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History of the Louisville and Nashville

  1. CSX Osburn yard CSX divisons serving Louisville
  2. Morgan's Raids on the Louisville & Nashville During the Civil War
  3. Guide to Appalachian Coal Hauling Railroads
  4. Pine Pullmans


photo1 Yard Engine and Crew Switching at Louisville Union Station ca 1890

A Brief History of the Louisville & Nashville Railroad in Kentucky and Louisville

It was Louisville's need for improved transportation which brought about the creation of the Louisville & Nashville Raifroad at mid-century 1850, and on March 5 of that year, a chaiter was granted by the Commonwealth of Ken- tucky "for the purpose of building and operating a railroad from Louisville to the Tennessee line in the direction of Nashville." Like action was taken by the Tennessee legislature in 1851, authoriz- ing the new company to extend its road from the Tennessee line on to Nashville. Some $3.8 mirnon was raised by on-line communities and counties to capitalize the L&N; Louisville alone put up $1 million. Original surveys were completed in 1852, and first tracl:s were pushed southward from Louisville in 1855. On August 25, the first train took some 300 civic and company officials and invited guests on an inspection run eight miles out of the city and back to inpect the newly-completed track Four years later, Muldraugh Hill, the Green River gorge and steep Tennessee ridges near Gallatin had been surmoun- ted, and on Oct.27, 1859, a special train steamed all the way to Nashville and back to officially open the main line. Scheduled trains commenced a few days later, making the run to Nashville in about 10 hours, compared with three or more days required by stagecoaches, wagons or riverboats when making the same trip. The main line was divided into two segments: Main Stem, First Division, from Louisville to Bowling Green, Ky., and Main Stem, Second Division, from Bowling Green to Nashville. Several hranch lines swung off both divisions. These included the Bardstown Branch (completed in 1860), Lebanon (1857), Glasgow (1870), Scottsville (1886), Hartsville (1892) and the Memphis Line (1861). The Lebanon Branch and Mem- phis Line deserve further mention. Diverging from the Main Stem-First at appropriately-named Lebanon Junc- tion, Ky., the Lebanon Branch extended in a southeasterly direction 37 miles to reach its namesake city. The branch was opened in November of 1857, almost two years before completion of the main stem in the fall of 1859. After the Civil War, the branch was extended to south- eastem Kentucky, reaching what today is Corbin, Ky., in 1882, and two years later, Knoxville, Tenn. (via a connection at the Tennessee state line with a Southem Railway predecessor). Sub- branches from the "LB" served Rich- mond, Ky. (1868) and Greensburg, Ky. (1879). For many years, the Lebanon Branch provided the L&N with a through route '1 to Knoxville and Atlanta as well as an outlet to help move vast tonnages from the southeastern Kentucky coal fields centered around Harlan County. Much of the "LB" has now been abandoned, but happily, the Kentucky Railway Museum preserves some 20 miles of the western end of the branch, trackage that predates even the Main Stem in completion! As for the Memphis Line, the L&N; built only that portion from Bowling Green to Guthrie at the Tennessee state line. Two other railroads, the old Mem- phis, Clarksville & Louisville and Memphis & Ohio, fmished the much longer segment from Guthrie through Clarksville, Paris and McKenzie to Mem- phis in early 1861, just days before the outbreak of the Civil War. The L&N; acquired the entire line outright in 1869, and until its own main line via Birming- ham and Mobile was in place aiter 1881, the Memphis Line and its connections served as an impottant route for Ohio Valley-Gulf Coast and Ohio Valley- southwestern traffic. Well into the 2Oth century, much through southwestern traffic continued to swmg off the Main Stem at Bowling Green and move down the Memphis Line, which for many years was part of the Louisville Division. However, after the NC&S~ merger in 1957, most through traffic was shifted via Nashville and the former NC main line through Bruceton and McKenzie. At that time, the "ML" also became part of the Nashville Division. Today, the Bowling Green- Clarksville segment is operated by the R.J. Corman Railroad, which also owns the former Bardstown Branch. The ancestry of the L&N's Lexing- ton Line predates even the L&N. The 28-mile Lexington-Frankfort segment, completed in 1834, was part of the old Lexington & Ohio, which was chartered in 1830, making it Kentucky's first railroad. The company fully intended to reach the Ohio River at Louisville, but succeeded only in reaching FranIlfort, and it rnmained for a second company, the Louisville & FrankfQrt, to complete the gap some years later, in 1851. After the Civil War, the L&O and L&F merged to become the Louisville, Cincinnati & Lexington. The companies had already established a coordinated service between Louisville and Lexing- ton, and in 1866, the undertook construc- tion of new trackage from LaGrange, Ky., to Covington, in northern Kentucky across the Ohio River from Cincinnati. That route, called the "Short Line," opened in June 1869. The L&N was to acquire all of the LC&L properties in 1881, giving it access to the important Cincinnati gateway as well as eventually reaching the eastern Kentucky coal fields in the 1890s and early 1900s. The latter goal was achieved by acquisition of the former Lexington & Easiern (which had buik from Winchester, Ky., to Jackson, Ky., by 1891) and by construction of much new trackage to Hazard, Whites- burg and Fleming, Ky., after 1910. Space limits further review of the development of other former L&N lines in Kentucky, but the following routes and their ancestry should be mentioned: Covington-Winchester-Sinks, Ky. - the old Kentucky Central, portions of which were operating as early as 1857; Evans- ville/Henderson-Madisonville-Hopkins- ville-Nashville - built originally as the Kentucky Division of the St. Louis and Southeastern in 1870-71, and acquired by the L&N in 1880; Owenshoro-Rus- selIville - projected as the Owensboro & Nashville and completed to Russell- ville in 1883 and then on to Adairsville (1884); and EvansvilleIHenderson- Owensboro-Louisville - clrartered as the Louisvrne, St. Louis & Texas, completed in 1889, and subsequenfly reorganized as the Louisville, Henderson & St. Louis. Now for more on the history of the "Texas," as L&N crews called that scenic Ohio Valley line. Construction began in 1888, with first trains running between Owensbero and Stephensport. The entire line was opened between Henderson and West Point ('ust south of Louisville), in April, 1889. One of the builders scoffed at the name of his line by saying that it "didn't start in Louis- ville, never reached St. Louis and had no intention of going on to Texas!" LH&S~ trains first entered Louis- vrne over the tracks of the Illinois Central from West Point, but in 1905, the "LH" established its own connection with the L&N at what today is Osborn Yard, and as for St Louis, through service to that metropolis was eventually established via the L&N's own Evans- ville-St. Louis route. The L&N in Louisville The L&N's first facilities in Louis- ville were located at 9th and Broadway, I and these included a combination pas- senger and freight station said to be "far in advance of other structures of that kind of the day." Cost of the station: $34,000. The 23-acre complex also took in the former buildings of the old Kentucky Locomotive Works, becoming the L&N's first repair shops in 1860. Office Buildings The first offices for the railroad were housed in a building at Bullitt and Main Streets but were trnnsferred to a newer building (still standing) at Second & Main, completed in 1877. That structure, in turn, was replaced by the first wing of the 11 -story General Office Building at 9th and Broadway in 1907. A subsequent addition, which exacfly matched the original 1907 building, was completed in 1930, making the Louisville office build- ing one of the largest in the nation devoted exclusively for use as a railroad headquarters. With the advent of CSX and exodus of many railroad departanents to Jackson- ville, Fla., the building was sold to Kentucky's Departrnent of Human Resources in 1984. However, because of the L&N's long association with the city of Louisville and the equally strong identity of the building, the big "L&N" neon sign on top is still in place and he seen from many blocks away. Shops Reference was made above to the L&N's original shop facilities, acquired in 1860 from the old Kentucky Locomo- tive Works. These were expanded after the Civil War and served the line until the turn of the century. By then, new car and locomotive repair facilities were badly needed to support the growing system, which by then reached all the way to the Gulf Coast. From 1902 to 1905, 35 new buildings were erected on a 50-acre tract m south Louisville, along with a 26-stall roundhouse and train yard. The original South Louisville Shops complex, which opened in June, 1905, cost the L&N some $2.3 million. A steel car shop was opened in 1914 and later, in the 19605, much of the original car department was enclosed. Over the years the shops repaired thousands of cars and locomotives and fabricated many new units, including 400 new engines bet- ween 1905 and 1923. Today, only two sections are still used - a wheel & axle repair facility, and a winter maintenance facility for track and roadway repair equipment. Union Station As could he expected, the Old Reliable outgrew its original depot at 9th and Broadway, with passenger trains shifting to a nearby station at 11th and Maple after the Civil War. Short Line and Lexington Branch trains, inciden- tally, operated from stations on Isast Jefferson downtown, and ultimately a building at First and Water Streets. Work on foundations for a new "union" station began in 1880, but construction of the station proper did not start until late in that decade, the comple- ted structure, with its clock tower, spa- cious public rooms and rose window, formally opening in Sept. 1891. IFor a more detailed account of Union Station, see "Louisville Union Station, 1891- 1991," 4th Quarter, 1991, Issue No.27 and Feb., 1992, Issue No. 28 of The Due Lm~] A connection called the "A-Street Cutoff" on the south side of the city provided access for Short Line trains to enter Union Station, and after 1900, all former LC&L trains were shifted to Union, which also handled.Pennsylvania, Monon trains and eventually, LH&S~ passenger runs. From 1963-1971, Chesa- peake & Ohio passenger trinns were shifted from Central Station to run in and out of Union as well. During Union Station's heyday, more than 60 daily deparrures and arrivals were posted on the big train-announcement board in the station lobby. Amtrak's Floridian was the lsst train to use Union Station, leaving the liistoric old building for good on Oct.31, 1976. Two years later, the station was sold to Louisville's transit company ('1'ARC - Transit Authority of River City), which has used it since as headquarters. The ancient train shed was removed in 1974. As could be expected, L&N ope- rations in Louisville changed greafly over the decades. Some highlights: construc- tion of the east Louisville grade sepa- ration project (1936-37), which included the elevated Baxter Avenue Station (closed in 1963 but still standing); expansion of Strawberry Yard during and after World War II, and, with the openmg of Osborn Yard (covered else- where in this guide), the closing of srnaller yards at Oak and Water Streets and east Louisville; and merger of the Monon in Aug., 1971, providing the L&N a second access to the Chicago gateway and bringing Monon freight trains into Louisville terminals. The Louisville Division offices were transfered from Union Station to the General Office Building in the late 19705. In that move, the original 19505 CTC machine was supplanted by a new computer-assisted CTC machine located on the first floor of the GOB. Train dispatching has since been shifted by CSX to Jacksonville, Fla. With the advent of CSX in 1980, yet other changes, which can only be sum- marized here, occurred. Former Balti- more & Ohio trains to Cincinnati were shifted to the Short Line, and B&O's North Vernon, Ind., branch abandoned north of Charlestown. (Industries in Charlestown and in New Albany, Ind., continue to be served by CS)~P sw'itchers dispatched from Osborn Yard.) In addi- tion, one-time C&O traffic from West Virginia and eastern Kentucl:y lik~wise was routed via the Short Line-Queens- gate Yard, the old C&O Lexington Subdivision having heen abandoned in 1985. The L&N ended 132 years of exis- tence on Dec.31, 1982, when it joined Seaboard Coast Line, the ClincIffield, the Georgia and the West Point Route to form the Seaboard System Railroad, and ultimately, CSX Transportation. In 1984, the Louisville Division was absorbed into the Corbin and Evansville Divisions, and in 1988, all heavy locomotive r'epair concentrated at South Louisville was shifted to other CSXT shops at Corbin, Ky. and Huntington, W. VL Most car work had earlier shifted to the former C&O Raceland facility, near Ashland, Ky. Yet today, Louisville continues as an important traffic generator for CSXT, with two on-line active Ford Motor Company plants, the huge General Elec- tric Appliance Park and oth~ chemical and printing businesses as well as a broad industrial base embracing many diverse industries. Sitting astride major CSXT core routes as it does, Louisville's future as a rail center is bright,


CSX Osburn yard CSX divisons serving Louisville section1

The Louisville & Nashville Railroad Historical Society reprinted thanks to Charles B Castner Osborn Yard Operations

Historically, five separate train yards were built in Louisville by the L&N; from the 188Os to the 192Os. The biggest were South Louisville, completed in 1905, and Strawberry, opened in the early 192Os. While these yards were expanded over the years, the need to eliminate re-handling from yard to yard had to be addre&sed.; In 1973, the L&N announced that a new automated classification yard was planned for Louisville. Over the next three years, most of the new facility was built just south of the original Strawberry Yard. In April, 1977, the new Osborn Yard was put "on line" to commence operations. Oshorn was built in the middle of an industrial park on Louisville's south side. Its strategic location continues to be important today, with the yard occupying more than 350 acres. The center of the yard is the five-story hump tower, from where most yard operations are directed. Starting from the north is the "A Yard," the receiving yard. Below "A" and on the other side of the hump tower are the engine servicing facilities and car repair shop. Just south of the hump is the "B Yard," ("bowl") or classification yard with its 57 tracks. On either side of the "B Yard" are two departure yards, "C Yard" to the west and "D Yard" to the east. "C," with its long tracks, builds and d~~atches through freights and interchange cuts for other raifroads. "D Yard," located on the east side of the bowl, builds and sends out locals and industry cuts. "D Yard" also sends cars to Mapother Yard, a small sub-yard nearby serving certain industries such as General Electric and Ford Motor Company. csx divisons in lvl Railroad Guide to Louisville, Kentucky The Five CSXT Subdivisions serving Louisville Five CSXT Subdivisions radiate out of Louisville. The Monon Subdivision (part of the Chicago Division) runs 302.2 miles from Osborn Yard to Chicago and is operated under manual block authority. CSX was running two trains a day on this line up until June of 1991, but traffic on the south end is routed north to Mitchell then west on the former B&O to Chicago One item of interest about this subdivision is the trackage rights arrangement that the Soo Line utilizes from Bedford to New Albany, md., to access Louisville. These rights date back to 1973 when the L&N took control of the Monon, enabling the former Milwaukee Road (now Soo) to reach and seeve the gateway here. Currently, Soo runs one train in each direction every other day. Power is almost always 5D6Os, tieing up at Norfolk Southern's Youngtown Yard. Coming from the northeast is the LCL Subdivision, or "Short Line," linldng Louisvrne with Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. The LCL is CTC- controlled and forwards an average of 16 trains a day, several locals and coal extras. Long regarded as one of the most scenic lines anywhere on the L&N; system, the "Short Line" with its many curves and trestles was often used by the L&N for publicity photos. Trains that ply the LCL include autoracks R2 14/R2 15, and freight trains R312/R313, R3751 R376, Q511/Q512, RSl8/R519, RS44/ R546 and Q572/Q573. The coal extras go to Osborn Yard and then proceed over the LH&S~ Subdivision for the short trip to the Jefferson County River- port for unloading around the loop track at that facility. Another line entering Louisville is the Eastern Kentucky Subdivision ~K), a route traditionally used to fimnel coal from areas around Hazard and Jackson, Ky., in the eastern part of the state. CSXT dispatchers often refer to the Lexington-Anchorage part of the EK as the "Old Line," because this line has been around since the 184Os. Today's EK sees coal extras plus two daily freights, R540/R547, Louisville-to- Ravenna freights which crews nicknamed "The Blaze." The EK is also manual block~ontrolled. From the west comes the LH&S~ Subdivision, extending 147.3 miles from Osborn Yard to Evansville, Ind. This subdivision is CT'C controlled. The LH&S~ sees four daily freights, RS60/ 561 and Q563/Q564, plus grain extras and coal movements, the later destined for the Jefferson County Riverport, as well as an occasional train to a rail- to-water facility at Owenshoro, Ky. Coming up from the south is the Main Line Subdivision. It runs 180.8 miles from Radnor Yard in Nashville to Osborn Yard. The Main Line Subdivi- sion is CTC-controlled, and moves more than 14 freight trains a day, with several running as second sections. These freights include autoracks R2 14/L2 14/ R215, R375/R376, R270, R256, RSM, R543/R544, Q571/Q572, Q573/Q574, Q575 and R589. The Main Line Subdivision com- prises the L&N's 1859 Louisville-to- Nashville main line, the Louisvilie-Eliza- bethtown segment having been double- tracked in various stages over the decades. In early January, 1992, after a derailment at the Salt River Bridge in Sheperdsville (m.p. 18.6), CSXT decided to reduce the double track to a single track from Coral Ridge to Bardstown Junction, and plans to eventually eli- minate more double track between Bard- stown Junction and the foot of Mul- draugh Hill (m.p. 34). The historic double-track coaling tower at Lebanon Junction, site of the L&N Historical Society's 1992 "night photo shoot," could well be a victim of that action.

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