August 20, 2021
Kentucky Steam announces train rides behind live steam locomotive for Ravenna Railroad Festival
RAVENNA, Ky. — Live-steam railroading returns to Estill County this year as, for the first time in its history, Kentucky Steam Heritage Corporation will offer train rides and throttle time opportunities along its property behind an operating steam locomotive.
At the 2021 Ravenna Railroad Festival, scheduled for Sept. 11 at Kentucky Steam Heritage Corporation’s “The Yard” campus, families and individuals will have the opportunity to ride behind a 90-year-old steam locomotive, the former Lehigh Valley Coal Company No. 126, nicknamed “Sadie.” The 0-6-0ST saddle tank locomotive was built by Vulcan Iron Works for the Lehigh Valley Coal Company and was put into service in May 1931. It is now owned by the Gramling family in Indiana. The coal-fired engine will be under steam and will operate short, half-hour excursions through the Kentucky Steam property, located just across the railroad tracks from Ravenna.
The excursions will take place during the annual Ravenna Railroad Festival, an event centered upon the region’s railroad history, and featuring food, crafts, arts and music. This year is the first time Estill County-based Kentucky Steam has headed up the decade-old event, a yearly celebration of local history and culture with a familiar railroad theme.
“We are thrilled to be able to host the 2021 Ravenna Railroad festival and give the general public the chance to see what we have in store for the region,” said Chris Campbell, Kentucky Steam founder and president. “The addition of public train rides is both exciting and humbling, knowing that this community can trace its origins and early history to the steam locomotive era of American railroading.”
Tickets for the planned excursions will be available to the public beginning at 5 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 22, and will start at just $5 each. Train rides, featuring family-friendly open-air seating, will begin at 10 a.m. on Sept. 11. Those who are not the backseat driver types can choose to be the engineer, as a very limited number of tickets will also be available for riding in the cab as well as to operate the locomotive on Sunday, Sept. 12, beginning at 10 a.m. Engineer opportunities are one hour each and are extremely limited.
Tickets for events with “Sadie,” including train excursions, cab rides, coal-feeding and a lesson in starting up a steam locomotive, can be purchased at www.kentuckysteam.org/events. Corporate outing opportunities will also be available beginning Thursday, Sept. 9.
“This event will set the stage for the aggressive plan Kentucky Steam has to enhance tourism in Appalachian Kentucky,” Campbell said. “This is really just a taste of things to come. The restoration of our centerpiece locomotive, the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway No. 2716, is well underway with the goal being to eventually operate that locomotive in Kentucky. The visit from ‘Sadie’ will be a great experience for this community and for our staff and volunteers here at Kentucky Steam.”
This year’s event marks the return of the Ravenna Railroad Festival after the festival was canceled in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. This year’s festival will open to the public at 9 a.m. on Sept. 11 with a kids parade beginning at 10 a.m. Live music will begin at noon, with performances by Jacob Neal, Troy Estes, Chelsea Nolan, The Jenkins Twins and Eddie Hughes. Kentucky Steam President Chris Campbell will also perform live music before musical headliner and Estill County native Senora May performs at 6 p.m. The full musical lineup and schedule is available at the Ravenna Railroad Festival Facebook page.
The festival will also feature a remembrance ceremony at 11 a.m. marking the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attack upon the United States.
The festival is a reflection upon the community’s past as a hub for steam locomotives and railroad operations that extended throughout Eastern Kentucky and the Appalachian region. The very soil upon which this year’s festival will be held was once nearly the exact location of the former Louisville and Nashville Railroad’s vast locomotive service facility.
The area is now part of Kentucky Steam’s campus, dubbed “The Yard,” which is a burgeoning rail-based tourism development in Estill County at the site of the former CSX rail yard dividing Ravenna and Irvine. “The Yard” will act as a fully immersive historical/educational experience where visitors will not only learn the varying aspects of the operation of historical railroad equipment including steam locomotives, but they will also be greeted by an events venue, a brewery and restaurant, and much more. The centerpiece at The Yard will be 400-ton locomotive C&O 2716, which is currently being restored to operational condition by Kentucky Steam volunteers and staff.
“The folks that visit the festival this year may walk in the very footsteps of their ancestors who worked to keep the lifeblood of America flowing for more than a century,” Campbell said. “The spirits of those railroaders are a part of everything we’re working to accomplish here at The Yard, and I believe they will be here when we celebrate them during this year’s railroad festival.”
Only a few Vendor spots remain for booking for the 2021 event. Those interested in space for both standard booths, as well as food and beverage booths may visit www.railroadfestival.com for applications, vendor information, and guidelines. Booth size and pricing varies, with rates available for review on the applications which are due by August 31st.
Sponsorship opportunities for the 2021 event are also available. Information regarding sponsorship and vendor information may be obtained by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, by calling 1-833-597-8326 ext. 819, or visiting the festival website at www.railroadfestival.com.
Further information about Kentucky Steam Heritage Corporation, including ticketing, donation and membership opportunities may be found by visiting www.kentuckysteam.org .