Eastern Kentucky In Locomotion
A Multi-faceted Rail-Based Attraction
The Kentucky Steam Heritage Corporation is excited to be partnering with CSX Transportation, Estill County Schools, the Estill Development Alliance, and Hardy Oil in announcing The Yard; a trendsetting adaptive re-use of pre-existing infrastructure that will set a new mark in the economic revitalization of Eastern Kentucky.
The Yard will be a groundbreaking multi-use tourist attraction and economic development project that will integrate the region’s history, natural beauty, and culture in a vibrant 45-acre rail-centered campus located in Irvine, Kentucky.
This transformative project has been made possible by the generous donations of hundreds of individuals across the nation. Please consider making a contribution to help keep The Yard going! Rather speak one-on-one with us? Contact Chris, our President at
You will be redirected to our donations site to make your donation. Thank You for donating!
More Than Just Trains
The Yard will be much more than a working rail museum. This vast campus that was once a sprawling rail yard will be transformed into a vibrant public use space, complete with a food truck venue, Hardy Music Pavilion and a great lawn - each portion of the campus giving a nod to Estill County’s rich rail heritage.
Visitors will be able to bring the whole family for a day of fun and choose from a variety of activities - from a farmer’s market and food trucks, to train rides, steam locomotive demonstrations and even a concert to cap off the evening.
The Yard Office - the only original building on site - will house the gift shop and Rail Heritage Center Museum as well as ticket office and meeting spaces. Across the tracks, a full-service restaurant and brewery will provide year-round dining as well as catered events. The wrap around outdoor seating area will be integrated into a passenger-train-era loading platform adjacent to the tracks.
The site plan below shows the concept behind The Yard, and the Kentucky Rail Heritage Center.
The Hardy Pavilion
The Hardy Pavilion at The Yard,” will be a 4,500-person capacity multi-use venue for use in hosting community gatherings, farmers' markets, and concerts. Construction for the Hardy Pavilion is scheduled early 2021, with an anticipated opening of late-summer or early fall, 2021.
The Steam Shop
Our steam locomotive shop will be the epicenter of operations and visitors will get a first-hand look at what it took - and still takes - to keep these massive three-quarter million-pound machines breathing.
The Shop will be a fully-equipped steam locomotive repair facility, and will be open during specific hours to the general public.
If you want the full hands-on experience, you’ll be able to sign up for a workshop and get your hands dirty - and literally help bring the past to life!
Education and Workforce
Kentucky Steam Heritage will be partnering with Estill County and other regional schools in establishing a vocational program for tech students who are interested in learning a skilled trade. Our involvement in restoring machines of the past can help prepare future generations.
Students will be able to work in programs that develop skills in:
tool and die
many other skills as curricula are developed
Programs will also be developed for hosting workshops for both industry professionals, and for individuals wishing to explore a career in steam locomotive maintenance and repair. We eventually hope to host numerous conventions and multi-day conferences that focus on rail preservation and its associated crafts.
The campus will also integrate Eastern Kentucky’s industrial past with the region’s natural beauty. The campus will eventually integrate walking and jogging paths through the entire property. Picnic benches with shelters will be interspersed throughout the site a land-feature will be integrated into the center of the wye, featuring a railroader's memorial, honoring the region's railroad workers.
A campground is also planned, and visitors may even be able to spend the night in a vintage caboose.