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Ravenna, KY – June 29th, 2018 –

The Kentucky Steam Heritage Corp. announced Friday that will be eligible - and is receiving significant State Support - for a sizable grant from the Federal Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) for the Kentucky Rail Heritage Center in Ravenna, Kentucky. This award, when approved, will provide a

staggering 80/20 match for donated dollars. Every dollar raised by KSHC before August 10th, 2018 could be matched at four dollars by the ARC grant program.


Contributed dollars will go towards improving and expanding the former CSX railcar repair facility in Ravenna, KY which will be repurposed into a rail-based multi-use campus. It will also help fund the restoration of historic steam locomotive Chesapeake and Ohio #2716.

The Kentucky Rail Heritage Center project was announced in May as a joint-effort between KSHC and CSX Transportation to bring about economic development in Appalachian Kentucky through a rail redevelopment project. KSHC has entered into a contract with CSX to purchase much of Ravenna Yard, a decommissioned facility and accompanying rail yard in Estill County, Kentucky. Kentucky Steam Heritage president Chris Campbell said the 501(c)(3) group plans to finalize the purchase of the property with CSX in mid-August, a timeline closely coinciding with the grant deadline.

Once opened, the Rail Heritage Center will be home to steam locomotive #2716 and other historic pieces including a CSX-donated C&O Caboose. The facility will utilize the restoration and operation of equipment as a hands-on learning environment and tourist attraction. KSHC has already agreed to partner with regional vocational school tech programs to champion workforce and skilled trade development through programs at the facility. The 50-acre campus will also eventually host locally-themed restaurants and shops.

The project announcement - and subsequent grant application - has received support from a myriad of government officials including Congressman Andy Barr, the office of the Governor of Kentucky, and many other local and regional representatives. The Kentucky Rail Heritage Center initiative was announced in a May press conference, which sparked widespread regional community support, and nationwide railroad industry interest.

The ARC's mission is to innovate, partner, and invest to build community capacity and strengthen economic growth in Appalachia. ARC grant opportunities are afforded to counties that are Federally-determined as “coal depressed.” The Rail Heritage Center, located in Estill County, Kentucky, qualifies for the full grant match allocation.

Tax-deductible donations to the Kentucky Steam Heritage Corp. can be made through their website, or by mail at PO Box 23971 Lexington KY 40523. Each dollar donated by August 10th will be considered for the 400% match.

More about the Appalachian Regional Commission and its grant program can be found at

Irvine, KY – May 19, 2018 – The Kentucky Steam Heritage Corp. (KSHC), a not-for-profit rail preservation group, announced the intent to purchase nearly 50 acres of former rail yard property from CSX Transportation to establish a rail-based tourist and community development center. KSHC plans to establish a multi-use facility on the site of CSX’s retired Ravenna Car Shop, creating an immersive, hands-on experience for tourists and tradespeople alike.

The historic yard office building, track, and a modern-era railcar facility will be included in the transaction, and will be used to showcase the rehabilitation and operation of world-renown steam locomotive Chesapeake and Ohio 2716 and other regionally-relevant equipment. The purchase of the property and facilities is the first of many steps on the path to achieve KSHC’s vision for the Kentucky Rail Heritage Center.

“The model for this campus is not that of a traditional museum” said Chris Campbell, president of the Lexington (KY)-based charity. “The Kentucky Rail Heritage Center will be a destination where people can experience the operation of historic rail equipment, take their dog for a walk, and get a bite to eat at a local restaurant, all on the same visit,” he added. “We can’t thank CSX enough for providing the opportunity to creatively infuse the local and regional economy.”

KSHC has worked closely with its community, state and private partners over the past several years to rally support for this endeavor and to gain key proponents in Washington, D.C.

“Today’s announcement is an important step toward preserving the unique culture of our Commonwealth,” said Senator Mitch McConnell. “Together, the Kentucky Steam Heritage Corporation, CSX, local leaders, and state officials are reviving this retired facility with opportunity for a new generation. As Kentuckians’ economic needs adapt and change, it is incumbent upon each of us to remember our rich history. Visitors to this facility will have the chance to learn about the vital rail lines that have helped Kentucky fuel American prosperity for generations.”

U.S. Congressman Andy Barr echoed Sen. McConnell’s enthusiasm for the project and its impact on Eastern Kentucky.

“Ravenna’s railroad history is one to be recognized and celebrated, as it brought tremendous economic growth to Estill County,” said Rep. Barr. “The Kentucky Steam Heritage Corporation is doing just that by developing the Kentucky Rail Heritage Center. I applaud Kentucky Steam Heritage Corporation for their leadership in garnering community support for these restoration efforts and I appreciate their dedication to sharing the rich industrial history of Ravenna with the rest of the country and world.”

KSHC is partnering with Estill County Schools to establish a technical skills training component to the rail-themed campus, which will enable vocational students to practice modern trades on historic equipment. The initial railroad property purchase is the first milestone on the road to revitalize Ravenna, a process that will require continued support, diligent fundraising, federal grants, and more land transactions. This will allow KSHC to fully realize its long-term vision for the multi-use campus, which would give the community a meeting and event space, along with rail excursions that attract visitors to the area.

"I definitely see many positives for Estill County and the entire region. I look forward to working together with Kentucky Steam Heritage on innovative educational opportunities for the good of our students and the entire community." said Jeff Saylor, superintendent of Estill County Schools.

Other community leaders also echoed Saylor’s optimism.

"This is a breath of fresh air for Estill County” said Joe Crawford, director of the Estill Development Alliance. “This gives us a great opportunity to work hand-in-hand regionally with our cousins in nearby Eastern Kentucky counties. The fact that this project builds on our own history and heritage to help us progress makes it all that much sweeter. Economic development, education, tourism development, job creation, heritage preservation - it's a win on every front. We look forward to a long and successful relationship with CSX and KSHC."

CSX has been working closely with KSHC and community leaders for over a year to help establish this unique endeavor.

“This is a win-win transaction that allows CSX to focus on our core business, while bringing new economic opportunities to Eastern Kentucky through CSX’s retired Ravenna Car Shop,” said Shantel Davis, vice president of real estate and facilities for CSX. “It’s an honor to work with organizations like KSHC to make a positive, meaningful impact on the community and to move our company forward.”

KSHC anticipates taking possession of the property in mid-summer 2018, and will immediately begin work on the project.

“Fundraising is our first and most important aim,” said KSHC Vice President Chad Harople. “Without significant investment, this will take time to get going. But, with proper funding, we envision being up and running by late 2018.”

Harpole says that the group hopes to raise $300,000 in the first three months of the project, and $500,000 by years’ end. Much of the work revolves around improving rail infrastructure on the grounds. Contributions also will provide matches for federally-funded ARC grants that the project has already applied for.

“It's an incredible opportunity to attract federal grant dollars to Eastern Kentucky, and it’s all because of CSX’s generosity to get us in this position” Harpole added.

“This is just the beginning of what we hope will be a long and fruitful relationship with CSX.”

For more information, and to make a tax-deductible donation call 833-KY-STEAM (833-597-8326) or visit them on the web at

Corporate sponsorships are also available.


January 31, 2019 - Danville, KY -

Members of the non-profit Kentucky Steam Heritage Corporation (KSHC), as well as from several local companies, braved the frigid temperatures on Wednesday to help move a piece of railroad history.

A 1941-built Southern Railway caboose was successfully transported from Danville to Ravenna, Kentucky as part of an ongoing effort to establish a rail heritage center, a feature attraction in Estill County that will celebrate the Region’s railroad roots and act as an economic incubator for the area.

The caboose was donated by the Boyle County Industrial Foundation to the 501(c)(3) rail preservation group in the Summer of 2018. After several months of preparation work by volunteers on both the site and the caboose itself, Wednesday’s frigid temperatures provided the final piece of the puzzle, freezing up the ground enough to provide the heavy equipment ample traction to remove the artifact.

The Southern Railway Caboose was originally built just three months before Pearl Harbor Day and is one of only two of its kind left in the world. It has been on private land in Boyle County for decades but wound up being in the way when the Boyle County Industrial Foundation acquired the property where it was displayed.

Perplexed as to what to do with the unwieldy artifact, the Foundation put the caboose up for sale online. Kentucky Steam Restoration Director Andy Wartman caught wind of the sale and reached out to BCIF to see if they’d consider a donation. Director Cindy Elisworth entertained the idea and finally with the blessing of the Foundation board, donated the unique piece to the Estill-County-based non-profit.

“Everything we saw kept pointing to our donating it to Kentucky Steam,” she said on-site Wednesday.

“It just seemed like the right fit and we are thrilled to see it go to a place where it will be appreciated and showcased.”

In order to move the 25-ton rail car, KSHC volunteers contributed over two hundred hours making preparations that allowed it to be trucked off the property on Lebanon Road. The site also required extensive vegetation removal. But KSHC wasn’t alone. Project Director Joe Nugent, a Lexington Firefighter, got a good amount of help from the Danville Fire Department. Members used the caboose as both an opportunity to train, as well as to help a charitable endeavor.

DFD members gained useful training in heavy lifting and stabilization, utilizing their own equipment. Mike McCurdy, a battalion chief with the Fire Department, said firefighters gained valuable experience in utilizing air bag jacks, which use high power inflatable bags to lift heavy objects. The fire department lifted the caboose off its wheels with the bags in a training exercise. McCurdy said that the exercise helped simulate lifting heavy objects off cars or other hazards, especially in rescue situations.

In addition, Caldwell Stone of Danville provided heavy equipment to lift and move the caboose’s wheels.

Dobson trucking in Irvine helped move the wheelsets to Ravenna, and Roberts Heavy Duty Towing of Lexington performed the major lifting and hauling.

Chris Campbell, KSHC President, said that the donation and subsequent move is a unique example of two communities rallying together on either end of a project.

“The generous donation of this artifact wound up being much more than just a donation,” he said on Wednesday. “It’s allowed the Danville community to get behind a project that will ultimately help another community several counties away. We are thrilled to have such an historic piece being moved to Ravenna, and are grateful to all who helped make it happen.”

The Southern Caboose will now await restoration, a project that will take some time to fund. Campbell said that while the piece will need major work, it isn’t in immediate distress, and will take a back seat to the organization’s major restoration project, the rehab of a 75-year old steam locomotive that is native to Eastern Kentucky.

The caboose will be on display at the Kentucky Rail Heritage Center, a multi-use campus located on a decommissioned CSX railyard in Estill County. KSHC purchased the sprawling 40-acre property from CSX this past fall, and is working diligently to establish its presence as an economic driver in the region. The project has relied mostly on individual donations, and the Boyle-county-based caboose is just another compelling piece of the developing saga of bringing rail-based tourism to Eastern Kentucky.

“There’s so much to do to get this (Rail Heritage Center) project going” said Campbell. “But the caboose showing up and sitting on site just a few hours after we began moving it makes you realize that when communities rally together, anything can happen.”

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