GUEST POST from Don: Ten-Foot Trestle

That the presence of railroads for small farm communities was of great importance a century or more ago is an understatement.  It allowed people in villages and rural communities to move their crops and animals to market and receive back products from distant cities.

Railroads also created some problems.  Farmers often had fields or herds on both sides of the tracks.  Workers and shop keepers had to cross multiple tracks to get to town.  Yet train companies had their own schedules to keep.  Sometimes that involved stopping on side tracks for long periods of time to wait for other trains which were travelling the other direction.  This weaving of train schedules occasionally caused long delays for these workers and farm families.

The ten-foot trestle, linked below, was built in 1889 in Woodford County to allow better travel, but it was not appropriate less than 30 years later.  Trucks needed improved roads and taller underpasses in the early 1900s, and two-way auto traffic needed wider passages.

From casual observation there appears to be no physical reason the rail roadbed was built with this particular trestle; especially since it is so low and not very long.  Building trestles was generally avoided where unnecessary since they were expensive compared with dumping soil and gravel.  The average usage of trestles or bridges to gravel ballast was less than 2%, and the less the better.  Wood trestles, in particular required careful inspection and maintenance.  This trestle was repaired and upgraded after a century of use.  Rail ties are made to last about 25 years but the iron rails themselves are possibly original as they can last longer than a century with regular use.

Further investigation revealed that Milner Road was the original route heading west to Lawrenceburg, a town across the river, but that road is now only a remnant of that route.  A new highway has replaced it and US 62 no longer crosses the tracks.

For those into railroading it is “a seven-bent structure with three sets of wooden supports on either side of the center passageway.”  I wish I knew what that means.

This particular trestle is only used now by the Bluegrass Railroad Museum for an inexpensive round-trip train tour to the Kentucky River.  The 90 minute trip is offered to guests who can stand lack of some creature comforts (like bathroom facilities).

Whether by train or by car I think this trestle is worth a look if you are in the area.


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