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Natural Bridge Tunnel

Natural Bridge Tunnel (Kentucky Union Railway)

The Natural Bridge Tunnel is an abandoned tunnel along the Kentucky Union Railway at Natural Bridge State Resort Park in Kentucky. It was in use from 1890 to 1942.

After the Kentucky Union Railway (KU) was completed between the Elizabethtown, Lexington & Big Sandy Railroad, and Clay City in 1885. The building of the line toward Jackson in 1890 included the boring of a tunnel near Natural Bridge. 2

In 1891, the KU went into receivership. 1, 2, 3.1 It was sold for $1 million at a public auction and was reorganized as the Lexington & Eastern Railway (L&E) on October 16, 1894, 2 which was acquired by the Louisville & Nashville Railroad (L&N) in 1910. 1

The L&N saw the KU’s alignment between Winchester and Maloney as a determinant to hauling coal because of its numerous steep grades and tunnels, and in 1916 the L&N constructed a new alignment was constructed from Winchester and Irvine. 2 Traffic along the KU between Winchester and Maloney declined substantially, and in 1942, a 46.6-mile section of the KU from North Winchester and Fincastle, including the Natural Bridge Tunnel, was abandoned. Another six miles between Fincastle and Maloney was dismantled in 1947.


  • State: Kentucky
  • Route: Louisville & Nashville Railroad
  • Type: Tunnel
  • Status: Abandoned / Closed
  • Spans:


  1. Klein, Maury. “Gotterdammerung: The Close of an Era, 1902-1921.” History of the Louisville & Nashville Railroad. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2003. 401-04. Print.
  2. Sulzer, Elmer G. “The Late and Early.” Ghost Railroads of Kentucky. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1998. 13-26. Print.
  3. Ambrose, William M. Kentucky Union Railway. Lexington: Limestone Press, 2007. Print.
    1. “Introduction.” 1-4.
    2. “Kentucky Union Railway.” 5-.

2 thoughts on “Natural Bridge Tunnel”

  1. Just saw the tunnel yesterday and it’s very neat! Can you us settle an argument? We were at the entrance off the park road going towards the Skylift and looking through it, we believe it goes to the pool area at Natural Bridge. Another member of our party is convinced the tunnel goes to the Skylift. We’re not walking through cuz the ceiling is collapsing, but do you know who is right?

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