Patterson Branch Tunnel, um, no, it’s Log Mountain tunnel

In the late 1800s, the L&N was mad to get to Middlesborough KY.  The town was going to be the “Birmingham of the South” because of the good quality iron ore that had been found in the area.  English investors came in and everything went swimmingly until 1890, when the town basically burned down.  In 1893, a financial crisis hit and it was pretty much all over for Middlesborough.  But, not quite.  The town rebounded eventually and is still a bustling city in a meteor crater.  Anyway, the L&N, out of Louisville, of course, had a line into Corbin and began to extend it down to Middlesborough, reaching the city about the time of the fire.  Along the way, the company blasted out two tunnels.  This is the one closest to Middlesborough.  Track is not active. (note the informative comments below)


This is the south portal at 36.714330, -83.671929.  The tunnel is about 250′ long.








This is the north portal, which carries a 1944 refurb date.

7 thoughts on “Patterson Branch Tunnel, um, no, it’s Log Mountain tunnel

  1. butch adkins April 9, 2013 / 9:52 pm

    This is the tunnel on Log Mountain. The tunnel closest to Middlesborough was at Ferndale, just before the tracks go under US 25. It was daylighted in the mid-90s I believe.

    • bobtricities2011 April 10, 2013 / 5:44 pm

      According to my research, and re-checking my coordinates posted, this tunnel parallels Patterson Creek Road. Log Mountain is to the west of Middlesborough, this is to the north. I believe (I don’t have the topo here) the map identifies this tunnel as “Patterson Creek”. I’ll do more work on this, since the main book I have, by Maury Klein, is vague on information about any tunnels except for the Cumberland Gap one. There’s one more tunnel, on a long-abandoned (1980 or so) spur line off this main line going up by Clear Creek. I’ll post it soon. Thank you for your comment.

      • butch adkins April 10, 2013 / 8:45 pm

        Patterson Creek is along Log Mountain, anyway it’s the same place. The other tunnel you mention is on what is now a rail trail on the abandoned Chenoa Branch that is an easy walk from the Clear Creek Baptist College. The line was abandoned in the 40s I think. I have details on all the RR tunnels in KY so shoot me an email if you questions on any of them. Love your site by the way.

      • bobtricities2011 April 11, 2013 / 5:25 pm

        Wow! I didn’t know that, obviously. Thank you for the information. It’s good to know a reliable source for information on that area. We were in KY last Sunday, but I was just along for the ride as my buddy was documenting some drift mines in the Cumberland area. He’s not a big tunnel guy and I’m not into coal mines, but we both help each other out with research. Again, thank you for the insights on that Chenoa Branch of the L&N. Very much appreciated!

  2. Randall Knuckles December 9, 2022 / 2:47 pm

    The Chenoa spur still had some traffic in the 1960’s. (But not much) The rails were taken up much later than that. There is another tunnel at Little Log Mountain on the main line. Patterson Branch is a different location a few miles away. Not sure of a tunnel there.

      • Randall Knuckles December 10, 2022 / 8:36 pm

        Took a look today and there iISa tunnel at Patterson Branch. That would be known as Big Log Mountain. The other tunnel was at Little Log Mountain. The main highway used to cross over that tunnel but when road was rerouted, it appears that tunnel is gone.

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