Woodford County

Midway might become home for Corman locomotive now in Lexington

The train and dining cars were ready for the inaugural run of the R.J. Corman Lexington Dinner Train on August 14, 2013.
The train and dining cars were ready for the inaugural run of the R.J. Corman Lexington Dinner Train on August 14, 2013. cbertram@herald-leader.com

The steam locomotive that pulled the Lexington Dinner Train might be going to Midway as a permanent display.

The state Transportation Cabinet has approved a $193,000 grant to build a structure in Midway to house the “Old Smoky” locomotive owned by R.J. Corman Railroad, said Keith Buckhout with the cabinet’s office of public affairs.

The structure would be similar to but smaller than the glass house that now shelters the engine near Lexington Center, said Midway Mayor Grayson Vandegrift.

Vandegrift hopes the building would go near United Bank in Midway, where a L&N caboose is now located.

“We could put the steam engine inside there and maybe the caboose inside there, too,” Vandegrift said. He hopes to meet with bank representatives soon to discuss getting an approval or easement.

Vandegrift said “there wouldn’t be any excursions at all” from Midway. CSX Corp., which owns the rail line through Midway, wants to keep that line for freight rather than tourist excursions, the mayor said.

The total cost to erect the building is $241,000, Vandegrift said.

The Corman steam engine called “Old Smoky” is a Chinese-built locomotive. It was built in 1986 and was in use on Chinese railroads as recently as 2005, hauling coal and passengers.

Though built in China, the engine is based on a U.S. design from the 1920s. The engine has made appearances at the annual Midway Fall Festival.

The Lexington Dinner Train stopped running at the end of December. In 2014, as part of a court settlement, Corman agreed to disassemble the glass-walled structure with red Churchill Downs-like spires that houses its locomotive near Lexington Center.

Corman has until June to disassemble the building, said Noel Rush, vice president for finance and administration for the Nicholasville-based railroad company.

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