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Lexington, KY

April 15, 2019

A giant piece of Kentucky’s past will be rumbling through the bluegrass this summer. Chesapeake and Ohio 2716, a massive 75-year old steam locomotive, will be making a triumphant journey from the Bardstown area to Ravenna, Kentucky, July 26 through 28. The 400-ton engine is slated to be restored to operation, taking center stage at the Kentucky Rail Heritage Center, a blossoming Eastern Kentucky economic development project based in Estill County.

The Kentucky Steam Heritage Corporation, a 501(c)(3) public charity, is spearheading efforts to help revitalize the regional economy in Appalachian Kentucky with a multi-faceted rail-based initiative. The locomotive’s move will be a mobile kick-off for the project, allowing the public to get an up-close view of a piece of the region’s past, and what may be a key part of its future.

Thanks to collaboration from both CSX Transportation and Nicholasville, Ky.-based RJ Corman Railroad Group, the locomotive will be transported over a three-day period from the Kentucky Railway Museum, in New Haven, to Estill County. The unprecedented event will also include several stops and a public excursion, the proceeds from which will be shared by Kentucky Steam Heritage and the Kentucky Railway Museum, both non-profit entities.

Chris Campbell, Kentucky Steam Heritage president, says the weekend-spanning odyssey will be a culmination of months of planning and shows extraordinary generosity and buy-in from two large rail companies.

“This project is about much more than just trains, and our corporate partners really understand the vision,” he said. “Kentucky Steam’s focus is to spur economic development and job creation through tourism, utilizing the region’s rich rail history as a springboard. Over a half century ago, this engine helped build and sustain the economy of the eastern part of our state, and all of Appalachia. We want to tell that story as well as to help write the next chapter for the region.”

Last May, Kentucky Steam announced that a deal had been struck with CSX Transportation to purchase a 40-acre tract of decommissioned railyard in Estill County. Ambitious development plans for the Kentucky Rail Heritage Center include a diverse set of attractions based around trains — a restaurant, brewery and event center, concert venue, walking trails and a railroad restoration shop which will include a partnership with Estill and Lee County schools. Area vo-tech students will be able to participate in the rehab of historic train equipment while gaining valuable technical skills training and program credit hours.

The property was acquired from CSX in late-2018 and work began over the winter by a growing number of volunteers from the area and surrounding states. Many of the volunteers are drawn in by the chance to help rebuild the locomotive, one of the few remaining examples of what helped define the industry and economy of Appalachia.

Steam Locomotive 2716 was built in 1943 and operated pulling freight and passenger trains for thirteen years — mostly in Appalachia — before being retired in 1957. It was donated to the Kentucky Railway Museum — then located in Louisville — by the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway in May of 1959. Over the past sixty years, the engine has only operated for a few short months before being put on static display in 2001 at the museum’s new home in New Haven, south of Bardstown.

Kentucky Steam leased the engine from the Kentucky Railway Museum in 2016, with the intent of restoring it to operation. Once rehabbed, it will be one of the largest operating steam engines in the nation. The process of restoration is costly, however, mainly because replacement parts have to be custom manufactured and fitted by hand. The group hopes to offset some of the costs of the restoration through donations and revenues generated by the upcoming public send-off excursion.

The move of the locomotive will be spearheaded by CSX Transportation and RJ Corman, a joint-effort that will result in photo opportunities, public tours and displays in several cities along the 200-plus-mile-long journey. Details for the schedule will be solidified early this summer, but the tentative route should bring the locomotive through Louisville, Frankfort, Midway, Lexington and Winchester before it arrives in Ravenna. The public will be able to access and tour the engine, as well as other pieces of historic equipment, at several predesignated stops along the route. Campbell stresses that while the series of events is intended to engage the public, safety is of the utmost importance.

“We think this will be a great way to let people interact with our project and to get them excited about what we are doing,” he said. “But, the best way that the public can say ‘thanks’ to the companies that are helping move this amazing artifact is to be safe, smart and respectful around railroad tracks and property.”

Tickets to ride the special July 26 excursion at the Kentucky Railway Museum featuring steam locomotive 2716 and other historic trains will go on sale on Thursday, April 18 at 9 a.m. EST. A limited number of seats are available.

For more details and updates, information on membership, donations and for ordering tickets, visit

For more info about the Kentucky Railway Museum, visit

Since our founding in late-2015, we have relied on a small, close-knit group of volunteers to develop our mission. Now that we are growing by leaps and bounds, we feel it’s the right time to give some of our supporters the opportunity to be involved with our organization as official members.

We are launching our membership drive to give you the opportunity to get in on the ground floor of our trendsetting railroad project. We have tailored a structure that is both affordable and provides benefits to both you, your family and the organization. All members will receive email updates, access to our members-only Facebook page, advance notice on events and tickets, discounts on apparel and the opportunity to get your hands dirty with, much more!

We have several exciting projects and events coming up this summer, and we can’t continue our progress without the help of our growing community - both locally, and worldwide.

Please consider becoming a member of Kentucky Steam. We think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at what’s coming down the tracks….


Chris Campbell

President, Kentucky Steam Heritage Corp.

CLICK HERE to learn more and to join the team!

C&O 2716 - in all its guises - is primed and ready for a new life. Join the movement!

February 26, 2019 - Irvine, KY

The Kentucky Steam Heritage Corporation announced Tuesday that the Anna B Milburn Charitable Lead Annuity Trust has contributed $50,000.00 to the Kentucky Rail Heritage Center project. The donation is a crucial step in the pre-development work for a 12,000-square-foot event center and multi-use facility that will be the focal point of the ambitious railroad-themed campus located in Estill County, Kentucky.

The Kentucky Rail Heritage Center, a major economic development initiative, is an adaptive reuse of 40 acres of the rail yard located in Ravenna, Kentucky, formerly owned and operated by CSX Transportation. The planned attraction will include an event space and restaurant, interactive locomotive restoration and display center, concert venue, walking paths and outdoor music pavilion.

The structure design is slated to include a 150-seat restaurant and a 300-seat banquet room as well as a flex space for other potential tenants. It will also include a sprawling patio area, overlooking the proposed concert venue and historic railroad shop.

Tony Milburn, founder and CEO of the Milburn Group, said the contribution is a significant step in the right direction for this major effort to begin redevelopment of the economy of Appalachian Kentucky.

The Kentucky Steam Heritage Corporation, a 501(c)(3) public charity, closed on the purchase of the 40-acre tract in October, and volunteers have been working ever since to clear the site and ready it for redevelopment. KSHC President Chris Campbell said the generous donation is another leap forward in the revitalization initiative.

“We couldn’t be more excited about the prospect of furthering this endeavor with the Milburn Group” Campbell said Monday. “Tony and his team immediately grasped the campus concept and had excellent input in their vision of the project. We are thrilled that their ideas closely coincide with ours.”

The Milburn Group and Kentucky Steam will collaborate with Work Architecture for planning and renderings, and Manning Construction for producing cost estimates. The collaboration will build on the vision laid out by renderings donated in 2018 by Sherman Carter Barnhart Architects. The cash donation will also help renovate a portion of the 100-year-old former-Louisville and Nashville Railroad yard office building located on the campus, creating a venue for Kentucky Steam and other collaborators to showcase the plans for the development, and to eventually establish an interactive center which can help springboard the long-term vision of the project.

For more about the project, visit, or the official Kentucky Steam Heritage Facebook Page,

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