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The Big South Fork Scenic Railway 6/18/2017

by Chris Guenzler

I left the Parkland Motel and headed toward the depot. I pulled over after the bridge and walked out onto the bridge over the Norfolk Southern mainline. Then I started to take my pictures. But first, a little history of this exciting railroad.

The Big South Fork Scenic Railway

The Big South Fork Scenic Railway is a heritage railroad in Stearns, Kentucky.

The route runs for 16 miles through lush countryside in the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area. There is a stop in the historic coal mining town of Blue Heron, Kentucky which can be toured. There is also a gift shop and snack bar with picnic shelter as well as hiking trails in Blue Heron.

The railroad is restoring a large 0-6-0 steam locomotive from the Union railroad built by ALCO in 1944 and uses diesel locomotives for its excursion trains.

The adjacent McCreary County Museum (admission included in train ticket) demonstrates life in Kentucky's coal company towns during the first half of the 20th century.

My visit

From the bridge, I shot these pictures.

The Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus Train cars that the Big South Fork Scenic Railway bought.

The train from the bridge. Then I parked the rental car in the parking lot and went inside to pick up my comp ticket for today's trip.

The rear of the train before boarding took place. The consist of this train was Big South Fork Scenic SW9 106, coach 1006 and coach 1005. We were all boarded and then I heard a horn on the Norfolk and Southern coming my way.

My view of SW9 106. I really miss the S-1 105 that was on the train back in 2007 when Chris Parker and I rode it for the first time.

NS 7534 North at Stearns, Kentucky. The train started to move and we left the depot before the end of the train arrived, so I could show you the end of the freight train.

The Circus Train cars once again, this time from the train.

Passengers aboard the train.

Views along the tracks.

The train goes into the tunnel.

The train exiting the tunnel.

Our train travels along Paunch Creek.

View looking back up the grade.

The view ahead.

The natural forest of southern Kentucky.

Interesting rock formations along our route.

Views of Paunch Creek.

Approaching Barthell Coal Camp.

Barthell Coal Camp.

Also here is Union Railroad 0-6-0 14 at Barthell Coal Camp.

Barthell Company Store Number 2.

Views of Paunch Creek as we continue our journey.

View ahead of the train.

The Big South Fork of the Cumberland River.

This was as far as our train went. We used the switchback to change direction and we flipped the seats.

The main line back up to Stearns.

We ran along the road to the station at Blue Heron.

The coal tipple at Blue Heron. On this trip, I did not have to walk up on top because I had done that during my previous trip.

Rear view of our train.

Big South Fork Scenic SW9 106.

The train at Blue Heron.

A final picture of the coal tipple at Blue Heron. I bought a Coke and sat at the table under cover and drank it. After using the bathroom, I then boarded the train and rested. Once everyone was back aboard the train, we headed back to Stearns, ending an excellent trip aboard the Big South Fork Scenic Railroad. A special thank you to the Big South Fork Scenic Railroad for having me here today to ride their train. I left the parking lot and drove to Arby's where I bought my dinner for the evening. I watched an NCIS marathon before I called it a night.