Scenic Kentucky Railway Leads to Old Mining Camp

By Joseph S., Alexandria, Kentucky

Big South Fork Scenic RailwayA COAL MINE may not sound like it’s worth a side trip, but Kentucky’s Blue Heron Coal Mining Camp certainly is.

You can get there via the Big South Fork Scenic Railway, an open-air train based in the small town of Stearns. At its peak, the remote mine employed 300 men. Recordings in the “ghost structures” of the buildings describe the miners’ lives, and mannequins illustrate the cramped conditions.

Ironically, this harsh work environment was in the midst of stunning natural beauty. As we stood on a tram bridge, gazing at the dense forest and river below, we couldn’t imagine a more tranquil spot.

Stearns is in southern Kentucky, 132 miles south of Lexington on State Highway 92 and about 9 miles from the Tennessee state line. Blue Heron is 9 miles west of Stearns on State Highway 742 in the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area.

For information about Blue Heron, call 1-606-376-3787 or visit

To learn more about The Big South Fork Scenic Railway, call 1-800-462-5664 or log on to

Interested in camping nearby? Check out KOA campground locations in Kentucky.

This KOA Travel Information is sponsored by:
Reiman Publications