Kentucky’s Oldest Short Line RR To be Sold

An Oregon entrepreneur has purchased a Kentucky short line railroad and tourist train operation.

KentuckySam Carpenter, a business developer, consultant and author based in Bend, Oregon, told Trains magazine this week that he plans to acquire the Big South Fork Scenic Railway tourist line and the Kentucky & Tennessee short line from the McCreary County Heritage Foundation Inc.

Carpenter said he is buying a home in Steans, Kentucky, and plans to give the rolling stock of the Big South Fork a new look.

This will include painting SW9 No. 106 into a black livery with K&T lettering. The tourist operation’s open-air passenger cars will be repainted green.

Although the Big South Fork owns a former Union Railroad Alco 0-6-0 steam locomotive that has received sporadic restoration efforts, Carpenter expects diesel motive power to be the primary focus of the tourist railroad.

The K&T was founded in 1902 after Justus S. Stearns bought 30,000 acres along the Kentucky- Tennessee state line.

Between 1948 and 1964, it saw steam excursions pulled by Southern Railway No. 4501.

The railroad became a nonprofit organization and is the oldest short line railroad still operating in Kentucky.

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