“come ride the rails & make some memories”
In 1902, Justus S. Stearns of Ludington, Michigan, established the Stearns Coal & Lumber Company. This logging and mining empire controlled more than 200 square miles of land in Kentucky and Tennessee, built the first electric sawmill in the U.S.; as well as, employed 2,200 people during its’ heyday. The construction of Kentucky & Tennessee Railway allowed the Stearns Company to grow and prosper.The K&T Railway once stretched over 25 miles into the Big South Fork River valley and beyond into the surrounding mountains. It served as the primary passage not only for timber and coal, but for workers and supplies going to camps along the line. By the mid 1950’s, the Stearns Company closed several coal mines and the K&T discontinued passenger service. In 1976, the company’s vast land holdings were transferred to private ownership, the Daniel Boone National Forest, and Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area.Today, the McCreary County Heritage Foundation, Inc., a non-profit organization, has taken on the task to preserve, protect, and interpret the rich history of one of the few company towns in America still surrounded by its coal, lumber, and railroad roots. The National Historic District of Stearns, McCreary County Museum, and Big South Fork Scenic Railway provide the tools necessary for the Heritage Foundation to keep this important piece of industrial history alive.So come ride the rails with us…to make some new memories and learn about mining for coal. All Aboard!!!
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Big South Fork Scenic Railway
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