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» RAILforum » Passenger Trains » Amtrak » Travel to Kentucky, sort of

   
Author Topic: Travel to Kentucky, sort of
sojourner
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MGT, I have limited experience of Kentucky but wanted to recommend Cincinnati Ohio as a pretty nice city to visit--and you can walk across the Ohio on the pedestrian bridge or, if you are braver, the Roebling Bridge (which resembles his other work, the Brooklyn Bridge, only smaller) and then you will be in Kentucky. Among other things, Cincinnati also has a lovely and preserved train station with a good history museum that includes a little train running around it. It has a fine art museum up on a hill, with a nice neighborhood around it, and you can actually walk downtown from there over all kinds of weird overpasses over highways and you wind up near the old Proctor & Gamble buildings, which are nice to see too. It has brewery tours. The German restaurants are disappointing (as frankly they have become in too many cities) but there is a Turkish restaurant downtown. And the best ice cream in the world. The National Underground RR museum was a bit of a disappointment but the Underground RR associations are also interesting here, Harriet Beecher Stowe lived here, and it is around here Eliza crossed the river to freedom in the famous ice floe scene (which might make you want to walk across the river even more). The only problem is the Cardinal arrives there in the middle of the night AND taxi service can be unreliable, but be sure to do it through your hotel/book in advance.

In Cincinnati you can rent a car and go into Kentucky. I was very UNimpressed with downtown Louisville, but there is a nicer Victorian residential neighborhood in the city, and of course Churchill Downs. And bourbon tours if that is your wont (I would watch the driving then, though!). Frankfort, KY, the tiny state capital, was a nice little town; I enjoyed visiting the capital and the restored street and whatnot, and in the cemetery overlooking the city was a nice view supposedly (but perhaps fraudulently) Daniel Boone's grave.

But if you are in the area, I would strongly recommend visiting Columbus Indiana. Not Ohio, Indiana. It it a small place with an incredible amount of modern architects represented. I'm not saying all their works are gorgeous, some are IMO hideous, and my favorite were the prison and the firehouses . . . but, it's all pretty amazing. Check it out. And you should visit Miller's house and garden--he is the man responsible for getting all the architecture there. I think Saarinen did the house; I forget. You can get a map of all the sites at the Visitor Center.

Posts: 2596 | From: upstate New York | Registered: Mar 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Gilbert B Norman
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Speaking of Cincinnati:

New York Times

Fair Use:
  • Before last month, I had been to Cincinnati only once or twice, but I could have sworn I had lived there. My freshman year roommate, Dargie, grew up there, and, I’m convinced, must have been sent from the tourism board of the future to indoctrinate me with the idea that Cincinnati is one of the greatest places on Earth. Her family even got involved, with shipments of the city’s famous Skyline Chili.

    What I’d failed to pick up from those gauzy recollections, though, was just how vibrant and inspiring of an arts scene I would find. Eight years ago, Dargie got married in the impressive Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Arts, or CAC, designed by Zaha Hadid. I had wandered through hall after hall of floor-to-ceiling pieces by Shepard Fairey, blowing open my impression of an artist I had only seen on Barack Obama campaign posters
    …
Sorry volks, but it looks like CUT "didn't make the cut".
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palmland
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GBN, as you know I’m a great fan of CUT. I suspect it was not included in the article since it is essentially a construction zone during the $200m renovation to be completed in November this year. They produce a monthly video update on the progress but here is one that recaps the 2017 work: CUT renovation
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Tootle
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I'd like to echo Sojourner's recommendation about visiting Colunbus, Indiana, and add that their architectural tour is well worth your time.

I disagree somewhat about downtown Louisville, but then again, I like bourbon. Also, the Louisville Slugger museum does a very nice job -- both a museum and (sort of) a factory tour. There are numerous distillery tours and tastings, most out in the countryside. The one downtown -- and I'm sorry that I don't remember its name -- is a bit cheesy but does give you an excellent understanding of both the distillery process and why this particular part of the country became Bourbon Central -- a good intro to other sites. If you can, have dinner at the Brown Hotel and I mean in the dining room proper, not the bar where they serve dinner to the tourists. Not cheap, but not over-priced for the value; good food, good service, and great ambience including lots of oil portraits of notable horseflesh, the other big Kentucky industry.

--------------------
Sue B

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palmland
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Since this is a railfan site, I think it is only fitting that a quick look at Louisville Union Station also be included. It’s now the city’s trainsit offices but you can still walk in and look at the wonderful lobby/waiting area. Too bad the train shed, and tracks, are long gone. But there is still a siding off to the side where the Kentucky Cardinal ended its journey from Indianapolis.

As a kid, one of the highlights of my annual trip to Tennessee was backing into Louisville on the Pan American. I was still short so it was hard to see over the Flagman as he whistled us back from the open door of the Nashville Pullman on the rear of the train.

Somehow I doubt if this is on Mr. Anderson’s list of proposed corridor cities and CSX would not be amused to have a passenger train on the ‘short line’ from Cincinnati.

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sojourner
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Of course there ought to be a train to Louisville. Lexington too!
Posts: 2596 | From: upstate New York | Registered: Mar 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
George Harris
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quote:
Originally posted by palmland:

Somehow I doubt if this is on Mr. Anderson’s list of proposed corridor cities and CSX would not be amused to have a passenger train on the ‘short line’ from Cincinnati.

The problem with this and many of the other formerly well traveled lines in the south is the averaage speed practical on the existing alignments. An outstanding example is the current Crescent route between Atlanta and Birmingham. Despite a 79 mph speed limit the current 4 hour schedule on the 165 mile line is about the best practical due to curves, and this is about as fast as ever. So far as I know, there is not one single mile in this distance that train speed can get up to 79. Note you can drive this distance in something like 2 1/2 hours. It is highly unlikely that there is much patronage between these points for that reason. Here are some others: The Tennessean, around 23 hours Washington DC to Memphis, of this 10 to 11 between Knoxville and Memphis. 860 miles if I remember end to end with 420 between Knoxville and Memphis. As portions of I-40 and I-81 began to get completed patronage went through the floor. No amount of improvement is speed limits or priority will make much difference in this end to end time unless accompanied with a near complete rebuilding of the alignnmnent.

By the way, the Cincinatti-Louisville L&N short line at 110 miles took 3 hours for the top trains to cover. That is slightly under 37 mph average. Louisville to Nashville and on to Birmingham was much better. Louisville - Nashville about 3h 45m for 186 miles and Nashville - Birmingham 4 hours for 200 miles. An increase from the L&N day 70 mph limit might do a little for you, but it would not do much, as there are no really long tangents due to the terrain.

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Gilbert B Norman
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Let's note that the railroads traversing the Southeast knew that the playing field wasn't level for them - and this is when "the competition" was US41.

As a result, Messrs. Harris, Palmland, and "checking in from topside" Haithcoat, all know that roads such as the L&N (and friends) "didn't go in big" for equipment renewals.

I think they knew that routes such as NY-Chattanooga just weren't strong enough and slower than than existing highways - never mind the Interstates - so they somehow sensed that passenger trains were going to become the losers they did.

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palmland
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George's comment prompted me to look at the timetable for the Southern between Cincinnati and Atlanta in the latter days of the Royal Palm, after extensive improvements to that line had been made. It shows an average speed of 39 mph. Google shows the average speed at 65. So, yes, it would be virtually impossible for rail to be competitive with auto because of the geography involved.

As to the equipment on the southern railroads, it was certainly not as luxurious as that on the western streamliners. Nevertheless, I'll take those old modernized heavyweight coaches on the Southern and L&N any day over AmFleet equipment. They weren't fancy but oh so comfortable.

And of course the Southern did support some nice newer equipment for their top tier trains. The L&N settled for some new sleepers and the equipment used on the Georgian and Humming Bird.

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Gilbert B Norman
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I think it should pointed that the SRY Royal Palm and the L&N Flamingo were not speed competitive even when the competition was US Hwy 25. The improvements made to the CNO&TP, aka "the Rat Hole" were done during the '60's. I don't think improving passenger train speed was "too much" on the minds at the SRY Executive Suite. As I recall, the Royal Palm did get new equipment assigned on a supply and demand basis. The Flamingo I doubt if it ever knew what a LW car was.
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palmland
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GBN, I rode the Royal Palm in the spring of 1965 from Cincinnati to Chattanooga. It carried LW cars in great condition including the diner and sleeper we were in. It was downgraded not long after that.
The Flamingo did carry a relatively new Pine series 6-6-4 sleeper, but other than that it was Old Reliable’s modernized cars - although I suspect at the end it may have had a LW coach or two after other trains had been downgraded.

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George Harris
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The Southern did not reduce the end to end time of the Royal Palm subsequent to the Rathole upgrades, although it certainly could have.
Posts: 2619 | From: Olive Branch MS | Registered: Nov 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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