Friday, March 04, 2011

High Hopes of a Kentucky Railway Company

Rail service to eastern Kentucky

The Kentucky Union Railway Company of Lexington, Kentucky, had no qualms about "blowing it's own horn." In 1883, they published a book that was full of fabulous reasons that readers should invest in their company. Naturally enough, the book's title was The Kentucky Union Railway Company.

Eastern Kentucky was ripe for exploitation, the book claimed. If a railroad was built from Lexington, Kentucky, through Powell, Wolfe, Breathitt, Perry, and Letcher counties, to Abingdon, Virginia, great profits would be enjoyed. Trains would bring the coal and lumber of eastern Kentucky and western Virginia to Lexington where it would be used or shipped to the world via connecting rail lines.

Sometimes, the book's enthusiasm amuses me. The following is quoted from page 38, where the writers turn their attention to Kentucky's climate:


The climate is very mild and salubrious. The mean annual temperature ranges in different parts of the State from 50° to 55° Fahrenheit... Cattle remain upon pasture during the entire winter with but little additional food, and there is seldom a day, winter or summer, when a man may not perform a full day's work in the open air.

Physical Development of Men and Animals

The healthfulness of the climate is attested by the low death rate and by the strength and vigor of the population.

The tabulated measurements of United States volunteers during the Civil War show that the soldiers born in Kentucky and Tennessee exceeded all others in height, weight, circumference of head, circumference of chest, and ratio of weight to stature.

The speed and endurance of the Kentucky horse and the superior development of all kinds of domestic animals are well known.

Both man and beast may have thrived in Kentucky, but the Kentucky Union Railway Company did not. Building the railroad through the mountains of eastern Kentucky proved to be more expensive, difficult, and time-consuming than they had anticipated.

By 1894, Kentucky Union had gone into foreclosure. The railbed was constructed from Lexington, KY, to Jackson, KY, and there it ended at about half of its intended length.  It became the property of the Lexington & Eastern Railway, and ultimately part of the L & N's Eastern Kentucky Division. During World War II, part of the line was torn out and melted down for weapon production. You can read more of the history in The Louisville & Nashville Railroad, 1850-1963 by Kincaid A. Herr.

Drag Abingdon to the lower right corner, repeat the motion, and you'll see Lexington at upper left. Jackson, where the Kentucky Union Railway ended, is about half-way between Lexington and Abingdon.


Collagemama said...

"Salubrious" is the word for the day. I will try to use it in conversation!

Genevieve said...

It's an old-time word. We have a Salubria Springs here (near Pembroke, KY). It was a little village in the 1830s or earlier, depending on what source you consult. "Salubrious" always has a few water droplets with it in my mind, probably from my knowledge of "Salubria Springs" and also the fact that the consonant sounds are exactly the same in the word "slobber".

Ilona said...

That is the very word that struck me, also. Something between Victorian proper and the words of a snake oil salesman is the connotation it has in my mind.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

CONTENTMENT: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry, live simply, expect little, give much, sing often, pray always, forget self, think of others and their feelings, fill your heart with love, scatter sunshine. These are the tried links in the golden chain of contentment.
(Author unknown)

IT IS STILL BEST to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasure; and to be cheerful and have courage when things go wrong.
(Laura Ingalls Wilder, 1867-1957)

Thanks for reading.