This is the south portal of the tunnel that passes through a ridge south of Hazard Yard. The tunnel is about 450′ long.
The box truss trestle passes over the North Fork of the Kentucky River. Vandals (grrrr) have relieved the bridge of its maker/date plate. However, the bridge resembles others on this line that were made by Virginia Bridge and Iron Company in Roanoke in 1912.
Back in 1945, Blue Diamond Coal Company, out of Knoxville TN, opened up the Leatherwood mine complex, about ten miles up Leatherwood Creek from the North Fork of the Kentucky River. At the same time, the L&N ran a spur from their main line on the north side of the river to the mines and, in order to handle the vast amount of coal coming out of Leatherwood, the railroad also built a breakdown yard a little further up the river toward Hazard, near a town called Dent (it’s gone now). At the intersection of the main line and the spur (at 37.12946, -83.08649, nearest Google Earth locator is Cornettsville KY), a complex was built to service the locomotives. It included a turntable (see it here), a pumping station to bring water up from the river to a tank used to service the steam locomotives, and various other buildings. The remains of the turntable are still visible:
To get a sense of scale, that’s my buddy standing over on the other side of the foundation (he’s dressed in white). The remnants of the pumping station and various other buildings are still there, also. This yard operation only lasted about a decade or so.
This is looking toward where Dent Yard once was:
But one thing had me puzzled. Just a short way down the river from the main trestle, I saw these:
Another bridge, an old style bridge, didn’t seem to fit. There was no need for a wye here and these piers seem to predate 1945. It took a bit of researching, but I located a map of Perry County from 1937 and got my information. The L&N came into Hazard in 1912 and spread out to service both timber operations and small coal mines. In 1937, there was already a main line in place here. I suspect this bridge carried a light rail line, possibly for timber (logging was certainly taking place around Leatherwood Creek in that time period…small coal operations, too), across the river to the main line. How long it was viable, I have no idea.
Oh, that orange pipe crossing the river comes from a gas well across the tracks on the left.
I opted to show the approach and the tunnel because the tunnel isn’t particularly interesting. No date, but it was constructed in the 1940s when the L&N opened up the Leatherwood Branch (KY) to bring out coal from the massive Blue Diamond Mine complex. This portal is at 37.09080, -83.10304. The tunnel, a little over .25 mile long, curves through a ridge at a bend of Leatherwood Creek. The track here actually dates to 1940, mostly Bethlehem Steel rail. There are two trestles here: the closest is timber construction and the far one is deck girder, with no maker name/date plate. It didn’t appear to have ever had such a plate.
This is looking easterly. The track curves to the right practically at the portal. The line then goes on to what is now a partial wye over the North Fork of the Kentucky River down at the end of Dent Yard.