Ravenna, KY

April 17, 2019

A recently-announced collaborative effort between railroad companies and preservation groups is getting a historic twist, and the public will have an opportunity to participate in the uncommon event.

Clinchfield 800, a rare F-7 diesel locomotive built in 1948, has been assigned by CSX Transportation to join an Odyssey across the Bluegrass state, a move that will ultimately take steam locomotive Chesapeake and Ohio 2716 from its current home at the Kentucky Railway Museum to the care of the Kentucky Steam Heritage Corporation (KSHC) in Ravenna, Kentucky. Kentucky Steam intends to restore 2716 to operation, and make the engine a focal point of their envisioned train-centered venue, the Kentucky Rail Heritage Center.

Clinchfield 800 prepares to tow 2716 from KRM in 1979. Charlie Buccola Photo

On Monday, Kentucky Steam announced that CSX Transportation and the RJ Corman Railroad Group have agreed to transport the 75-year old steam engine over the weekend of July 26-28. The move will kick off on Friday, July 26, when the public will be invited to ride a special “Heritage Highball” excursion at the Kentucky Railway Museum as Clinchfield 800 leads the historic move out of New Haven and onto the CSX mainline. Riders will be treated to a leisurely trip across Kentucky bourbon country, and will be able to bid farewell to 2716 as it and the 800 uncouple and continue on toward Ravenna, while the excursion returns back to Kentucky Railway Museum. Tickets range from coach class all the way up to caboose seats and cab rides in both 2716 and 800. Proceeds from the excursion will help offset the costs incurred by both Kentucky Steam and KRM associated with the move.

800’s inclusion in the event will be a dramatic reuniting of the two vintage artifacts — a story 40 years in the making. The two engines last met in 1979 when the 800 was tasked with moving 2716 from the Kentucky Railway Museum — then located in Louisville — to North Carolina to be rebuilt and used by the Clinchfield Railroad. It was famously escorted through Kentucky and Tennessee with a vintage caboose and Clinchfield business car No. 100 in tow, destined for restoration by the railroad and slated to be used on company-sponsored excursions. Only a few short months into refurbishment, however, the railroad company was rocked by a management shakeup, and the excursion program was canceled. The engine was quickly pieced back together and shipped back to Kentucky.

“This is a rare opportunity at a second chance,” said Chris Campbell, Kentucky Steam president. “It’s almost like redemption for the two engines. Both are historic and both share a mutual chapter in the history of American rail preservation. We cannot thank CSX and our friends at the Southern Appalachian Railroad Museum enough for allowing this story to have another chapter.”

Clinchfield 800 is operated and maintained by the Southern Appalachian Railroad Museum (SARM), located in Oak Ridge, Tenn. The 70-year-old locomotive was the first diesel purchased by the Carolina, Clinchfield and Ohio Railroad, a predecessor company of CSX. The engine was built by the Electro-Motive Division and operated predominately in Appalachia. After the Clinchfield was absorbed into CSX Transportation, the engine was leased for commuter service in the early 1990s and was eventually donated to the C&O Railroad Historical Society and was painted in C&O Livery. In 2017, the Clinchfield 800 was faithfully restored to its as-delivered grey and yellow paint scheme by the dedicated members of the CSX Huntington Locomotive Paint Shop. CSX railroaders researched old drawings and consulted retired Clinchfield engineers to ensure that the exterior and interior were restored to the original specifications used when the locomotive first rolled off the line in LaGrange, Ill.

Most recently, the locomotive was given nationwide attention as it took the lead on the 2017 CSX Santa Train, an annual 110-mile trek from Shelby, Ky., to Kingsport, Tenn. Special guests and staff deliver toys, food and winter clothing each year to residents along the train's path in Kentucky, Virginia and Tennessee.

Charlie Poling, museum director at SARM, said the 800’s inclusion in the move of 2716 is an amazing opportunity to honor the heritage of not only CSX, but also two important pieces of railroad history.

“SARM could not ask for a better partner in preservation than CSX Transportation,” Poling said. “Their ongoing commitment to preserving their proud corporate heritage is to be commended. Clinchfield 800 is a shining example of this commitment. SARM was honored and humbled to be asked to participate in the 75th anniversary Santa Train and is again honored to be involved in C&O 2716's trip to a new home in Ravenna.”

800 won’t be the only carefully-refurbished showpiece on the excursion. C&O Caboose 3203, which was also recently restored at CSX’s Huntington Shops over the winter, will also join the consist. The stunning rehab was completed in February and the 50-year-old caboose was subsequently released with much fanfare as a donation to Kentucky Steam.

Campbell added that the excursion is not only a great collaboration between rail preservation groups but is also a chance to showcase the excellent work of the men and women whose craftsmanship was instrumental in restoring the two vintage pieces.

“The workers at the Huntington Shops are largely unsung heroes in the day-to-day operations of big railroads like CSX Transportation,” he said. “This is a great opportunity to honor their dedicated work on a big stage … and it’s humbling to be able to do it with the partnership of SARM and KRM … and the blessing of CSX.”

Tickets for the July 26 excursion go on sale Thursday, April 18 at 9 a.m. Tickets start at $43 for coach up to $2,716 for a cab ride in the C&O 2716.

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

For more info about the Kentucky Railway Museum, visit

For information about the Southern Appalachia Railroad Museum, visit

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!