A Chessie System GP-7 crests the grade at Mountain Top, the steepest on the Lexington Subdivision, at nearly 3% in both directions. This was between Olive Hill and Grahn. (C&OHS)

Railroad returning to Olive Hill, in model form

The Olive Hill Historical Society is taking up another historical initiative by forming a committee that will build an HO scale model railroad that will be based on the line that used to run through Carter, Rowan, Bath, Montgomery, Clark, and Fayette counties. It is the former Chesapeake & Ohio’s Lexington Subdivision.

The railroad left in 1985 after the decline of the firebrick industry. With little overhead traffic to justify keeping the line open, early CSX management considered the line financially unfeasible to keep open with steep grades and many water crossings.

However, the railroad’s importance in the history of both Olive Hill and Carter County cannot be overstated. Along with providing careers for many, it served many local businesses during its time, creating a prosperous economy in the early and mid-20th century.

The Olive Hill Historical Society hopes to preserve this history with a model railroad display with dioramas featuring several towns the railroad passed through on its way from Ashland to Lexington, including Olive Hill. The display will be in HO scale, or 1/87th the size of real railroad equipment. It offers the greatest selection of supplies, materials, locomotives, and rolling stock.

The society has dedicated a former classroom in the east wing of the historic Olive Hill High School for the project. With nearly 600 square feet of space, it is expected to be one the larger publicly accessible model railroad layouts in the region.

The committee will initially be headed by Cory Claxon, an avid local railroad historian. He has studied the line for several years after picking up an affinity for railroading and local history after graduating from East Carter High School in 2014.

The attraction is expected to be a regional draw for those that lived along the railroad’s corridor and will help further the mission of the Olive Hill Historical Society and the Olive Hill Center for Arts and Education.

A meeting has been set for April 16, 2022, at 5 p.m. at the historic Olive Hill High School. It is located at 120 Comet Drive, Olive Hill, Ky. 41164. Anyone interested in being involved with this is encouraged to attend. You will be able to enter from the east side of the building, through the library doors.

For more information, contact Claxon at (606) 225-5912 or by email at [email protected].

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.