Paris to Frankfort

The Frankfort and Cincinnati Railroad

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Note: Drawn from Forty Miles, Forty Bridges; The Story of the Frankfort & Cincinnati Railroad, by Kenneth R. Hixson

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Abandoned distillery on "The Whiskey Route" in the town of Stamping Grounds, KY. Photo by Howard E. Espravnik, October 2004.

The Frankfort and Cincinnati Railroad operated between the towns of Paris and Frankfort, KY. It was a 40-mile shortline railroad that had connections on both ends by the Louisville & Nashville. Near the midway point of Georgetown, KY, it crossed the Southern Railroad. The F&C, known as "The Whiskey Route", serviced many distilleries on the line. It had no affiliation with Cincinnati.

Construction for the railroad, known then as the Kentucky Midland Railway, began in Frankfort in early 1888. The rails to Georgetown were finished in June 1889. The rest of the line from Georgetown to Paris was completed in January 1890. In 1899, the railroad changed its name to Frankfort & Cincinnati Railroad.

The F&C abandoned the line from Paris to Georgetown in 1967. They also tried to abandon the rest of the railroad, but the Frankfort distilleries objected. In March 1970 the ICC gave permission for the railroad to abandon 18.2 miles from Georgetown to Elsinore, KY.

In 1985 a derailment that damaged a trestle near Frankfort sealed the fate of the line. It was then decided to abandon it, since the F&C could not afford to rebuild the bridge.

By 1987, all tracks (about 10 miles) were removed putting an end to the Frankfort & Cincinnati Railroad.

Thanks to Brian Gregg for contributing information about this route.

Recent developments regarding the F&C include the demolition of the Stamping Ground distillery.

I am attempting to recreate portions of the Frankfort & Cincinnati in O scale: I have all three of the little railroad's 70-tonner diesels in O scale brass, plus one representing sister Pinsly RR Montpelier & Barre and one caboose. Any additional information that anyone might share will be greatly appreciated...

mike gillespie
Georgetown, KY
12/11/2008

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I neglected to mention in the previous post that additional information about the F&C is also available in a book entitled THE BEST SCHOOL I EVER ATTENDED (Once Upon Our Depot Platform). The volume is available at selected bookstores in central Kentucky, or from me:

    Mike Gillespie, Minister<br />    8104 Greenwood Avenue<br />    Munster, Indiana 46321

mike gillespie
Georgetown, KY
12/11/2008

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Are we absolutely sure the F&C crossed over to the North side of 460 near Newtown? I saw this on the map Kenneth Hixson included in his book Forty Miles, Forty Bridges. However, I've tried to trace the old roadbed in Newtown, and I can't find this crossing.

Eric Horine
Lexington, KY
5/21/2009

[Closer inspection of both a topo map and satellite imagery of the area around Newtown reveals the ROW almost certainly remained south of US 460. Perhaps a previous, older alignment went north of the highway?  —Greg Harrison]

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Greg,

Yes. Your map of the F&C on this website is correct from what I've seen of the roadbed remnants and satellite imagery. Perhaps Hixson's map was a proposed route?

Eric Horine
Lexington, KY
5/21/2009

[Perhaps it was; at any rate, I am very interested in finding out!  —Greg Harrison]

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Being a former FCIN employee and having ridden the train between Georgetown and Paris several times - I can assure you that the FCIN did not cross over US 460 at Newtown. Just paralleled US 460 within about 100 feet through Newtown. Lot's of incorrect information about this line has been published recently. A real shame.

Ed Vasser
Frankfort, KY
6/25/2009

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If you look closely at Hixson's map, you will see that the town of Newtown is also slightly north of Rt. 460. It is directly on Rt. 460. Apparently the route of the railroad was drawn on an overlay of a highway map, and when assembled by the printer, the overlay of the RR and the town of Newtown it was placed a bit too far north. The F&C right-of-way came close to and paralled Rt.460 for a few hundred yards as it neared Newtown from the east, but never crossed north of the road. It then passed the south edge of town as it made a slight turn south and crossed Rt. 122 about a quarter mile south of Rt. 460. It then crossed Elkhorn Creek about 200 yards west of 122 on a steel girder deck bridge. I walked and photographed the right of way when it was still intact, and have been back several times since. It is becoming increasingly hard to spot the right of way.

Joe Biancke
Hamilton, OH
9/27/2009

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I have a USGS map of the line, and I would be glad to post it on this site if anyone is interested.

Joe Biancke
Hamilton, OH
9/27/2009

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I am planning to loosely model the F&C. My friends in Frankfort have taken me on the Bourbon Trail and I developed an interest in the F&C (and bourbon!). Could someone help me pinpoint the location of the trestle shown on pg92 in Forty Miles, Forty Bridges?

Jeff Geis
Cincinnati, OH
12/7/2009

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I vividly remember a small trestle located just to the east of where this line crossed over US 25 in Georgetown. That was in the mid to late 60s. I lived in Lexington and had family that lived about a mile north of that crossing on US 25. I went over that crossing many, many times (mostly on Sundays) but never remember seeing a train on the line. I've also seen remnants of the line near KY 922. In fact, I believe there are still a couple of bridges over Elkhorn Creek. If you go to Bing Maps and look where the line crossed 922 and do the proper orientation Bird's Eye view, you can see two of those bridges that still remain. One is an easy view from a car, if you happen by that way.

Rick Sullivan
Louisville, KY
3/3/2011

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I am writing a corporate history of the Pinsly Railroads and am including the Frankfort & Cincinnati. If people have information or would like to forward information on this line, I would be greatful for their cooperation. I would partcilarly like to hear from those who worked on the line and why they felt it was shut down.

Cary Poole
Flower Mound,, TX
6/13/2011

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I'm trying to find information - and a map - of the Louisville and Cincinnati Short Line Railroad and a wreck in September, 1881 near Anchorage east of Louisville in which train fell into Floyds Fork, killing eight people

I'm looking for a map of that old line

Bob Hill
Utica, IN
7/21/2011

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My comments would encourage Joe Biancke to make his photos available for those interested in finding some of the areas along the rail line. I know I would enjoy looking at them and possibly obtaining copies if they were available for some areas. I own a piece of property where the line went through.

Bobby Jones
Georgetown, KY
9/19/2011

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Around 1988-89, I plotted the rail line from downtown Frankfort to Elsinore. I was working for an Engineering company at the time and a client wanted us to map it to see if it might be feasible for a "rails to trails". It took months to do the deed research back to the original property owners and plot the track as it was originally laid. I will never forget it. It was a neat project. I also remember the derailment back in 1985. The derailment damaged a very small trestle in a subdivision called "Indian Hills". I find it hard to believe that the damage to that trestle "sealed the fate" of the line, but I could be wrong. Oranges (if I remember correctly) went everywhere from one of the cars.

K. Palmer
Frankfort, KY
3/6/2012

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Anyone know where the train station for this line was located?

Thanks!

Jenna Ross
Georgetown, KY
5/6/2012

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K. Palmer: The collapse of Bridge 4 in Indian Hills was on Jan 4, 1982. I was conductor on the train that night. The car was emptied (it contained corn) and re-railed and an L&N B&B gang quickly rebuilt the damaged portion of that trestle. A derailment in 1985 is the one that damaged Bridge 5 over Elkhorn Creek and ultimately allowed the FCIN to finish abandoning the line.

Jeanna Ross: The FCIN station in Georgetown KY was located on the northwest corner of Chambers Ave and Washington St. In Frankfort and Paris, the L&N stations were used, but during its lifetime, the FCIN had small stations located all along their line, including Elsinore (Forks of Elkhorn), Switzer, Newtown, and Centerville (actually located in the General Store in Centerville).

Ed Vasser
Frankfort, KY
6/7/2012

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the f & c never crossed over u.s. 460 near newtown. it remained south of u.s. 460 from georgetown to paris. my grandfather, father, 3 uncles and an uncle in-law worked their entire careers for the f & c.

danny mcclain
centerville, KY
11/21/2012

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i'm from centerville but live in frankfort. i lived the first 15 years of my life in centerville and can remember the old depot which was located on the russell cave road. there was an old weigh station there made of lumps of coal. i remember going there with my grandfather harp to buy a truckload of coal that he used to heat his house. there was a section gang of workers that were station in centerville. their equipment was kept just west of the depot. i have an old picture of that gang. my gandfather mcclain was the foreman.

danny mcclain
cenetrville, KY
11/21/2012

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I was the last Southern freight agent in Georgetown,Ky. I have a few of the F&C envelopes from interchange in my railroad collection. Neat history.

Max Gideon
Danville, KY
12/5/2012

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The old route does not cross over 460, there is an old bridge to the right about 30 yards from hwy 992 heading towards Lexington. there a about 4 trackless bridges that still cross Elk horn creek today

Tyler Hardin
Newtown, KY
1/22/2013

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To my knowledge, there have been two books written about the F&C: "Forty Miles and Forty Bridges" by Hixson, "Frankfort and Cincinnati Railroad" by Vasser and Sudduth, and Bogart's "Railroad, Trolley, and Rail Lines of Frankfort, Kentucky" has a chapter on the F&C. All have photos.

The Louisville & Cincinnati line is today's CSX (former L&N) line between those two cities. It is still referred to as the "Short Line" by CSX personnel. The route is still very busy, and little changed from its beginning. It appears on Kentucky's official highway map, and detailed maps showing the line are available from the United States Geological Survey.

Joe Biancke
Hamilton, OH
8/14/2013

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I might add that Google Earth maps, and Mapquest maps show the Short Line very clearly. And by using their satellite images, and with a little extra work, much of the F&C route can still be detected.

Joe Biancke
Hamilton, OH
8/15/2013

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I was born (Jan. 15, 1935) and lived three years above the Switzer Station and General Store, owned by my grandfather and his brother. That space now is a horse paddock, last time I visited. Does anyone happen to have a photo of the old station?

Charles Richardson
Phoenix, AZ
2/18/2014

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The Hixson and Vasser/Sudduth books both offer great information about the F&C - I have both and highly recommend them. Additional insights and vignette's of F&C people and operations are also contained in the book I wrote about events and activities around the Southern Railway depot in Georgetown, Kentucky, my hometown. The book is entitled THE BEST SCHOOL I EVER ATTENDED (Once Upon Our Depot Platform), and still available from me.

Mike Gillespie
Munster, IN
6/11/2014

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