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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.

The former C&O tunnel between Aden and Grahn, Kentucky still remains if good shape.
The former C&O tunnel between Aden and Grahn, Kentucky still remains if good shape. (That’s my editor, Tim Preston, in the lower left corner).

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.

In the 30+ years since the tunnel last saw a train (and maintenance), relatively little damage has occurred.
In the 30+ years since the tunnel last saw a train (and maintenance), relatively little damage has occurred.

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.

Written by:

Cory Claxon is a journalist/photographer for the Grayson Journal-Times, he is also a avid railfan and historian.

2 Comments

  1. There is another tunnel in morehead its not on the C and O it on the old M orehead and northfork spur it is the clack mountain tunnel it is coverd up on the morehead side from cavins the westliberty side is still open the tunnel was timber lined some timbers are still in place

    • Hi Malen, I’m from West Liberty and have been interested in this tunnel for years but haven’t ever been able to pinpoint the location as I’ve come to explore many tunnels I would love to check this one out. Do you have any pictures or can you direct to it’s exact location? I’m going down home in the spring and would love to check it out. Thanks and blessings, Geno.

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