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Bluegrass Scenic Railroad and Museum in Versailles, Kentucky 3/30/2024

by Chris Guenzler

Elizabeth and I drove from New Haven to Versailles, picked up our tickets for the 2:00 PM train and had plenty of time to explore this museum, which was new for both of us.

Bluegrass Scenic Railroad

Operating out of the Woodford County Park, the railroad offers an eleven mile round-trip excursions through the horse farms of Kentucky to Tyrone, where the train stops at Young's High Bridge and allows passengers to disembark and view the bridge and the Kentucky River valley area. The railroad uses diesel locomotives, of which it has four operational and two for static display. It also has about 40 pieces of rolling stock. Equipment is stored in three separate locations along the museum's 5.5 miles of track, all of which can be seen while riding the excursions.


The museum was founded in 1976 by some members of the Bluegrass Railroad Club, a model railroad group. It began to acquire equipment from local railroads, initially storing the equipment in the old Louisville and Nashville Railroad's Lexington yard which is now part of the parking lot for Rupp Arena. The equipment was moved to a siding at Eastern State Hospital in Lexington, then to the Bluegrass Army Depot grounds in Avon. In 1988, the museum moved to its present location on Highway 62 outside Versailles. After a fire in 2006, a partially burned house was remodelled into a station and museum.

Rail Line

In 1987–1988 five-and-a=half miles of railroad line from Versailles to the Kentucky River and nine and a half acres of land in Woodford County Park just outside Versailles were acquired to begin the process of creating a museum site and train ride.

The rail line was originally built by the Louisville Southern Railroad in the 1880s. For a brief time, it was leased by the Monon Railroad. Later, it became part of the Southern Railway. While operated by the Southern, a switching accident at the Tyrone Generating Station caused coal shipments to be received by truck and hastened the end of the usefulness of this portion of the line. Later, the Norfolk Southern Railway operated the line. A few years into NS ownership, the portion of the line between the Kentucky River and Versailles was slated for abandonment, and subsequently sold to the museum.

The line from the Kentucky River to Lawrenceburg was abandoned and sold to a scrapper in 2009. The rails on Young's High Bridge and into Lawrenceburg were then quickly removed and sold for scrap. Young's High Bridge itself has been bought by a private party who have formed a LLC to develop the area into a tourist attraction. Vertigo Bungee, a loose band of thrill-seeking adrenaline junkies known for appearances on MTV sports since the 1990's, has since developed Young's High Bridge into a permanent bungee jumping platform. Young's High Bridge is now considered to be the highest permanent platform bridge jump in North America. Meanwhile, the railroad line from Versailles to Lexington has been sold first to the Lexington and Ohio Railroad and now to the R.J. Corman Railroad/Central Kentucky Lines.

Our visit

Louisville and Nashville caboose 1086 built by the railroad in 1964.

Bluebrass Scenic Railroad coach 1314, nee Central Railroad of New Jersey 1314, built by Pressed Steel in 1931.

Bluegrass Scenic Railroad coach 3240, nee Delaware Lackawnna "low roof" M.U. trailer 340, built by Pullman in 1925.

Bluegrass Scenic Railroad coach 3247, nee Delaware Lackawnna "low roof" M.U. trailer 347, built by Pullman in 1925.

Bluegrass Scenic coach 3478, ex. Columbus & Greenville 3 "John H. Hough Jr.", ex. Amtrak 4466, exx. Southern Pacific 2212, nee Chicago and North Western first class coach 3478, built American Car and Foundry in 1953.

United States Army H-12-44 1849 built by Fairbanks Morse in 1953.

Former United States Army kitchen car 89640 built by St. Louis Car Company in 1953 which became Amtrak 1301 and has been owned by Terry Herweh since 1983; he named it Uintah 98.

Southern Pacific baggage-dorm 3106, ex. Amtrak 1533, nee Texas and New Orleans 304, built by the Budd Company in 1950. This car has been owned by Terry Herweh since 1983.

Amtrak diner 8004, ex. Seaboard Coast Line 5904, exx. Seaboard Airline 6115, nee Florida East Coast "Fort Lauderdale", built by Budd Company in 1939. This car has been owned by Terry Herweh since 1983./P>

Shanty building on the property.

Illinois Central speeder MT-13 built by Fairmont circa 1949.

Track equipment.

Seaboard Coast Line instruction car 775000, ex. Seaboard Coast Line safety car 77500, exx. Seaboard Air Lines 7500, exxx. Pullman 14 section tourist car 1499, nee New York Central 12-sleeper 1499 built by Pullman in 1912. It was donated by CSX in 1989.

Southern Railway baggage car 487 built by Pullman in 1917.

Louisville and Nashville railway post office-baggage car 41034, builder and year unknown.

United States Army 40 foot box car 370300 built by the Army after World War II.

United States Army 40 foot box car 370017 built by the Army after World War II.

Ilinois Central Gulf GP7 7736, ex. Eastern Tennessesse 7736, exx. Illinois Central Gulf 7736, exxx. Illinois Central 7738, nee San Louis and San Francisco 534 built by Electro-Motive Division in 1950.

Chesapeake Western box car 102, builder and year unknown.

Monon caboose 81526 built by the railroad in the 1950's.

Norfolk and Western GP9 675 built by Electro-Motive Division in 1959.

Norfolk Western 675 and other engines.

Two of the open air cars that the railroad uses in the warmer weather.

We returned to the station, looked around the museum portion and purchased a mug and T-shirts then joined the queue to board.

At 2:00 PM, our train departed.

Falling Spring Theatre across the parking lot.

Leaving the station area.

Once out of the yard area, we were in the countryside.

View through the trees.

There were several rural farm crossings and the train always whistled on the approach.

One of the many horse farms in the area.

A home on this horse farm.

A barn on this property.

The rural nature of this area is evident.

Trees waiting for their leaves.

Another Kentucky barn.

Unique fences on the horse farm.

Homes on the property.

A car and motorcycle wait for us to pass; note this road is paved.

A variety of fences surround these horse farms.

A road leading to an unknown destination.

A forward view of our train.

We came to the end of the line where we stopped and were allowed off to photograph the unused railroad bridge and the adjacent highway bridge.

The former railroad trestle built in 1899, which spans 1,659 feet and is 285 above the Kentucky River. The bridge is named after Bennett Young, who was president of the Louisville Southern Railroad when the bridge was being built. Mr. Young was better known as a Confederate Calvary Lieutenant who led a raid on St. Albans, Vermont in 1864, making off with $200,000 and escaping across the Canadian border.

Tyrone station sign.

On the way back when we passed the horse farms, several ran away.

On the museum grounds was United States Army H-12-44 1849.

This being Easter weekend, the Easter Bunny had been on the train and was now at the station.

Bluegrass Railroad MRS-1 B-2043, nee United States Army B-2043, built by American Locomotive Company in 1953.

Baltimore and Ohio caboose 902460, nee Baltimore and Ohio C2460, built by the railroad in 1941.

One last look at the train.

Southern Railway caboose X741 built by the railroad, year unknown.

After an enjoyable excursion, we went to Cracker Barrel for dinner then checked into the Best Western Lexington Inn for the night.