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  • History of the Kentucky, Virginia, & Ohio (KV&O) Leatherwood Branch and Dent Yards

    The KV&O started out when it aquired Dent yards and the Letherwood branch from the L&N in 1935. KV&O went to L&N about aquiring the yard and branchline due to L&N didn't seeing the business on this branch line that it hoped for, and the locomotives and equipment was being serviced at Hazard, KY and L&N didn't have use for the yards and it was going to abandoned and the yard and have it torn up. Once an agreement was made and the KV&O aquired the yard and branch line a small locomotive/car shop with a transfer table was built where the KV&O were able to build there own fleet of coal cars. Dent yard already had a turntable and a locomotive faclity.
    The tracks on the Leatherwood Branch ended at mile post 0LF269.7. This was also the location of Blue Diamond Coal Company's Preperation Plant. The KV&O seen potential on the Letherwood branch an soon was able to bring in 3 other coal companies, Southeast Coal, D&D Mining and Steel, Cypress Coal Company and a logging company Dinky Lumber company to the Letherwood branch. It didnt stop there. In early 1940s the line was extened the line another 35 miles to Loyall, KY to interchange with the L&N at there yard there. The L&N tracks of the CV and the tracks to KV&O was only 8 miles apart but due to the grades of having to clime Black Mountian the tracks had to wind though the mountains to keep a consistent grade. Even with the extra miles added the grade was still between 1.8 and 2.2 percent.
    With the extra miles of track come other problems the KV&O didn't expect. Due to a forest fire caused by a steam locomotive, KV&O had to come up with another form of power for use on Black Mountain. KV&O reserched there options and decited to electrify the line over Black Mountain. 4 Bi-Polars was purchased from the Milwaukee Road. A coal fire powerplant for the electrified line was built at the summit of Cumberland mountain. This move turned out better that the KV&O expected and soon the electrified line was extended a total of 150 miles. Over the years the electrified line seen Boxcabs, and Little Joes that was built on the same design as the Milwaukee Road locomotoves, and GG1s from the Pennsylvania Railroad. Also purchesed from GE was 4 axles locomotive called Rectifiers for use on the branch lines and later E33 for use on the mile line. A few other types of electrified locomotives was built in the KV&O shops at Dent but none went into mass production. These locomotives was only used on the KV&O.



    1935: The Kentucky, Virginia & Ohio Railroad (KV&O) was started On May 31, 1935, when a group of investors purchased 11 miles of trackage off the L&N Railroad in Eastern Kentucky.

    Along with the trackage KV&O also purchased 3 locomotives. 2 Baldwin 0-8-0 was purchased off L&N Railroad, and one Bladwin 0-6-0 off an unknown railroad. Through out the next 5 years 15 more steam locomotives was purchased from other railroads including C&O, B&O, V&O & the L&N to name a few.


    1941: KV&O exteded the Letherwood branch to Loyall, KY where an interchange with the L&N was made.

    1946: KV&O decided to electrify the Black Mountain line due to a forest fire that was stard by a passing steam locomotive. 4 Bi-Polars was purchased from the Milwaukee Road. A coal fire powerplant for the electrified line was built at the summit of Cumberland mountain. The overhead wire was 25 feet from top of the rail and was 3400 volts. 6 Substation was built through out the 150 mile line.

    1949: KV&O Purchased the Southearn end of the Rockhouse from the L&N. This included the main line going to Deane, KY and also the Whitesburg Branch.


    1953: diesel came to the KV&O Railroad, for trail runs. Alco arranged for L&N to lone units FA2 #352, FA2 #356 & FB2 #201 and borrowed from the C&O an Alco RSD5 5583, and Alco also sent there demonstrator RS3 #1607 for a few weeks before sending it to the Interstate Railroad. Being impressed with the operations of the diesels compared to the operation of the steam locomotives. In January 1954 the KV&O purchased 2 sets of FA2-FB2-FA2 units and 4 Alco RS3 units. The larger 6 axle unit did good on the main line but showed to be to big for some of the narrow curves on some of the branch lines.

    1957: Business looked good for the KV&O railroad, but a big change came. 2 Short lines was purchase. Southern Ohio Railroad in Ohio and the other in Virginia the Virginia Western Railroad. With the purchese of the shortline in Virginia a link to the Interstate Railroad was made at Roda,VA. where a small interchange yard was built.

    1959: KV&O made bold move and purchesed the Virginian Railway. The reason for this was so it could export the coal, mined from Eastern KY to the coal docks at Sewalls Point, WV. The Virginian Railway retain it's idenity but was fully owned by the KV&O.


    In the 1960's many used locomotive were purchased along with track from the L&N, C&O, and N&W. Connection was also made with the Virginian line between Deane, KY and Gilbert, WV.

    1966: Most steam power locomotives was retired. Baldwin 2-8-2 #12 was keep for excursion and Baldwin 2-8-0 #10 is on display at the KV&O main office in Kentucky. Alco 2-6-6-2 #23 was retired in 1967 along with Alco 2-8-8-2 #20.

    1967 3 Boxcab sets where purchesed from Milwaukee Road


    1974 5 Little Joes was purchesed and built on the same spectification as the Milwaukee Road.


    The 1980s showed to be hard on the KV&O. With out help the KV&O would have to be shut down. Then on May 31, 1981 the KV&O merged with D&D Mining & Steel. Which formed the EK Central Lines. But each railroad keep there own identity. 1985 KV&O open it's Excursion lines on the Eastern, KY Division. Many locomotives that was purchased the following years was rebuilt and the shops at Dent,KY