Morehead & North Fork Railroad

Railroad / Kentucky

The Morehead & North Fork Railroad is a former railroad between the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad in Morehead south to Redwine, Kentucky.


History

The Morehead & North Fork Railroad (M&NF) was incorporated by the Clearfield Lumber Company of Clearfield, Pennsylvania on September 27, 1905. 1 The company had acquired large holdings of timber along the North Fork of the Licking River, along with coal under the name Lee Coal Company.

To access the reserves and timber, construction of the M&NF began at the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad (C&O) in Morehead in 1906 and the entire 25-mile line to Redwine was completed on September 27, 1908. 1 Branch lines were built up valleys to retrieve logs that were sent to Clearfield for processing. The M&NF featured three tunnels:

  • Clack Mountain, 1,334-foot lumber lined bore
  • Poppin Rock, 725-foot solid rock tunnel
  • Twin Tunnels, two short bores

The Clearfield Lumber Company closed in 1922 and was converted into Lee Clay Products, a refractory brick manufacturer, in 1925. 1 Clay was sourced on nearby Clack Mountain and moved to the plant by the M&NF.

In 1933, the M&NF was abandoned between Clack Mountain and Redwine, leaving only four miles intact. 1 The railroad was sold to a private owner shortly after Lee Clay closed in 1970 which became the Morgan & Morgan Fork Railroad (M&MF). Four Baldwin diesel locomotives were acquired in 1976.

Lee Clay, which had become a lumber yard, burned in April 1982, destroying the drying kilns that provided the only freight opportunity for the M&MF. 1 The C&O through Morehead was abandoned in early 1985, leaving the M&MF marrooned. The remaining M&MF tracks were removed and the Baldwin locomotives relocated in June 2001.

Lenox Railroad

The Lenox Railroad was founded upon the trackage that was laid by the Roper-Reese Lumber Company which connected to the M&NF at Redwine. 1 Roper-Reese had constructed a line along Straight Creek and Big Mandy but further work had been halted over financial considerations. The American Lumber & Manufacturing Company, through its subsidiary, the Lenox Saw Mill Company, purchased its timber interests and completed the railroad to Redwine. It included a switchback and tunnel.

The Lenox Railroad incorporated on July 3, 1918, and shortly after, the line was converted to standard gauge and extended 1.7 miles to the mine of the Clearfield Cannel Coal Company on Rush Branch. 1 The Lenox had a final distance of 7.7 miles.

The Lenox filed for abandonment on October 16, 1926, and the line was dismantled after March 1927. 1


Gallery


Sources

  1. Sulzer, Elmer G. “Up North Fork Way.” Ghost Railroads of Kentucky. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1968. 101-10. Print.