Midway to Host Heritage Day Festival

MIDWAY, Ky. - A picturesque Central Kentucky town will be celebrating its railroad heritage this summer, centering a day-long festival around the arrival of a historic locomotive that hasn’t visited the region in over sixty years. The city of Midway, Kentucky, along with Midway Renaissance Inc, and the Midway Merchants Association will be sponsoring a train-themed festival to honor the city’s heritage, as well as to celebrate the arrival of Chesapeake and Ohio steam locomotive 2716. Midway Heritage Day will be held on Saturday, July 27 and will feature live music, food vendors, historical displays and walking tours, as well as an up close and personal look at the massive visiting locomotive.

The 400-ton engine is slated to be restored to operation, taking center stage at the Kentucky Rail Heritage Center, a blossoming Eastern Kentucky economic development project based in Estill County.

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The Kentucky Steam Heritage Corporation, a 501(c)(3) public charity and Blueprint Partner of SOAR, is spearheading efforts to help revitalize the regional economy in Appalachian Kentucky with a multi-faceted rail-based initiative. The locomotive’s move will be a mobile kick-off for the project, allowing the public to view a piece of the region’s past, and what may be a key part of its future.

Thanks to collaboration from both CSX Transportation and Nicholasville, Ky.-based R. J. Corman Railroad Group, the locomotive will be transported from the Kentucky Railway Museum, in New Haven, to Estill County over the weekend of July 26-28. The unprecedented event will include several stops and a public excursion on July 26, the proceeds from which will be shared by Kentucky Steam Heritage and the Kentucky Railway Museum, both non-profit entities.

“When the Kentucky Steam Heritage Corporation approached us about partnering with CSX and others to move the C&O 2716 across our home state of Kentucky, we were thrilled to have the opportunity to take part in the historic move that is part of a larger plan to use the railroads to revitalize parts of Eastern Kentucky,” said R. J. Corman Railroad Group, LLC President and CEO Ed Quinn. “Working with Midway is always a pleasure, and their willingness to host this unique and fun event brings us even more excitement for the move.”

Christy Reaves, President of the non-profit Midway Renaissance, Inc, said the concept of “Heritage Day” was initiated by the news of the locomotive’s visit, and was created to revolve around the heritage, history, and culture of Midway, Kentucky.

“The citizens of Midway look forward to welcoming people into the community to celebrate the rich heritage of the railroad and the extraordinary sense of community that Midway enjoys. The festival will feature in-depth presentations, artifacts, discussions and tours regarding the history of Midway,” she said in a prepared statement Tuesday.

Several train-related activities will be presented, including the dedication of a revitalized model train layout of downtown Midway, a vintage train exhibit and a trackless train ride through town. All events are free and open to the public.

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The main attraction for the event, locomotive number 2716, was built in 1943 and visited the bluegrass region frequently while in service until its retirement in 1956. It was one of the largest locomotives to ever run on the line between Louisville and Ashland. After being retired, it was donated to the Kentucky Railway Museum, now located in New Haven, Kentucky. Kentucky Steam Heritage, an Estill County-based non-profit entity, leased the engine in 2016 with plans to eventually run it on excursions and use its operation as an educational tool. The locomotive is slated to be on display in Midway from 10 am until 1 pm. The schedule is subject to change.

 Both Kentucky Railway Museum and Kentucky Steam Heritage will have booths at the event, promoting rail tourism on both sides of the state. The locomotive will make several other stops over the course of the weekend, and more information regarding the engine’s trek across the bluegrass will be released in the coming weeks. 

For more details and updates, information on membership, donations and for ordering tickets, click here or visit the event website.

For more info about the Kentucky Railway Museum, click here.

Further information on Midway Renaissance, Inc click here.