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Plans For the Kentucky Rail Heritage Center Released

Updated: Feb 11, 2019

For Immediate Release

September 3rd, 2018

Ravenna, Kentucky-

The Kentucky Steam Heritage Corporation (KSHC), a 501(c)(3) public charity - in conjunction with Sherman Carter Barnhart Architects - has released preliminary plans for The Kentucky Rail Heritage Center, a proposed multi-use rail-based attraction to be located in Estill County, Kentucky.

SCB Architects, a well-respected regional firm, has worked in close conjunction with KSHC Board members to craft the initial vision for the 45+ acre project, a gateway economic development initiative which will spearhead efforts to revitalize the economy of Eastern Kentucky.

KSHC President Chris Campbell said the site plan and renderings have already helped engage potential partners and donors in just a few short days.

“We are excited to be able to finally share the vision for what will become a landmark project both for the revitalization of the Region, and for the rail preservation industry,” said Campbell, President and Founder of the Lexington-based charity.

“Special attention was given to functionality, keeping long-term development and short-term utilization of the property in mind. We wanted to make historic trains the star of the show, but also to integrate their presence naturally into a multi-faceted attraction that will attract a wide variety of visitors. We know the plans will change some over time, but the overall vision is there. The team of professionals at Sherman Carter Barnhart immediately latched onto the concept, and the results speak for themselves.”

KSHC has already begun work on the 45-acre site in Estill County, thanks to a temporary lease provided by CSX Transportation who still owns the land. CSX and Kentucky Steam inked a purchase agreement in May, and announced the project in a public press conference held in Ravenna. CSX announced the donation and refurbishment of a vintage C&O caboose at the event. The closing of the sale is anticipated to occur in the fourth quarter of 2018.

Site plans and renderings were completed just days before KSHC’s submission for Federal funds through an Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) POWER grant, a highly-competitive program to help provide capital for projects in coal-depressed communities. KSHC Vice President Chad Harpole said that while the group can’t count on getting the project funded this round, he feels optimistic about the prospect of Federal grant dollars eventually aiding the project.

“The ARC program is a perfect fit for our initiative, but that’s not a guarantee for funds,” he said.

“Though there are many worthwhile projects in the Region competing for the same program, we are cautiously optimistic that the Kentucky Rail Heritage Center’s unique slant on re-using current infrastructure will put us at the top of the list for qualifying for granted capital in a Federally-designated coal-depressed community.”

Government awards are key to getting the project off the ground, but private donations have been the driving force behind the genesis of the Rail Heritage Center project, and Harpole sees the continued support of donors to be integral for sustenance in the early going.

“We couldn’t have gotten to where we are without the generous donations from individuals from all over the Nation. We are grateful to everyone who has made a contribution so far, no matter how big or small,” he added.

Kentucky Steam Heritage will begin a formal fundraising campaign for the Center this fall, and will kick off the festivities on September 22nd at the Ravenna Railroad Festival, a yearly community celebration held in Estill County. KSHC will showcase the plans for the property and board members will be on hand to answer questions about the future development of the project - as well as the restoration of two steam locomotives - Nickel Plate Road 587, and Chesapeake and Ohio 2716.

Tax-deductible donations can be made through the web at

or by mail to Kentucky Steam Heritage PO Box 23971 Lexington KY 40523

To learn more about the festival, visit

Media Contact: Chris Campbell


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