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The Lexington/Ohio River Railroad

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Railroads were an important factor in the growth of Louisville in the 1800s. Railroad lines connected major cities and allowed for goods and people to be shipped quickly overland to and from the river port. These railroads would become of particular importance during the Civil War as transportation for troops and supplies. The largest of these railway connections would eventually be the Louisville & Nashville Railroad. However, there were several other railroads would be built before the L&N gained prominence.

In the 1830s, the first railroad line in the state of Kentucky was built with the Lexington and Ohio Railroad. The proposed line would connect Lexington in the central Bluegrass region of the state to the Ohio River via Louisville and would also run through the capital city of Frankfort. When completed it would connect three of the most important cities of the state together and ease goods from the river to the interior of Kentucky.

The railroad would ultimately not be completed. Following the economic crisis known as the Panic of 1837, construction ceased. In 1840 the Commonwealth of Kentucky took control of the railroad's assets to collect on its debt. The railroad lines were eventually bought by two other companies--the Louisville & Frankfort and the Lexington & Frankfort Railroads. These lines merged to create the Louisville, Cincinnati, and Lexington Railroad. Later this company would become part of the L&N Railroad, and part of the present company CSX, one of the largest railroad in the United States.



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