Trains and railroads were the first major break of industrial-age transportation. They completely revolutionized transportation with transport overland dropping in cost and time spent traveling manyfold. But around much of the world, rails have struggled to adapt to the new world of trucks, highways, and airplanes. In other places they have been abandoned as the old mines they were built to service have fallen from use.

Kentucky, (like so many other states) has its fair share of abandoned and forgotten railways. Sometimes one will find decaying rail bridges, stations, and even car cars lift to decay out in the middle of nowhere. In addition, there are also many abandoned highways around the United States that one can explore - these are mostly sections that have been bypassed.

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Young's High Bridge -  Louisville Southern Railroad

Originally there was a plan to build a railway between Louisville and Virginia. A railroad was built between Louisville and Harrodsburg that ran through Shelbyville and Lawrenceburg. It was constructed in the 1880s and a railway bridge, called Young's High Bridge, was built across the Kentucky River gorge at Tyrone.

Unfortunately for the railroad, it wasn't long until automobiles were on the rise - and they ate into its passenger base. By December 27, 1937 passenger services ceased while the freight trains continued to run until 1979.

In 1985, the section of the line between Lawrenceburg and Versailles was mothballed - including the aging Young’s High Bridge.

  • Location: New Tyrone, Kentucky
  • Built: In 1889
  • Last Passenger Train: Crossed On December 27, 1937
  • Last Train: Crossed November 1985

The Young's High Bridge is an eye-catching bridge that was inches off being the highest bridge in the United States when it was built. The bridge spans 1,659 feet in length, is 283 feet above the river, and includes a 551-foot long cantilever span.

Today the bridge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Lexington Extension of the Louisville Southern Railroad.

  • Attractions: Bungee Jumping, Train Excursions, Sight Seeing

There are efforts to preserve this remarkable derelict bridge, in February 2013, it was was sold to Young's Bridge Partners LLC. They operate a bungee jumping platform, so visitors can now experience the thrill of jumping off what was nearly America's highest bridge.

Another attraction is taking an excursion with Bluegrass Scenic Railroad and Museum to the eastern end of the Young's High Bridge.

Related: Ride This Abandoned Train Through Pennsylvania's Mining History

Derelict Cabooses And Passenger Cars

According to Abandonedonline.com, there remain various derelict cabooses, passenger cars, and miscellaneous cars along with the former Louisville & Southern Railway Lexington to Lawrenceburg Division in central Kentucky.

  • Owned: By the Bluegrass Railroad Museum

They were stored for potential reuse and renovation by the Bluegrass Railroad Museum. It is unclear how many have been restored and how many remain in a debilitated state. If one takes the museum's excursion trains to the eastern side of the Young's High Bridge, one will get to see the old mothballed trains as well as the old spur to the now-demolished Tyrone Power Plant.

The museum offers both regularly scheduled weekend train rides and chartered rides as well as a choice of coach and first-class seating.

Prices for regularly scheduled weekend train rides:

Coach Seating:

  • Adults: $14
  • Children: Aged 2-12 $12

First-Class Seating:

  • Adults: $19
  • Children: $17

In addition, they offer their Open Air Car "Hobo Experience" priced at - Adults $19 Children $17.

Related: The Catskills Was Once A Bustling Resort Region, But Now It's Almost Completely Abandoned

About Kentucky's Network of Abandoned Railways

The commonwealth of Kentucky has a network of abandoned common carrier mainlines, narrow-gauge logging railroads, and short-lived spurs that served coal mines. Explorers can discover many of these today, some are restored as attractions while others are completely abandoned and overgrown.

  • Abandoned Track: Around 1,200 Miles Of Abandoned Track In Kentucky
  • Setting: Both Urban And Rural Settings

In 2001 Kentucky had only around 2,780 miles of track - that's down from over 4,000 miles at its peak in the 1930s. That means that as of 20 years ago the state has an astonishing 1,200 or so miles of abandoned railroad beds in Kentucky. Over 125 different abandoned rail lines have been identified by kyrailbeds.com.

These abandoned lines can be found in both urban and rural settings - and as of 2001, less than 1% were converted into recreational uses.

Other abandoned railway lines in Kentucky:

  • Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad Passenger Terminal: Ashland, Kentucky
  • The Frankfort and Cincinnati Railroad: Paris to Frankfort, KY
  • The Glo Spur: Glo, Kentucky
  • The Lexington Subdivision: Ashland to Lexington, KY
  • The Morehead & North Fork Railroad: Morehead to Redwine, KY
  • The Western Kentucky Railway: Providence to Blackford And Dixon, KY

To see more abandoned railways lines in Kentucky - and across the whole United States - refer to abandonedrails.com. They catalog all the abandoned railways in the USA. One can browse pictures of abandoned railroads and get a strange reminder of the past.

Next: Abandoned Detroit: What The Great Rust Belt City Is Like Today