As of now, you’ve heard from nearly everyone regarding how their company will be attempting to handle the coronavirus. At Kentucky Steam, we wanted to say a few words about what we are doing in wake of this unprecedented National Emergency.

As a 501(c)(3) public charity, we exist to benefit the people of the Commonwealth of Kentucky by helping increase tourism through our rail-related projects. The developing Kentucky Rail Heritage Center and the restoration of steam locomotive 2716 have been well-publicized hallmarks of our initiative to help bring tourists to Eastern Kentucky. Though we have not opened our campus to the public for regular hours yet, our presence in Estill County has been increasing, with many promising developments in the works for 2020. Inevitably, the effects of the global pandemic will reach far and wide, and Appalachian Kentucky is not exempt.

We are well aware that our cause, while important to the development of our community, is secondary to the overall health and well-being of the citizens of our Region. Therefore, as we continue our mission, we will do so with the utmost sensitivity to the health of those whom our project effects. This means postponing our spring open houses and complying with both federal and state mandates that have been set in place to help protect the health of the general public. We will continue to work on developing the campus at the former CSX railyard in Irvine/Ravenna, as well as progressing with the restoration of C&O 2716.

It will be a difficult time in every business’s trajectory as the global economy is already reeling in its reaction to the coronavirus. We hope that you will still consider supporting your local small businesses that are being affected by the current events. We also hope you will continue to support Kentucky Steam’s initiative by a tax-deductible donation to help keep our momentum during these uncertain times. Every single dollar helps further our mission.

Thanks again for all your support over the past few years. May God bless you, your family and friends through this scary and world-changing event.


Chris Campbell

President, Kentucky Steam Heritage Corporation.

11 March, 2020. Press Release Courtesy, R.J. Corman

Nicholasville, KY - The steam engine, charmingly called “Old Smokey,” is being donated to the non-profit, Kentucky Steam Heritage Corporation. While it is bittersweet to see this locomotive go to a new home, R. J. Corman is excited to make this train accessible to as many people as possible for education and inspiration. Old Smokey will become part of the Kentucky Rail Heritage Center’s rail museum in Irvine, KY.

RJ Corman Press Release Link:

The RJ Corman "Old Smokey" under steam. Photo Terry Redeker

In 2007, the steam engine’s purchase was initiated by R. J. Corman Railroad Group founder, the late Rick Corman. It was purchased by R. J. Corman from the Railroad Development Corporation based in Pittsburgh which had acquired three Chinese QJ engines. The decision to purchase this steam engine was “nostalgic in nature,” according to Mr. Corman, “How do you know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been?” One of the leadership model principles that the R. J. Corman company operates on is embracing the future while building on the past.

Some have wondered why Mr. Corman chose a Chinese made locomotive over an American made engine when searching for a classic piece of equipment. It has been decades since American railroads used steam engines, but China relatively recently converted to diesel engines, so even though Old Smokey looks antique it is anything but that. Old Smokey was built in 1986 and was hauling coal and/or passengers until 2005, whereas American-made steam engines were either in museums or scrap yards during that timeframe. Additionally, although the steam engine was built in China it was based on a 1920’s American design. During the purchase, Mr. Corman commented, “Steam engines aren’t very efficient, but they have character and people love them!”

It took a little over seven months to make all the purchase and transportation arrangements for the 140-ton engine and 40-ton tender car’s journey from Jinzhou, China to the Bluegrass State of Kentucky. Upon its arrival at the R. J. Corman Central Kentucky Lines, the train was one of only three QJ class steam locomotives in the U.S. It was also one of two operating steam locomotives in Kentucky, and it had been 50 years since a steam engine operated in Central Kentucky.

After being inspected and spruced up, the 2000 horsepower engine made its inaugural run on May 24, 2008. Since then the locomotive has been used for group tours and for operation during special occasions. Old Smokey has brought joy to many over the years. Donating the locomotive to the Kentucky Steam Heritage Corporation will ensure that this priceless piece remains as a symbol of heritage, innovation, and progress. Old Smokey will be transferred to the non-profit in early April. R. J. Corman will also be donating a glass structure used to house the engine.

The RJ Corman "Glass House" being assembled in Lexington, KY. Photo Courtesy the Lexington Herald-Leader

“We are thrilled to continue the partnership that we have formed with R. J. Corman, and these recent donations are a welcomed addition to our project in Estill County. Both the steam locomotive and the glass building that once housed it will be key features in our developing community campus in Irvine. We are grateful to Ed Quinn and all the fantastic people in Nicholasville for the support of our endeavor, and we look forward to incorporating the legacy of Rick Corman and his company into the Kentucky Rail Heritage Center.” - Chris Campbell, President Kentucky Steam Heritage Corp.

R. J. Corman is happy to make this steam engine accessible to the public and thereby promote the mission of the Kentucky Steam Heritage Corp to educate, entertain and inspire past, current and future generations by operating historic rail equipment. “Donating Old Smokey is one way we can give back to the community and continue to share Rick Corman’s vision and legacy. We see this as a way to honor the giving spirit Rick instilled in this company from the beginning.” – Ed Quinn, R. J. Corman President and CEO

Kentucky Steam and R.J. Corman will further discuss the future plans for relocating the building and the steam engine later in 2020. Details will be made available when they are finalized.

Watch a fascinating documentary of how Rick Corman founded and built the R.J. Corman Railroad empire here:

$10,000 Trains Magazine Preservation Award Presented to Aid in Restoration of C&O 2716

For Immediate Release

October 29, 2019

The Kentucky Steam Heritage Corporation, a 501(c)(3) public charity based in Estill County, Kentucky, announced Saturday that it was named as the 2019 winner of Trains Magazine’s annual Preservation Award, which seeks to fund railroad preservation efforts across the country. The announcement follows the revelation by Trains Magazine at the publication's photo charter at the Grand Canyon Railway in Williams, Arizona, on Saturday night.

In being named the Trains Magazine Preservation Award Winner, Kentucky Steam will receive a $10,000 prize which will be used toward the restoration of former Chesapeake & Ohio steam locomotive No. 2716, which will be the centerpiece of Kentucky Steam's operations for years to come.

“It is always a difficult decision to choose from so many deserving projects,” said Trains Magazine Editor Jim Wrinn. “The Kentucky Steam project will move the restoration of a landmark steam locomotive forward.”

According to a statement from Trains Magazine, 37 applicants representing projects ranging from archives to rolling stock, passenger cars, steam and diesel locomotives applied for consideration of the Preservation Award. The prize awarded to Kentucky Steam will be used in the rebuilding of the hot water pump for the 2716, which is an integral part of the locomotive's boiler system.

Kentucky Steam Heritage Corporation President Chris Campbell says Kentucky Steam, its board and its growing membership are honored to have been named as the winners of Trains Magazine's Preservation Award.

“We are thrilled and humbled to receive this award. Our organization is excited to get to work on the restoration of C&O 2716, and the Trains Preservation Award will be extremely helpful in moving the project along.”

The C&O No. 2716 is a 2-8-4 "Kanawha"-type steam locomotive which was built in 1943 and operated pulling freight and passenger trains for 13 years, mostly in Appalachia, before being retired in 1957. It was one of 90 such locomotives purchased by the C&O between 1943 and 1947 and is one of a dozen Kanawhas which remain, but the only one which has operated in the preservation era. The 2716 is owned by the Kentucky Railway Museum and is on long-term lease to Kentucky Steam. It has been restored to operation twice before: Once by the Southern Railway in 1981 and 1982 and again in 1996 by the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society.

In early 2019, Kentucky Steam was awarded $46,000 by the John Emery Trust for new boiler tubes for the 2716. This latest award will propel forward the volunteer efforts of Kentucky Steam, which has already invested thousands of man hours into the 2716's restoration. As part of that effort, the 2716 was moved in July from Kentucky Railway Museum in New Haven, Kentucky, to Kentucky Steam's headquarters at the former CSX Ravenna Yard and Car Shop in Irvine, Kentucky, where it will be restored and will be the centerpiece of the organization's multi-faceted tourism, entertainment and educational development in Appalachian Kentucky.

“Trains Magazine has been a big help in getting the word out about our mission, and this grant is another shot in the arm for the rebuilding of this magnificent engine. This project is about more than just trains, but the region’s undeniable ties to the railroad make this locomotive’s restoration a key to the economic development of Eastern Kentucky” Campbell added.

For more information on Kentucky Steam Heritage Corporation's efforts, including events, volunteer opportunities and donation opportunities, visit,

Read the official Trains Magazine article here:

499 Kirkland Ave  
Irvine, KY 40336
1-833-KY STEAM
The Kentucky Steam Heritage Corporation (KSHC) is a Kentucky based 501 c(3) non-profit organization operating with the intent to educate, entertain and inspire past, current and future generations by operating historic rail equipment. The hallmark of our efforts is the restoration of Chesapeake & Ohio Railway Steam Locomotive 2716 to operation. The restoration and operation of 2716 and other historic pieces will prove to be living history and will serve as an educational tool, enhancing heritage tourism and stimulating economic growth.
© 2015-2020 - Kentucky Steam Heritage Corporation
a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization