]

In September 1830, Professor Matthews returned to his teaching duty and Engineers Kneas and McIlwain completed the survey of the Frankfort to Portland section.  The initial survey addressed:

The examinations of the route for the Rail Road from Lexington to the Ohio River has been made as far as Frankfort which exhibits the following results:

1.  There will be one Inclined Plane at Frankfort about 2200 feet long descending one foot in fourteen feet. All the residue of the road can be graded to thirty feet or less in a mile which is a fraction over one fifteenth of an inch raise in one foot.

2.  On that grade there will be no cut deeper than nineteen feet at the apex and but one of that depth.

3.  There will be no embankment over twenty feet high, no bridge over thirty feet high.

4.  The distance to Frankfort will not be increased two miles in length over the present traveled road.

5.  There will not be as much rock excavation in the grading as will be required to construct the road.

6.  On the thirty foot grade which has been tentatively adopted a single horse is capable of traveling with seven tons weight with as much ease as five horses can draw two tons on our present roads in their best condition. Hence it follows that one man and two horses can transport on the Railway as much weight in the same time as thirty-five horses and seven men on our present roads.[xi]

The estimated total cost from Lexington to Portland, a distance of 92.86 miles, was $1,000,000.[xii]

In April 1831, the stockholders met at the Fayette County Courthouse.  Henry Clay presided over the meeting.  President Winter reported on the plans for the company.  The stockholders authorized contracts for 15 miles of track, for $150,000 (7 miles from Lexington and 8 miles form Louisville[7]).  Stockholders representing more than six thousand shares were present. The City of Lexington had purchased twenty five shares at this point.  The stockholders also approved a $150,000 call on subscriptions.  After the meeting, the stockholders retired to Postlethwaite’s Tavern for dinner.[xiii]

The final surveyed route followed the Town Branch of the South Fork of Elkhorn Creek from Lexington, along the old Leestown wagon road, to past Lindsay’s Spring (renamed Villa Grove by the railroad).  Then overland through southern Scott County to Paynes Depot on the old Georgetown wagon road and into Woodford County, where a trestle was required over the South Fork of Elkhorn Creek (at the county line).  The route then curved again overland to the settlements of Spring Station and Duckers Station (both established trading posts).  Finally, the line crosses the junction of Leestown and Versailles turnpikes and along a ridge toward its terminal in Frankfort.  When possible, the route followed fence lines to avoid the cost of acquiring prime farm land.

The company first began excavations and grading of the right-of-way, divided into seven divisions corresponding to the planned stations.  The divisions were then subdivided into sections of approximately five hundred yards each.  The first division was six miles to Villa Grove.  After grading, the company let contracts for laying the track.

In May 1831, the stockholders held their second annual meeting.  Directors Dudley, Dunn, Payne and Winter resigned from the board and were replaced by Benjamin Cawthorn, George Keats, S. S. Nicholas and John S. Snead.  Winter remained President of the company.[xiv]

In August 1831, Winter estimated that the cost per mile to be $5,845 for materials and labor.  These costs included limestone sill (quarrying at 47½ cents, cutting and dressing at 43½ cents, hauling at 27½ cents, drilling holes at 7½ cents, “chambering” flange grove at 5 cents and laying sills at 37½ cents per foot).  Iron rails cost $57 per ton (or $969 per mile).  Spikes cost $88 per mile (10 cents per pound for 8 spikes).[xv]

In October 1831, the company contracted for 15 miles of track from Lexington and received the first iron rails, imported from Liverpool, by way of New Orleans.[xvi]

On October 22, 1831, the first rail was laid with a grand ceremony on Water Street, near the Lower Market House.[8]  The ceremony began with a parade by the fraternal, social and military organizations of Lexington, from Transylvania University to Water Street.  General Leslie Combs[9] on horseback was the Grand Marshal.  At Water Street, President Winter handed Governor Thomas Metcalfe a hammer to drive the first spike.  Then the Lexington Artillery Company fired a seven gun salute, while the band played Hail Columbia and Yankee Doodle.  Professor Charles Caldwell, of the Medical School, then delivered an oratory on “Internal Improvements.”[10]  He detailed the “advantages accruing to Lexington and the whole adjacent county from the establishment of this road.”  It was reported that the entire city attended.[xvii]

The flat iron (strips) rails were laid on limestone blocks, running parallel to the line.  The gauge[11] or distance between the tracks was 4 feet, 8½ inches.  The company established a quarry on West Water Street[12] for the limestone sills.  Rails were then affixed to the sills with iron spikes driven into wooden dowels. [xviii]  It was believed at the time that these rails were indestructible.

In January 1832, the company advertised for 200 hands, for “liberal wages” paid monthly.[xix]  In May 1832, the company held the annual stockholder’s meeting at Postlethwaite’s Inn.  Winter was reelected President.  Directors Nicholas and Snead were replaced by Benjamin W. Dudley and John Postlethwaite.  Winter reported “the grading of the first division of six miles is nearly completed.  Part of the Iron Rails for the first division have arrived at Louisville from Liverpool by way of New Orleans, and the laying of the stone sills will be forthwith commenced.”[xx]

On March 16, 1832, the company published an appeal for more funds:

“To the Citizens of Lexington and Fayette County –

“Now is the time for every man, who is a man and will act like one, to come forward and put his shoulder to the wheel.  The Lexington and Ohio Rail Road can be finished to Frankfort before the 1st of November, 1832, if those who are able will do their duty and take stock, or increase their present subscriptions.  Not one should hang back and let his neighbors do for him what he ought to do for himself.  If he loves money, this is the way to improve his fortune: if he loves his country, this is the sure way to advance her power and glory.

“The work can be done and will be done in the time I have named if you are true to your best interests and will act promptly on this occasion.  No time is to be lost – Come all – Come quickly.  Let us have no more theorizing but in its stead, efficient action.”[xxi]

During June 1832, the company reported “laying the stone sills is rather a tedious operation.  Messrs. Holburn and Benson, who are the contractor for this branch of the work deserve great praise.”  Also during June 1832, the company let contracts for the grading of first 23 sections of the second division.  On July 31, 1832, the company ordered 420 tons of iron for $10,000 from England.[xxii]

On August 1, 1832, the Lexington & Ohio Rail Road completed the first mile and half of track.  The company began temporary operations with a horse-drawn coach car.  The line was formally opened on August 15, 1832 by Governor Metcalfe.  The first car left “its moorings (from the Lower Market House) at 12 o’clock, with about forty people aboard, among whom were Gov. Metcalfe and other distinguished persons.”  The car was an enlarged stage coach, fitted with iron wheels, horse-drawn and traveled at 10 mph.[xxiii]

In October 1832, the newspaper reported that two miles were opened and “car is drawn by one horse, and the trip is performed in 22 minutes, carrying from 30 to 40 passengers.”  It also was noted that a “great number of strangers (in town would) . . . ride . . . (the) novel and charming pastime.”[xxiv]  In December 1832, the company placed the final order for iron to be laid from Villa Grove to Frankfort.[xxv]

During 1832, the town trustees of Frankfort agreed to let the company build “without tax, let or hindrance.”[xxvi]

Proof copy of script for the Lexington & Ohio Rail Road, payable at the Northern Bank in Lexington

In January 1833, the company was experiencing a cash shortage as the cost of construction began to exceed the available funds.  Excavating through the limestone ridges proved significantly more difficult and costly that expected.  The railroad noted that “sufficient funds subscribed[13] for . . . (but the company’s) power to call (subscriptions) in installments” prevent the timely collections from stockholders and that “funds (are) not meeting demand.”  The company requested that the Legislature issue bonds to meet construction demands, which were to be repaid from the collections of subscriptions.[xxvii]

In February 1833, the Legislature approved the guaranty of $150,000 in bonds for the railroad.  These bonds were issued at six percent for five years and secured by a deed of trust on the railroad’s property.  The state had the option of converting these bonds into common stock at the end of five years.  At the April 30, 1833, the board approved the sale of these bonds and authorized President Winter to attempt their sale in New York.  In May 1833, these bonds were sold at a 7 percent premium.[xxviii]

Advertisement, January 1833

In January 1833, the line completed the first division of six and one quarter miles from Lexington to Villa Grove.  Two cars were run daily between the two points.  The railroad also chartered special trips for a party of twelve or more.

Advertisement, April 1833

In March 1833, the company began operating three trips per day.  A two-horse tandem team was used to pull the cars.[xxix]  The railroad built a pleasure resort at Villa Grove.  It contained a spring and amusement hall, with a bowling alley, billiards and refreshment (hard liquor) stand.  The resort was destroyed by fire in 1835.[xxx]

Schedule, April 1833

The railroad’s first locomotive was designed by Thomas H. Barlow[14] and built in the Joseph Bruen’s machine shop in Lexington.  In 1827, Barlow had invented a steam engine that operated on a small oval track.  As an amusement attraction, the engine pulled a car carrying two passengers (fare fifty cents each).  In 1832, he began design of a larger steam locomotive for the Lexington & Ohio.  On March 2, 1833, the locomotive entered operations, but lasted only 17 days.  This engine was under powered and proved impracticable.  The rigid frame on rigid tracks allowed the traction wheels to slip.  The railroad returned to horse power.[xxxi]

The locomotive was approximately four feet high and twelve feet long.  There was no cab and the tender was an open box car.  The wood fired boiler was located in the center, with a fanguard around the outside, with curved front and rear ends.  The steam engine had two overhead extended piston, one attached to each set of wheel sets.  The pistons were controlled by a walking beam rocker arm, which alternated power between the front and rear wheel sets.  The front end had two “hickory brooms attached for sweeping the tracks.” [xxxii]

The passenger cars were of an enlarged stage coach design, roughly twelve feet long, with additional bench seating on the roof.  The roof was reached by a ladder. The roof also had a canopy to protect the passengers from live cinders and coals escaping from the engine.[xxxiii]  However, the canopy proved to be a fire hazard.  The early trains were mixed freight and passenger.  Cars were connected with link and pin couplers. When crossing a farmer’s field, the engineer stopped at fence lines, so that the assistant engineer could to open and close the gates.  The engineer received pay of $22.50 per month.[xxxiv]

Artist Rendition of the first engine  <University of Kentucky>

 Artist Rendition of the first passenger cars   <University of Kentucky>

Replica of first locomotive, built by engineering students at the University of Kentucky for Lexington’s Sesqui Centennial in 1925, presented to Henry Ford Museum at Dearborn, Michigan (scrapped during World War II)  <Bluegrass Railroad Museum>

Replica of the coach    <Bluegrass Railroad Museum>

The line was constructed to the midway point by June 1833, a distance of fifteen miles.  The railroad created a station called Middleway, later Midway, at this location.[xxxv]  During the summer of 1833, cholera in surrounding town (especially Lexington) caused work to be suspended for six weeks.  In October 1833, the line was completed to Duckers Station, within 6 miles of Frankfort, for a total of 21 miles.[xxxvi]  The cost was $340,000 to date, with another $30,000 estimate to finish the line to Frankfort.[xxxvii]

On January 30, 1834, construction of the line was finished and the company began operating horse-drawn passenger cars.  Depending on the load, the trip required five sets of teams and ran from four to six hours.  The line was 28 miles long and terminated just outside of Frankfort.  The final hill into Frankfort was extremely steep.  The company planned on building an incline plane to lower the cars to Frankfort.  When the first train reached Frankfort it was met with an artillery salute.  That night, the company held a ball at the Weisiger House in Frankfort.  The next day, the stockholders held a celebration for members of the Legislature at the Phoenix Hotel.[xxxviii]

On October 29, 1834, Benjamin Gratz of Lexington was elected President.[xxxix]  Gratz[15] was an attorney, wealthily hemp manufacturer and director of both the Bank of Kentucky and Northern Bank of Kentucky.

On December 21, 1834, the stockholders of Lexington again held a grand ball at Brennan’s Tavern (later the Phoenix Hotel).[xl]

During January 1835, the company received two steam locomotives built by Bury & Stephenson, of England, named the Elkhorn and Nottoway[16].  They arrived in Frankfort on the steamboat Argus.  The first run by the Nottoway, on January 24, 1835, covered the 6¼ miles to the “villa” in 18½ minutes.[xli]  Unfortunately, the first fatal accident occurred on the return trip, when two cars derailed returning from Villa Grove.  The train consisted of the locomotive, two burden (freight) cars and a passenger car (painted yellow).  The train returned from Villa Grove in reverse order.

The newspaper reported “some of the passengers on the two burden cars attempted to jump, others . . . were thrown backwards and knocked off, those near the edge . . . under the wheels.”  One passenger died of his injuries.  The newspaper concluded that “if only passenger cars had been used or all had been drawn and not pushed, nothing serious would have been the consequence.”[xlii]  The newspaper also concluded that speed was also a factor (the train was traveling 12 to 15 miles per hour).  The same day, a young boy was also crushed to death while trying to jump onto the engine.[xliii]

In late January 1835, the first run by the steam locomotive from Lexington into Frankfort was completed, a total of 28 miles, in 2 hours 29 minutes, averaging twelve miles per hour.[xliv]

Original Stations





Villa Grove


Paynes Depot




Spring Station









In June 1835, Judge Fielding L. Turner was elected President to replace Gratz.  Like Gratz, he was a prominent attorney.[xlv]

In 1835, the company built a two-story brick combination passenger and freight station on Mill Street, between Water and Vine Streets.  The Lower Market House lease was terminated.  The new station was designed by John McMurtry.  During the 1850s a third story was added.  The station was used by the successors of the Lexington & Ohio Rail Road until 1959.[xlvi]

Original Station on Water Street at Vine and Mill, May 1908    <Coleman – Transylvania>

Depot on top of hill at Frankfort, circa 1900

In Frankfort, the company built a stone depot at the top of the incline plane.  This depot was sold after 1850, when the river route replaced the incline plane.  In addition, the company had a warehouse and wharf at the foot of Broadway, on the Kentucky River.  This was the transfer point to steamboats.[xlvii]

Schedule, October 1835

During the fall of 1835, the line into Frankfort was completed with the installation of the incline plane.  The plane, with a stationary engine and cables, was 4,000 feet in length, dropping 240 feet with an inclination of forty degrees.  Passengers were given the choice of the incline plane or a carriage for an additional 25 cents.  In an emergency, the railroad also used a team of six horses to transfer the cars.[xlviii]

During December 1835, four shares of common stock were sold at public auction for $101 per share.  This is the first recorded transaction in railroad securities in Kentucky.[xlix]

On March 16, 1836, a derailment near Frankfort caused the passenger cars to topple over an embankment.  Three passengers were killed.  The next month, another derailment occurred in Midway, with no loss of life.  The cause of these accidents was the deterioration of the limestone sills, due to the weight of the steam engines, which allowed the rails[17] to loosen.  In addition, the iron rails proved unsatisfactory, having a tendency to come loose and curve upward through the floor of the cars.  These loose rails were called “snakeheads.”  The company temporarily abandoned the steam engines and returned to horse power.

In June 1836, Thomas Smith replaced Judge Turner as President.[l]  During 1836, the company declared a four percent dividend for January, July and December.  In August 1836, the City of Louisville borrowed $200,000 from the Bank of Kentucky for the company to use in preparing and grading the Louisville to Frankfort right-of-way.[li]

By 1837, the company was out of cash and insolvent.  At the annual stockholder’s meeting, in May 1837, a committee was set up to investigate the financial conditions of the company.  The committee consisted of Judges Owsley and Robertson and Sylvester Welch.  The committee determined that the Treasurer, A. O. Newton, had incorrectly recorded as profit the stock forfeiture due to unpaid subscriptions.  In addition, he had misappropriated $13,251 from the company.[lii]

These problems caused the company the same year to default on its portion of the assessment for the bridge at Frankfort over the Kentucky River.  This assessment was for $53,574.15, of which the company could only pay $13,574.15.  The remaining $40,000 was raised in Louisville ($30,000 by the City of Louisville selling bonds and $10,000 from the Bank of Kentucky, which obtained a second mortgage).  The railroad had been unsuccessful in attempting to sell bonds to cover this shortfall.

Phillip Swigert & Company:

On January 18, 1838, the Lexington & Ohio line was leased to Phillip Swigert & Company for four years.  Swigert & Company consisted of Phillip Swigert, Jacob Swigert, Edward P. Johnson, Samuel P. Weisiger and John H. Hanna.  Swigert was a prominent stage coach operator from Frankfort.  The lease included the engines and rolling stock of the company, which were to be returned in similar conditions.   The partnership operated the railroad in conjunction with their stage lines, paying 50 cents per through passenger to Louisville.  Swigert received all freight and short run passenger fares.  By rail and stage, a passenger could reach Louisville from Lexington in just 11 hours.[liii]

On January 31, 1839 a serious wreck occurred on the Frankfort hill when a car broke free on the incline plane and crashed.  The newspaper reported that the passengers were “bruised and broken.”[liv]

In late 1839, the conditions of the line had deteriorated and required significant repairs and upgrades.  However, financial conditions caused the company to curtail these expenditures.  Around this point, the line ceased operating on a regular basis.[lv]

To this point, the Lexington to Frankfort line had cost $511,384.87 to build and operate.  This equates to $18,263.75 per mile.  The unfinished line from Frankfort to Louisville was 64 miles in length, of which 44 miles was graded.  The unfinished Louisville section had cost $411,642.77, or $6,491.92 per mile.[lvi]  Estimates to finish the line was $1,250,000, for a total of $2,180,000 or $23,069 per mile.[lvii]

Abraham Lincoln

William H. Townsend, noted Lincoln scholar, wrote an amusing story about Lincoln’s trip to Lexington to visit his wife’s family.  In October 1841, Joseph Humphreys (a cousin of Mary Todd Lincoln) rode the Lexington & Ohio from Frankfort to Lexington.  After arriving in Lexington, he walked to the Todd house on West Main Street and commented on the trip:

I was never so glad to get off a train in my life.  There were two lively youngsters on board who kept the whole train in a turmoil, and their long-legged father, instead of spanking the brats, looked pleases as Punch and sided with and abetted the older one in mischief”

The long-legged father was Abraham Lincoln and his two sons.[lviii]

McKee & Swigert:

Without any viable reorganization plan, the Legislature authorized the State Auditor to sell the railroad at public auction.  The company had failed to pay interest on the $150,000 in state bonds for the past two years.  The railroad was sold at public auction at Frankfort, on January 12, 1842, for $178,544.64 to the state.  This represented the principal and accrued interest on the bonds.  Over the next year, the state expended another $87,000 for improvements, including replacing the limestone sills with parallel cedar beams.  The state also purchased three new 2-4-0 locomotives, named the Daniel Boon, Joe Davis and Logan, from the Baldwin Locomotive Works of Philadelphia.  These locomotives were shipped disassembled by boat down the Ohio River to Maysville and then overland to Lexington.  The two old engines were scrapped.  These expenditures increased the cost to $19,573.35 per mile.[lix]

In March 1843, the state leased the railroad for seven years to the firm of McKee & Swigert, which consisted of William R. McKee and Phillip Swigert.  McKee was a West Point trained engineer.  The annual rental was $17,000 payable quarterly.

Notice, 1845

In March 1845, fares were calculated for freight at 2½ cents per mile per hundred weight and passengers at 4 cents per mile.  In addition, heavy freight fare, from Lexington to Louisville, was reduced to 20 cents per hundred weights.[lx]

In February 1848, the state assumed McKee’s portion of the partnership after his death[18].  The partnership was terminated in the fall of 1848, with the sale of the railroad to the Lexington & Frankfort Railroad Company.

[1] On February 3, 1828, the Lexington & Frankfort Turnpike or Rail Road Company was chartered to build “an artificial road by the best and nearest route from Lexington to Frankfort.”  The company had the right to build a railroad line along the route.  Among the organizers were John Brand, Benjamin Gratz, William Richardson and Elisha I. Winter of Lexington.  This charter was superseded by the Lexington & Ohio Rail Road Company in 1830.

[2] Brennan’s Tavern was leased from John Postlethwaite for a period during the early 1830s.  In 1800, Postlethwaite’s Tavern opened and quickly became the favorite meeting place in Lexington.  The tavern would later become the Phoenix Hotel and operated on the same site until the 1980s.

[3] Elisha I. Winter entered a subscription of $25,000 for Henry Clay, who was out of town at the time.  Later, Clay reduced his subscription claiming that he was overextended.  His reduced purchase was for 100 shares or $10,000.

[4] Transferring freight unloaded up river of the Falls and reloading downriver.

[5] Portland was a small village below the Falls downriver from Louisville.  Now incorporated into the City of Louisville, near Twelfth Street.

[6] Henry Clay was nominated to be a director, but declined due to pressing duties.

[7] A three-mile section of track was built at Portland.  This section operated as the Portland Division.  The right-of-way ran down Jefferson and Main Streets to 13th Street and ended at the levee at Portland Wharf.  In 1844, the state chartered the Louisville & Portland Railroad to assume the assets of the Portland Division.  The company was donated to the Kentucky Institution for the Education of the Blind in Louisville.  In 1853, the line became a horse drawn streetcar line.  The company closed after 1855.

[8] The Lower Market House was built in 1827, encompassing the city block between Broadway, Mill, Vine and Water Streets.  The building was 234 feet by 42 feet.  The city leased the property to the railroad as its depot for $200 per annum.

[9] General Leslie Combs was a commander (known as the boy-captain) during the War of 1812.  Later, he was a lawyer, legislator and State Auditor.  He was also involved in the Lexington & Ohio, Licking & Lexington, Maysville & Lexington and Lexington & Danville railroads.

[10] Later that week, Professor Caldwell gave a lecture on “The Moral and Incidental Influences of Railroads” at the Lexington Lyceum Theater.

[11] Railroad tracks in the United States were primarily built to three gauges – broad (5 feet), standard (4 feet 8½ inches) and narrow (3 feet).  Standard gauge was imported from England, its origins from the width of Roman chariots.  After the Civil War, most of the railroads converted to the standard gauge (except parts of the mountains in the west).

[12] John Holburn operated the quarry and sold the limestone sills to the company for 20 cents per foot (or $2,112 per mile).  Today, the site is the location of the Lexington Civic Center and Rupp Arena.

[13] As the railroad proved to be unprofitable, a number of stockholders failed to pay the remaining installments and forfeited their stock to the company.  Without these subscriptions, the railroad financial problems were compounded.

[14] Barlow was a natural genius and inventor.  Besides the locomotive, he designed a steamboat, the Barlow Planetarium and one of the first rifled cannons.  In addition, he and his bother, Leason H. Barlow, invented the famed Barlow knife.

[15] Gratz was an active railroad investor, being also involved with the Lexington & Frankfort Turnpike or Rail Road, Licking & Lexington, Lexington & Danville, Maysville & Lexington and Lexington Owingsville & Bowlinggreen Railroad Companies.

[16] The company faced numerous lawsuits and injunctions over the use of steam locomotives.  At one point, Louisville banned the “Elkhorn” from the Portland Division.

[17] The railroad converted the straight flanges on the wheels to slanted flanges.  Straight flanges tend to climb off the track in binds, while the slanted flanges slipped back onto the tracks.  Slanted flanges are now used on all modern railroads.

[18] In 1847, McKee was killed at the Battle of Buena Vista leading a regiment of Kentucky Volunteers.  “Young Henry Clay,” son of the Statesman, was also killed at the same battle.  A monument was erected in 1848 to Colonel McKee along the railroad at Midway.  In addition, the signal block just east of Midway is known as McKee.

[i] Kleber, John E. (Editor), The Kentucky Encyclopedia, University Press of Kentucky, Lexington, 1992, page 551, Coleman, J. Winston, The Squire’s Sketches of Lexington, Henry Clay Press, Lexington, 1972, page 36, Lexington Herald Leader, February 20, 1966, Clark, Thomas D., “The Lexington and Ohio Railroad – A Pioneer Venture,” The Register, Kentucky Historical Society, January 1933, page 9 - 28, Perrin, William H., History of Fayette County, Kentucky, O. L. Baskin & Co., Chicago, 1882, page 80 – 83, Acts of Kentucky, 1830, page 126 - 138 and Stephens, Tom, “Making Tracks – Kentucky’s History, Future Tied To The Rails,” Kentucky Monthly, August 2006, page 26 -27.

[ii] Acts of Kentucky, 1830, page 126 - 138.

[iii] Kentucky Reporter, Lexington, February 10, 1830, page 2, column 1 and February 17, 1830, page 2, column 3.

[iv] McChord, Wendell, “A History of the Lexington & Ohio Railroad,” The Dixie Line, Louisville & Nashville Historical Society, February 1995, page 5.

[v] Kentucky Reporter, Lexington, February 3, 1830, page 2, column 1 and February 24, 1830, page 2, column 1.

[vi] Kentucky Reporter, Lexington, May 19, 1830, page 2, column 3.

[vii] Clark, page 12 – 13.

[viii] Kentucky Reporter, Lexington, March 10, 1830, page 2, column 6.

[ix] Perrin, page 80 – 83 and Louisville & Nashville Railroad Historical Society, 1995 Railroad Guide to Lexington, Kentucky, Louisville, 1995, page 2.

[x] Kentucky Reporter, Lexington, May 19, 1830, page 2, column 3.

[xi] Kentucky Reporter, Lexington, September 1, 1830, page 2, column 2 - 3.

[xii] Perrin, page 80 – 83 and Louisville & Nashville Railroad Historical Society, 1995 Railroad Guide to Lexington, Kentucky, Louisville, 1995, page 2.

[xiii] Kentucky Reporter, Lexington, April 20, 1831, page 2, column 2.

[xiv] Observer & Reporter, Lexington, May 24, 1832, page 3, column 2.

[xv] Hockensmith, Charles D., “Investigations at an 1834 Section of the Lexington and Ohio Railroad, Frankfort, Kentucky”, Ohio Valley Historical Archaeology, Volume 12, 1997, page 1 – 15 (“Report Submitted to the Board of Directors of the Lexington & Ohio Rail Road Company, By the President and Ordered to be Printed, August 13, 1831.”)

[xvi] Kentucky Reporter, Lexington, October 12, 1831, page 2, column 1.

[xvii] Perrin, page 80 - 83 and McChord, page 5.

[xviii] Perrin, page 80 – 83 and Louisville & Nashville Historical Society, page 3.

[xix] Kleber, page 551, Kentucky Reporter, Lexington, January 25, 1832, page 2, column 1 and Observer & Reporter, Lexington, May 10, 1832, page 4, column 6.

[xx] Kentucky Reporter, Lexington, May 24, 1832, page 3, column 2.

[xxi] Kentucky Reporter, Lexington, March 16, 1832.

[xxii] Clark, page 15 and Observer & Reporter, Lexington, June 28, 1832.

[xxiii] Perrin, page 80 – 83, McChord, page 6 and Observer & Reporter, Lexington, August 9, 1832, page 1, column 1 and August 16, 1832, page 2, column 2.

[xxiv] Observer & Reporter, Lexington, October 4, 1832, page 1, column 5.

[xxv] Observer & Reporter, Lexington, August 25, 1832 and Clark, page 16 - 17.

[xxvi] Pearson, John H., “As I Recall It,” L&N Employee Magazine, Louisville, May 1929.

[xxvii] Observer & Reporter, Lexington, January 3, 1833, page 4, column 5 and page 1, column 6.

[xxviii] Documents of the State of Kentucky, 1834 (Governor Papers).

[xxix] McChord, page 6 and Observer & Reporter, Lexington, March 7, 1833, page 1, column 1 and April 25, 1833, page 4, column 2.

[xxx] Kleber, page 551.

[xxxi] McChord, page 4 -5 and Prince, Richard E., Louisville & Nashville Steam Locomotives, Indiana University Press, Bloomington, 1968, page 28 - 36.

[xxxii] Coleman, page 130.

[xxxiii] Coleman, page 130.

[xxxiv] Lexington Herald Leader, February 10, 1999.

[xxxv] State Journal, Frankfort, July 29, 1962, page 2.

[xxxvi] McChord, page 7.

[xxxvii] Observer & Reporter, Lexington, October 1, 1834, page 1, column 2 and October 22, 1834, page 3, column 2.

[xxxviii] Perrin, page 80 – 83, McChord, page 7 and “Frankfort’s Century-Old Railroad” (in the papers of Charles H. Bogart, Frankfort).

[xxxix]  Observer & Reporter, Lexington, October 29, 1834, page 3, column 1.

[xl] McChord, page 7.

[xli] Observer & Reporter, Lexington, January 24, 1835, page 3, column 3 and Perrin, page 82.

[xlii] Observer & Reporter, Lexington, January 24, 1835, page 3, column 3, Fisher, Chas. E., “The Early Railroads of Kentucky,” The Railway and Locomotive Historical Society, Volume 5, 1923, page 7 – 15.

[xliii] McChord, page 7 - 8.

[xliv] Observer & Reporter, Lexington, January 28, 1835, page 3, column 3 and January 31, 1835, page 2, column 1 and State Journal, Frankfort, March 17, 1968, page 8.

[xlv] Observer & Reporter, Lexington, June 3, 1835, page 3, column 1.

[xlvi] McChord, page 5 - 6.

[xlvii] “Frankfort’s,” Charles H. Bogart papers.

[xlviii] Kleber, page 551, Prince, page 28 - 36 and Louisville & Nashville Historical Society, page 3.

[xlix] Observer & Reporter, Lexington, December 12, 1835, page 4, column 7 and Clark, page 17.

[l] Observer & Reporter, Lexington, Jun 22, 1836, page 3, column 2.

[li] Clark, page 17 - 19.

[lii] Clark, page 17 – 20.

[liii] Coleman, J. Winston, Stage-Coach Days in the Bluegrass, The Standard Press, Louisville, 1935, page 122 – 23.

[liv] Louisville & Nashville Historical Society, page 3 and Clark, page 20.

[lv] Fisher, page 10.

[lvi] Clark, page 20.

[lvii] Commonwealth of Kentucky, Internal Communications, page 770.

[lviii] Townsend, William H., Lincoln and His Wife’s Home Town, Bobbs-Merrill Company, Indianapolis, 1929, page 142.

[lix] Louisville & Nashville Historical Society, page 3, Fisher, page 10 - 11, Clark, page 21 and McChord, page 8.

[lx] State Journal, Frankfort, March 17, 1968, page 8.

William M. Ambrose, Bluegrass Railways, Limestone Press, Lexington, 2009.