Spencer County, Kentucky

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The coming of the train was a great event in the history of Spencer County. Building of the railroad began in 1879; it was completed in 1882 and made its first run on 1 June. The railroad was first operated by the Cumberland and Ohio Company. It went bankrupt, and was taken over by the Cincinnati, Louisville, Lexington outfit until 1901 when it was bought by the Louisville and Nashville Co. Early produce hauled by train was wagons, harness, salt, sugar and plows. It also carried passengers. The train gave a boost to the milk industry, when it began early morning pick-ups. There were two trains daily: Taylorsville to Louisville and back 5:00 A.M. to 11:00 A.M., and the afternoon trip: 2:30 P.M. and back at 8:00 P.M. The train stayed overnight in Bloomfield. From 1945 to 1952, there was one train daily. Its last run was October 1952.
Taken from Spencer County History by Mary Francis Brown

Tom Watson, Magnet Correspondent
5 Feburary 1997


On the waters of Wolf Creek between Yoder and Normandy there are still some remains of the Bloomfield Branch Railroad.

They include portions of the beams that made up a curved trestle that spanned the creek along with partially buried ties and a few rusted bolts and spikes.

But the most startling remains of the old railroad are a long cut and a massive trestle approach, both of which were never used by any of the branch owners.

Most of the land on which the old cut is located belongs to Pat Kennedy, who bought property formerly owned by Franklin and Janet Barnett. Kennedy, who has 103 acres, says the old railroad cut runs between his place and the Van Dyke farm.

Rodney, Brad, James and Paul Jeffiers also own part of the land in the same area on which the railroad was located.

When the railroad was being constructed in 1880, the engineers brought their horse and mule drawn scrapers and massive manpower to the beautiful hidden Wolf Creek valley. They dug toward the southeast with a plan to send a very high, curved trestle toward the southwest in the direction of Yoder.

But after completing the cut that would allow the orad bed to approach the trestle at a lower trajectory and after finishing a large earthen approach to where the trestle would begin, the plan was scrapped.

There are no records of what happened, but you could almost imagine a construction engineer taking a look at the project, possibly after a changes of ownership.

"Fellers, I hate to tell you this, but the curve of the trestle over Wolf Creek is going to be too sharp. Let's back up a couple of miles and reroute this thing."

And that's what happened.

Instead of using the cut and approach, the direction of the road bed was changed and a much shorter trestle was built that also required less curve.

"I understood thy put it through there and they got down there and it was too short a curve," said Paul Jeffiers, who owns part of the land the railroad used to cross. "That's one tale I heard and the other tale I heard said that they went broke and another company came in there and put it through another way. We drive through one of the cuts going down to the farm now."

Jeffiers said the railroad grade was steep on his farm.

"They called it the Ragweed Special and he would get stuck down there hauling tobacco from Bloomfield and he would set down there and build up enough steam to make it," Jeffiers said.

He was about 16 when his family moved to the area, Paul said, and the young people used to have fun on the pump handle car when the tracks were finally removed in 1952.

"We rode those little old cars and they go down hill good, you know," Jeffiers said.

He also says there was a close call one day when the gang was taking a ride on the pump handle car.

"They had taken out the rails and we were riding on that little old thing and looked up at the end of the trestle and there wasn't no track. We had rigged us up a bar to use for brakes and we got stopped," Jeffiers said.

The change from the original design of the trestle must have occurred between 1880 and 1882 because the completed line appears on the 1882 Atlas of Nelson & Spencer Counties.

The railroad began as the property of the Cumberland and Ohio, but was leased to the Louisville, Cincinnati & Lexington Railway Co in January, 1880.

It was operated by the LC and LRY until 1 November 1881, when it was acquired by the Louisville and Nashville Railroad.

The branch was built to the LC and LRY's prevailing gauge of four feet-nine inches and was not included in a wholesale gauge change that the L & N initiated 30 May 1886.

The railroad provided a vital link between Bloomfield, Taylorsville, Shelbyville and Louisville as lumber, coal and all kinds of materials and farm equipment were shipped by rail. There were milk pickups and passenger cars as well.

But trucks began shipping more and more and people traveled by car, rather than by train.

On 3 September 1952, the Interstate Commerce commission approved abandonment of the 27 mile long branch.


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