The Tripplet & Big Sandy Railroad

1890 – 1894

Rowan County’s First Logging Railroad

In the late 19th century logging was the major industry in eastern Kentucky. Gigantic virgin growth was readily available, but unless the logging was near a river where the logs could be floated to the mill, there was no way to extract them from the forest and get them to the mill, as automobiles and constructed roads were still years in the future.

Enter the small narrow gauge railroads, smaller locomotives, cars and tracks which could wind into valleys and hollows where larger standard gauge trains could not go. Tracks could be laid very close to the site of the logging, the logs loaded, and then carried out to the mill for processing.

Rowan County saw two such narrow gauge lines constructed. The first was the Triplett & Big Sandy Railroad (T&BS). Operating a single geared locomotive, the railroad ran from the sawmill at Rodburn, Kentucky, up Christy Creek, paralleling what is now Highway KY 32 (which would not be built for several years). The line ran for some five miles to the major logging areas and returned with loads of enormous logs for the Rodburn mill.

Four years later in 1894 when the timber in that area had largely been cut, the rails and ties were pulled so they might be used to lay another line in a new location and the Triplett and Big Sandy Railroad
faded into oblivion.

Today virtually nothing remains of the T&BS.