The Olive Hill Historical Society is taking another historic initiative by forming a committee that will build an HO scale model railroad that will be based on the line that ran through Carter, Rowan, Bath, Montgomery, Clark, and Fayette counties. . This is the old Lexington subdivision of Chesapeake & Ohio.
The railroad left in 1985 after the decline of the firebrick industry. With little air traffic to justify keeping the line open, CSX’s early management considered it financially impossible to keep the line open with steep grades and many water crossings.
However, the importance of the railroad to the history of Olive Hill and Carter County cannot be overstated. In addition to providing careers for many people, it served many local businesses in its time, creating a thriving economy in the early and mid 20th century.
The Olive Hill Historical Society hopes to preserve that history with a model railroad exhibit featuring dioramas depicting several towns the railroad passed through on its way from Ashland to Lexington, including Olive Hill. The display will be HO scale, which is 1/87th the size of actual railroad equipment. It offers the largest selection of supplies, materials, locomotives and rolling stock.
The company dedicated a former classroom in the east wing of historic Olive Hill High School for the project. With nearly 600 square feet of space, it is expected to be one of the largest publicly accessible model railroad systems in the region.
The committee will initially be led by Cory Claxon, a local railway history enthusiast. He studied the line for several years after gaining an affinity for the railroad and local history after graduating from East Carter High School in 2014.
The attraction is expected to be a regional draw for those who lived along the railroad corridor and will help further the mission of the Olive Hill Historical Society and the Olive Hill Center for Arts and Education.
A planning meeting has been set for Saturday, March 19 at 5 p.m. at historic Olive Hill High School. It is located at 120 Comet Drive, Olive Hill, 41164. Anyone interested in participating in this is encouraged to attend. You will be able to enter from the east side of the building, through the library doors.