In July 1881, the Louisville & Nashville Railroad purchased the Louisville, Cincinnati & Lexington Railway Company. On November 1, 1881, the Louisville & Nashville began operating trains along the old Lexington & Ohio line, into downtown Lexington, to the old Lexington & Ohio’s passenger depot on Water Street, at Mill.[i] The line became part of the Eastern Kentucky (EK) Division of the Louisville & Nashville Railroad. The line was also known as the “Old Road.”[ii]
In December 1881, the Louisville & Nashville granted “trackage rights” to the Elizabethtown, Lexington & Big Sandy from Lexington to Louisville, along the “Old Road.” That line had come under the control of Huntington, who threatened to build a competing line to Louisville.[iii]
In 1891, the Louisville & Nashville acquired the Kentucky Central Railway and consolidated operations in Lexington. In 1907, the new Union Station opened on Main Street. The station served the Louisville & Nashville, Lexington & Eastern and Chesapeake & Ohio Railways. In 1915, the Lexington & Eastern Railway was consolidated into the Louisville and Nashville.
Passenger service was discontinued by the Louisville & Nashville to Lexington during June 1955.
In 1968, the Water Street tracks were removed and the line concentrated its operations to the yard on Buchanan Street. In the 1970s, the Lexington Civic Center and Rupp Arena were built on the site of the old Lexington & Ohio Rail Road’s Freight Yard and Depot on Patterson Street. In 1983 the Louisville & Nashville merged with the Seaboard Cost Line Railroad and subsidiaries to form the Seaboard System. In 1986, the Seaboard System merged with the Chessie Systems (former Baltimore & Ohio, Chesapeake & Ohio and Western Maryland Railroads) to form CSX Transportation.
Louisville & Nashville Locomotive #1887 at coaling tower, Lexington, with train from Ravenna destined for Louisville, circa 1948 <Marion Eldridge>
Louisville & Nashville’s Train # 20, the Lexington Express (Louisville to Lexington), arriving at Union Station, circa late 1940s <Bluegrass Railroad Museum>
Louisville & Nashville Train #44 from Ravenna approaching yard on south leg of wye at Lexington, circa 1950 <Marion Eldridge>
Louisville & Nashville Locomotive #270, Train #34 (Corbin to Cincinnati) passing Patterson Street having left Union Station, tall building behind engine is the Kentucky Traction & Terminal <Bluegrass Railroad Museum>
Louisville & Nashville Train #4 at Avon enroute to Lexington from Fleming, note old Lexington & Eastern Depot, circa 1953 <Marion Eldridge>
Last run of Louisville & Nashville’s Train #20 (the Lexington Express), at Union Station, June 15, 1955 <Bluegrass Railroad Museum>
R J Corman Railroad:
In October 2003, the R J Corman Railroad Group assumed the tracks from Anchorage to Winchester, which included the 1) Louisville & Nashville line from Anchorage to Frankfort (via Anchorage to Shelbyville branch line and Shelbyville to Christiansburg mainline), 2) the Frankfort to Lexington “Old Road” (the original Lexington & Ohio route), 3) the old Kentucky Central Railway (from Buchanan Street to Chicle), 4) the Louisville & Nashville’s Bryan Station Cutoff and 5) the Kentucky Union line (from the Bok to Winchester). The company also utilizes the old Louisville & Nashville yard on Buchanan Street.[iv]
Stations, Depots and Yards:
Freight Depot - was located on West Vine at Patterson Street. Built in May 1854, by the Lexington & Frankfort Railroad. The depot measured 85 feet by 300 feet. In 1915, a new depot was built on the same site at the cost $60,000.[v] Demolished in 1970, the site is now the Lexington Civic Center.[vi] A six-stall roundhouse was built on Manchester Street, near Merino Street, adjacent to the depot in the 1880s. In 1913, the roundhouse was relocated to Buchanan Street, to make way for the Jefferson Street Viaduct. The new roundhouse cost $38,000.[vii]
Freight Station on West Vine at Patterson Street, June 1966 <Bluegrass Railroad Museum>
Passenger Locomotive #295 (a 4-6-2 Pacific) on the turntable at the Lexington yard, 1953 <Winfrey Adkins>
The famed General, of the Civil War’s Great Locomotive Chase, on promotional tour in 1962, at GM Tower in the Lexington yard <Marion Eldridge>
Freight Yard – after the abandonment of the downtown tracks in 1968, the main yard of the Louisville & Nashville was consolidated to Buchanan Street, west of Cox Street. Today, this is the site of R J Corman’s Central Yard.
Locomotive #1367 running through the yard on Buchanan Street, GM Tower abandoned, March 1978
Lexington & Ohio Station, circa 1950s <Coleman – Transylvania>
Passenger Station - located on South Mill Street, between Water and Vine Streets. Built in 1835 as a two-story combined freight and passenger station, it was used by the Lexington & Ohio Rail Road and its successors until 1959. Later, in the 1850s the Lexington & Frankfort added a third story. In 1907, passenger operations were transferred to the new Union Station. Between 1908 and 1957, the company used the station for storage. Demolished during May and June 1959.[viii]
Bracktown - a flag stop on the Louisville & Nashville line, located at Bracktown, a small black village in western Fayette County, along the Town Branch of Elkhorn Creek and Leestown Pike. Named after Reverend Frederick Braxton, a noted black preacher in Lexington.
Duckers Station – one of the original stations on the Lexington & Ohio, located in northwest Woodford County (located on the Hickman Branch of the South Elkhorn Creek, near the Folks of the Elkhorn). The company refueled locomotives here with wood and water. Named after the Ducker family, which operated a general store. Duckers Road connected Versailles to the Leestown Turnpike. The station was featured in the motion pictures The Great Race (1962) and the Flim Flam Man (1967).
Frankfort - the state capital and original western terminal on the Lexington & Ohio Rail Road.
Junction – located in eastern Franklin County, was the junction of the Lexington & Ohio Rail Road, with both the Versailles and Leestown Turnpikes. Later renamed Jett.
Midway – also called Middleway, was a station at the midway point on the Lexington & Ohio Rail Road, between Lexington and Frankfort. After the railroad cut across Colonel John Francisco’s farm in 1833, he offered the entire property to the company. Purchased on January 31, 1835, the property consisted of “two hundred and sixteen acres, one rod and twenty poles.” Total purchase price $6,491.25 or for $30 per acre. R. C. Hewitt, Railroad Engineer, platted the property into streets and lots. The town was named Midway, the halfway point. The streets were named after directors (Winter, Stephens, Brand, Bruen, etc.) of the railroad. The first lot was sold in May 1835 to Alford Offutt. This was the first planned railroad city in the United States.
Paynes Depot - a small southern Scott County village, named after the Payne family, local land owners. It served as a wagon freight depot and became a stop on the Lexington and Ohio Rail Road in 1833. This station was the main outlet for Georgetown, until the 1877 (when the Southern line opened). A post office operated here from 1852 until 1925.
Silver Springs - was located on the Louisville & Nashville Railroad, on Leestown Pike in Fayette County. The station was built in 1885 to service the Nat Harris Distillery. In 1895, the distillery was purchased by Jas. E. Pepper & Company, which operated it as the Little Pepper Distillery. The station was closed after 1919 (when Prohibition closed the distillery).
Spring Station - is a northern Woodford County village about three miles west of Midway. An original station on the Lexington and Ohio Rail Road, when the line came through in 1833. Named for several nearby springs and also known as Big Spring Station.
Due to Kentucky’s favorable tax rate, Collis P. Huntington established the corporate headquarters of the Southern Pacific Railroad at Silver Springs. With no operations in Kentucky, the company paid no state taxes. The annual board meetings were held at the station until 1944. The company relocated when Woodford County began taxing out-of-state property.
Louisville & Nashville Locomotive #1804, pulling Local Freight Train #142 near Viley Station, April 1945 <Coleman – Transylvania>
Louisville & Nashville Freight Train, near Viley Station enroute to Lexington, 1945 <Coleman – Transylvania>
Viley - a flag stop and siding on the Louisville & Nashville line on Viley Road in northwestern Fayette County.
Yarnallton Station - an original station on the Lexington & Ohio Rail Road on Yarnallton Pike, near Leestown Road. The station was located in western Fayette County (along the Town Branch of Elkhorn Creek). Originally known as Thompson’s Spring or Lindsay’s Spring, it was the site of Villa Grove, a resort operated by the Lexington & Ohio Rail Road (from 1832 to 1835). The resort was previously C. Chatterback’s “Villa de Bocrase,” a combination of country club and roadhouse.[ix] The company refueled locomotives here with wood and water. Later named after Yarnallton Station.
Yarnallton Depot, circa 1940s <Bluegrass Railroad Museum>
[i] “Time Rolls In Downtown Lexington, But Not by Trains,” (file at Kentucky Historical Society).
[ii] Herr, page 69 - 72.
[iii] Lexington Daily Transcript, December 5, 1881.
[iv] “CSX Sells ‘Old Road’ To Corman,” The Dixie Line, December 2003, page 3.
[v] Lexington Herald, February 26, 1915, page 14, column5, April 1, 1915, page 10, column 3, July 18, 1915, page 1, column 6 and January 30, 1916, page 3, column 6 and Coleman, page 46.
[vi] Lexington Herald, October 31, 1970.
[vii] Lexington Herald, June 14, 1913, page 4, column 6 and September 23, 1914, page 4, column 5.
[viii] Coleman, page 94.
[ix] “Time Rolls In Downtown Lexington, But Not by Trains,” (file at Kentucky Historical Society).