On occasion, I have been able to combine both my job at the newspaper and my interest in railroading, as was the case when we visited an abandoned railroad tunnel between Grahn and Aden, Kentucky.
The tunnel is located on the ex-Chesapeake & Ohio Railway in central Carter County. Built in 1935, it served the railroad for 50 years until the entire Lexington Subdivision, the official name of the line, was abandoned in the mid-1980s.
While much of the right-of-way for the railroad was quickly bought up, or reverted to, nearby land owners – some of it has remained relatively intact, such as the case with this particular tunnel.
The tunnel saw many trains during it’s time, including the likes of the railroad’s premier train: The George Washington, along with many freight trains carrying the nations goods. It would have also seen many shipments of world-famous Carter County fire brick, from either of the three fire brick plants located along the railroad in Olive Hill, Grahn and Hitchins.
This tunnel used to be easily accessed by a trestle that spanned the creek just in front of it’s western portal, but that trestle (and several others in the area) have been removed in the past few years — making the easiest access via a dry creek bed and a hard climb up the abutments, then we were faced with both a pond and a large dirt mound to prevent unwanted entry.
Despite the attempts of local landowners to prevent trespassing, several pieces of evidence made it clear that the tunnel was still frequently visited by vandals. Spray paint, burnt mattresses and other litter was strewn throughout the structure.
It is highly unlikely, and very unfortunate, that this tunnel will ever see any railroad activity again – but to those who worked, lived and played along the Lexington Subdivision recall fondly the trains that passed by in the day and night.