Place

Mammoth Cave Historic Train

two train engines, one painted red and one painted black
Two steam engines that tell a story of life in Kentucky over 100 years ago.

NPS Photo / Deb Spillman

Quick Facts

Information Kiosk/Bulletin Board

"Hercules" and Coach #2

 

The Mammoth Cave Railroad played an important role in bringing more tourism to Mammoth Cave during it’s early development and it improved transportation for the local populace. It also served residents as an avenue of trade to ship farm products to the town of Glasgow Junction and bring back supplies from the merchants in town. The tiny 9-mile track from Glasgow Junction (Park City) to Mammoth Cave operated for 45 years. 

Between the ending of the Civil War and 1880 there were about 40,000 to 50,000 passengers annually on the L&N Railroad that stopped off at Glasgow Junction and then boarded a stagecoach to Mammoth Cave. In 1874 Colonel Larkin J. Procter, who was the owner of the stagecoach line, chartered the Mammoth Cave Railroad with his brother George and other investors and leased the railroad rights to Mammoth Cave from the L&N Railroad. 

The new railroad acquired four used steam engine locomotives. They were Baldwin “dummy” steam engines formally used on the street railways in Memphis and Nashville, Tennessee. The reason the small steam Baldwin locomotive was called “dummy” was because it was boxed up to look like a passenger streetcar. They also acquired two wooden passenger coaches and two wooden combination coaches and baggage cars.   

The actual work on the railroad did not begin until 1880, and was officially opened for business on November 8th of 1886. The first passenger, W.F. Richardson, paid $3.00 for ticket #1350 as was recorded in the Mammoth Cave Hotel Register on November 8, 1886. The Mammoth Cave Railroad would make several stops at places such as Diamond Caverns, Chaumont Post Office, Proctor’s Hotel and Sloan’s Crossing during its short 8.7-mile trip from Glasgow Junction (Park City) to the Mammoth Cave. 

The Mammoth Cave Railroad was a short rail line with a small train. This “dummy” type locomotive and its accompanying combine coach were among the last of their kind used in the United States. The final run of the Mammoth Cave Railroad occurred in 1931. The original Locomotive “Hercules” #3 was unable to make the last run, so Locomotive #4 was renamed “Hercules” to keep with tradition.  

Today, visitors can still travel by foot or bicycle on the rail path as the abandoned line was converted to the Mammoth Cave Bike and Hike Trail in 2004.   

Mammoth Cave National Park

Last updated: December 18, 2020