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Williams Creek Tunnel

Williams Creek Tunnel

The Williams Creek Tunnel is located on the former Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad Lexington Subdivision (C&O) in Carter County, Kentucky.

The Williams Creek Tunnel was completed in 1881 by the Newport News & Mississippi Valley Railroad (NN&MV), a railroad that operated in conjunction with the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad (C&O), both owned by Collis P. Huntington. 2 It was one of several on the Ashland to Lexington segment, a distance of 109 miles.

The NN&MV was folded into the C&O in 1892, later becoming known as the Lexington Subdivision. 1 3

The C&O had previously operated through freight trains between Ashland and Louisville via trackage rights over the L&N between Lexington and Louisville. Between 1981 and 1985, the C&O operated trains 391 and 392 between Russell Yard near Ashland and Patio Yard at Winchester but did not continue west to Lexington and Louisville on the L&N.

In 1982, the Chessie (C&O’s successor) notified the Interstate Commerce Commission that it intended to seek to abandon its line between Winchester and Rush within three years. About four cars per mile per year originated on the line, far below the 50 to 100 cars per mile per year that was needed to be profitable. The company filed preliminary paperwork to abandon those 93 miles on September 11, 1984, and most of the Lexington Subdivision, including the Williams Creek Tunnel, was abandoned in June 1985.

Williams Creek Tunnel


  • State: Kentucky
  • Route: Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad
  • Type: Tunnel
  • Status: Abandoned / Closed
  • Spans:


  1. Lexington Transcript. 19 Dec. 1882: 1.
  2. “Lexington & Big Sandy Railroad.” Lexington History Museum, article.
  3. Lexington Herald-Leader. 20 Feb. 1966.
  4. “Eastern Kentucky officials may fight Chessie’s move to close track.” Courier-Journal [Louisville]. 12 Sept. 1984: B1. Print.

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