The Morehead & North Fork Railroad is a former railroad between the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad in Morehead and Redwine, Kentucky.
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.
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.
- Sulzer, Elmer G. “Up North Fork Way.” Ghost Railroads of Kentucky. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1968. 101-10. Print.