The Richmond, Nicholasville, Irvine & Beattyville Railroad (RNI&B, Riney-B) is a former railroad between Frankfort and Beattyville, Kentucky. In its original form, the RNI&B extended from Versailles and Irvine, Kentucky. It was acquired by another railroad in 1899 and extended to Beattyville and Airedale. Another acquisition extended the line west to Frankfort, giving the RNI&B a total of 110 miles.
The RNI&B was completed between Versailles and Irvine in 1890 for a distance of 60.76 miles, which included grades of up to 1.7%, a 253-feett tunnel at Marble Creek and two trestles of 570-feet and 770-feet.1 The railroad hauled two daily passenger trains in each direction. At its western terminus in Versailles, the RNI&B connected to the Louisville Southern.
On December 2, 1891, the RNI&B was put into receivership and sold under foreclosure in 1896.1 It was then sold to the Louisville & Atlantic Railroad (L&A) on August 19, 1899, which had been incorporated for the sole purpose of taking over the RNI&B.
A 34.74-mile extension was completed between Irvine and Beattyville by the L&A in November 1902.1 The L&A then acquired the 6.5-mile Beattyville & Cumberland Gap Railroad (B&CG), which offered a connection to the Lexington & Eastern (L&E) at Airedale (Beattyville Junction). Total mileage of the L&A was 101.10 miles.
Further west, the Kentucky Highlands Railroad Company (KH) constructed a 6.56-mile railroad from Frankfort Millville from April 1907 to April 1908. The single track line served Old Crow Distillery and Old Taylor Distillery.1 The Louisville & Nashville Railroad (L&N) acquired the KH in 1909 and began work to extend the KH alignment up Glenns Creek to Versailles, a distance of 9.42-miles. The extension, which connected to the L&A, opened on May 1, 1911. Trains were then scheduled to run through from Beattyville west to Frankfort.
The L&N saw the L&A as a potential revenue source for the company, as it had desired a route into the southeastern Kentucky coalfields for years.1 The L&N acquired the stocks and bonds of the L&A on July 1, 1909, and then purchased the L&E in November 1910. But both routes, which eventually connected to Jackson, did not provide a low-grade alignment. To remedy this, the L&N constructed a 29-mile route from Irvine to Winchester, but costly slides and right-of-way composed of soapstone and blue clay caused considerable delay.2 Extensive pilings had to be installed for the roadbed to remain stable, and two lengthy trestles had to be built. One trestle, at 2,200-feet long and 233-feet high, was over the Red River at Sloan, and the other was over Howard Creek that was 2,100-feet long and 225-feet high. The low-grade alignment was not finished until May 14, 1916
The L&N also constructed a yard at Irvine, a five-mile connection between Maloney’s Bend to Tallega east of Beattyville, and a second track between Paris and Winchester.2 As a result, the L&N only used a part of the L&A from Irvine to Beattyville. The former L&A between Frankfort and Irvine saw much of its traffic dry up, and the section from Millville to Irvine was abandoned on September 30, 1932. The section between the Old Crow Distillery and Old Taylor Distillery, and Cliffside, just outside of Frankfort, was retained.
A branch line was constructed by the Kentucky Coal Development Company from March 1907 to January 1908 from Heidelberg to Ida May via Sturgeon Creek.1 The 2.98-mile line was acquired by the L&A on November 1, 1909, only to fall into the hands of the L&N a year later. The Sturgeon Creek branch provided a connection to the Kentucky, Rockcastle & Cumberland Railroad. A lack of traffic on the branch caused it to be discontinued on April 13, 1935.
In early 1942, the dormant Kentucky River bridge at Valley View for the RNI&B was demolished.3 Another at Irvine was taken down on November 17.1 Both were scrapped for metal to assist the World War II scrap drive effort.