west kentucky high iron

Hopkinsville's Rail Bed Recycling Project

Jan 14, 2014
Casey Northcutt

This story originally aired Sunday, March 3, 2013

As the nation becomes increasingly conscious about the environment, people recycle more and more, giving new life to various items. Abandoned railways, however, are usually not among them. Yet, the city of Hopkinsville has begun a Rails to Trails project, revamping an old Fort Campbell track into a beautiful new walkway, which officials hope will add flavor to the city.

Building the Cadiz Railroad

Mar 4, 2013

 Railroads were an integral part of the infrastructure throughout Western Kentucky in the 19th and 20th centuries. But what of the men who undertook the backbreaking task of building and maintaining the rails in an era without mechanical aid? 

In the basement of Don Clayton’s Madisonville home a different world exists. The 1800 square foot space is home to hundreds of O-scale model train cars and dozens of engines. A group of men aged 19 to 82 gather weekly in Don’s basement to run their trains, many of them have been doing it for 30 years.

The Cadiz Record

The Great Depression, along with floods and a severe drought in the 1930s, left many Kentucky families with the difficult decision to keep their hungry children or send them away to a place where they could be taken care of and fed. For at least one orphanage in Jefferson County, that meant overcrowding, and eventually the children’s home began sending orphans across the state on westbound trains.

Earlington Depot
Shelly Baskin / WKMS

The history of many towns in west Kentucky has been shaped, in large part, by the coal companies and railroads that brought in jobs, money, and people. During the golden years of coal and rail in the early 20th century these towns boomed. And when the coal ran out and the trains stopped rolling, they crashed. The city of Earlington, Kentucky is one of those towns.

John Paul Henry Photography

On an unseasonably cool May night in 1935, railroad special agent Richard Kelley was gunned down by thieves trapped in a freight car in Paducah's south Illinois Central yard.  Todd Hatton speaks with Kelley's daughter about his legacy, and with the former prosecutor and Paducah mayor who wants to make sure the policeman is remembered.

VMV Paducahbilt Is Alive And Growing

Mar 3, 2013
John Paul Henry

VMV Paducahbilt, a subsidiary of National Railway Equipment, is one of the oldest locomotive factories in America and one of the largest suppliers of locomotives in the world. Built in 1925 by the Illinois Central Railroad, this factory hasn’t shut its doors in 85 years. The facility, located off Kentucky Avenue, is a testament to how big rail is alive and growing.