One Tank Trip: Big South Fork Railway

Big South Fork, KY (WVLT) - Years ago, coal mining was a main staple of Kentucky life. Now, you can relive those times. Come along with us as we take a leisurely trip on the Big South Fork Scenic Railroad.

You can get there and back on just a tankful of gas and a shovel full of coal.

From April through November this old coal engine chugs it's way through the Kentucky mountains, hauling passengers deep within the Big South Fork recreation area. Bosco's been doing it for 28 years.

"I've seen just about everything out here when you're dealing with tourists for 15 to 16 years, you've seen just about everything," general manager Mark Jordan said.

"We started in stearns, we're going down hill, we'll actually drop about 600 feet elevation," engineer Gene "Bosco" Ross said.

Years ago, the town of Stearns, Kentucky was built around a mining and logging empire. That same railroad now provides a three hour tour to families. You'll meander your way along the rapids of the Big South Fork River to a re-creation of a mining camp called Barthel. $125 will even rent you one of the cabins for the night.

The half-way point of the trip stops here, it's an old mining community way back in the woods called Blue Heron.

Diorama's depict the struggles of hard working coal miners decades ago. There are plenty of areas to explore whether you are a hiker or just a sightseer. Your ticket will also get you a free hotdog and a coke in the concession stand.

An hour and a half later, you're headed home, and for most it's left a lasting impression.

"Very beautiful scenery, lot of streams, mountains and things to look at," one tourist said.

"Really enjoyed it, better than what we thought it would be," another tourist said.

The cost of the trip? $10 for adults, $5 for children. The Big South Fork Scenic Railway is a not just a relaxing trip through the mountains, but also a history lesson in the struggles of a proud mountain people. you can experience it too, all on just a tankful of gas.

To get to the Big South Fork Scenic Railway, take 1-75 north to the exit 141, that's Huntsville/Oneida to Highway 63 west to route 27, then to 92 west and follow the signs. It's about two hours away.

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