Morehead & North Fork Railroad

Morehead & North Fork Railroad

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






History

In 1905, the Clearfield Lumber Company of Clearfield, Pennsylvania acquired large timber holdings along the North Fork of the Licking River. 1 Its subsidiary, the Lee Coal Company, had similarly acquired the mineral rights for coal. To extract both resources, the Morehead & North Fork Railroad (M&NF) was incorporated on September 27, and construction of the line began at its northern terminus with the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway (C&O) in Morehead in 1906. The entire 25-mile line to Redwine was completed on September 27, 1908, and included three tunnels at Clack Mountain (1,334 feet, timber-lined), Poppin Rock (725-feet, solid rock), and two short bores referred to as the Twin Tunnels.

Timber resources were exhausted by the early 1920s which forced the Clearfield Lumber Company to close in 1922. 1 In 1925, the site was converted into Lee Clay Products, a refractory brick manufacturer, which acquired its basic material, clay, from nearby Clack Mountain which was moved to the plant by the M&NF.

In 1933, the M&NF was dismantled between Clack Mountain and Redwine, leaving only four miles operational between the C&O in Morehead and the clay mine. 1 The railroad was sold to a private owner not long after Lee Clay closed in 1970 and it became the Morgan & Morgan Fork Railroad (M&MF).  In 1976, four Baldwin diesel locomotives were acquired for the railroad which remained operational for its sole customer, a lumber yard that reopened on the site of the former brick plant.

A fire in April 1982 destroyed the drying kilns that provided the only freight opportunity for the M&MF. 1 After the C&O through Morehead was dismantled in early 1985, the railroad was mothballed until June 2001 when the remaining M&MF tracks were removed and the Baldwin locomotives relocated.

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 The company had constructed a line along the Straight and Big Mandy Creeks but further work had been halted because of financial complications. The American Lumber & Manufacturing Company, through its subsidiary, the Lenox Saw Mill Company, purchased its timber interests and completed the railroad to Redwine which included a switchback and a short tunnel near Leisure.

The Lenox Railroad was incorporated on July 3, 1918. 1 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, giving the Lenox a distance of 7.7 miles. 1 The Lenox filed for abandonment on October 16, 1926, after timber and coal resources were exhausted, and the line was dismantled after March 1927.


Gallery






Further Reading


Sources

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

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9 Comments

  1. I was at Clearfield Ky. May 12th 2018 the Box car is sitting under the clay shed by the engine house. The large diesels are gone along with the caboose, In the old drying shed there was a 0-4-0 small diesel in various state of disrepair alone with a few motor car trailers. I’ve been going there since 1961 it ‘s neat that anything still remains

  2. Sherman: Just by happenstance, I was sitting in a 190-degree dry-sauna with a guy yesterday, and the topic of the Morehead & North Fork came up. He went outside to retrieve his smart phone, flicked it briskly, and showed me a photo he took six years ago, and it blew my mind. It was shot through the side door of the old 2-locomotive building in Clearfield. There, in the smoky dark, was a locomotive (steam!). Do you know the current disposition of this locomotive? FYI, my brother and I visited the M&NF ‘house’ back in our college days (ca. 1907), and had a sit-down discussion with Mr. Cassidy (Cassity?), the then-president. He showed us his collection of photos dating back to Moses. My brother and I had tried this same stunt (peeking) about 2012 or 2013, and it was so dark, I imagined seeing a steamer, but my brother swore it was a diesel with big air tanks. Neither of us is blind, but I do confess to having a vivid imagination. Now, this Millennial dude’s picture has me squirming. Thanks for any info.

      1. That should have been American Locomotive Works at Pittsburg, Pa. Enlieu of Baldwin Locomotive Works

    1. The M&NF 0-6-0 Steam Switch you saw in that building was peurchased by Jerry Jacobson and taken to his AGE of Steam Roundhouse in Sugar Creek, Ohio….The did a complete overhaul of the engine and tender and bringing it into FRA Compliance. It is now doing some operation exercises on the Old Ohio Central Railroad, which is now owned by the Genesee and Wyoming Railroad. The engine was finalized and 1st fired about a week and a half ago. It’s looks like they just received it from Baldwin Locomotive Works….There is a You Tube showing it running on the Age of Steam property earlier in this week…..!

  3. Hi Sherman, do you have or know of anyone who has photos of the Clack Mountain tunnel. I’m from West Liberty and have a ton of interest in this line but can’t find a whole lot. Thanks, Gene.

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