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“Not to be missed- amazing scenery and history”

Big South Fork Scenic Railway
Ranked #1 of 5 things to do in Stearns
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Owner description: 2/13/2017 Note! Big South Fork Scenic Railway is under new ownership and management. Brand new website will be posted 2/20/2017 with complete 2017 schedule. We are not operating January, February and March. Excursions will resume April 1st. The K&T Special, our signature excursion, is a gorgeous three-hour scenic train ride from Stearns, Kentucky to the National Park Service's wonderfully restored Blue Heron Mining Community. In 2017 e'll also offer a variety of special event trains during the year, such as the Moon-shine Limited and South Fork Santa Express. This season we are spending nearly a million dollars on refurbishing cars and engines, and upgrades to the Depot and the railway. Stay tuned! -Diana Bybee and Sam Carpenter
Useful Information: Food available for purchase, Wheelchair access, Bathroom facilities
Cincinnati, OH
Level Contributor
57 reviews
18 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 43 helpful votes
“Not to be missed- amazing scenery and history”
Reviewed May 5, 2013

I've been on this train every year since 2009.....it continues to delight and amaze all my guests. A beautiful ride and a historic one....to realize that workers lived down at the Blue Heron Mine and you can visualize how they lived thru the numerous "ghost" buildings that dot the landscape.

If you have never been to this area of Kentucky (or this region), you are in for a treat. The trees are huge, creeks numerous, and rock formations rival those out west. You will get to see all this on your ride down to the mine and back. The ecosystem in this area is rare and thankfully is coming back since the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area was formed in the 1970's. Previously, most of this land was over-logged and over-mined.

Once the train arrives at the Blue Heron mine, you have plenty of time to view the "ghost" buildings and don't miss a walk over the trestle, which spans the Big South Fork of the Cumberland River. There are amazing views from there, regardless of season. There is a snack bar, restrooms and a gift shop.

If you visit in the summer, be prepared for larger crowds, especially on the weekends. Spring and fall are especially lovely times to go, but you may need reservations in the fall, when the leaf peepers are in abundance.

I highly recommend this trip for singles, couples, or families. You can just enjoy the train ride, or get as involved as you like in the history of mining and how the coal miners and their families lived. It was a tough life, and one that most of us can't even fathom, even just a few decades later.

Visited June 2012
3 Thank treewoman
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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146 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
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English first
1 review
“So beautiful and relaxing.”
Reviewed March 26, 2013 via mobile

This was a beautiful and relaxing ride. Five of us went and thoroughly enjoyed the great outdoor experience.

Thank TammyPhillips
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
68 reviews
26 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 34 helpful votes
“Beautiful Autumn Train Ride”
Reviewed October 29, 2012

I took the ride in October as the leaves were changing and it was beautiful. The route was decorated for Halloween, as well. There are cars that are open and ones that are enclosed. I chose to ride in the enclosed car, as it was chilly that day. The stop in Blue Heron was very interesting and educational about life there during that period. There are exhibits to stop in that give a narration of a particular aspect of life there and a related display. Good attraction for all ages.

Visited October 2012
Thank river280
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
2 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“Huge disappointment”
Reviewed October 21, 2012

We took the train ride in October during leaves changing. I was hoping for some scenic views, but you are basically riding through the woods with limited sight. We were amused that they stopped close to the depot and directed our attention to this large industrial building where they were restoring a steam engine. That's great but, it was just a ugly building. I guess I am spoiled a little as I am comparing to the Durango silverton and pikes peak trains.

Visited October 2012
2 Thank TennCajun
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kirksey, KY
Level Contributor
137 reviews
42 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 71 helpful votes
“Beautiful ride”
Reviewed October 6, 2012

We enjoyed our trip to Blue Heron on the train. The leaves were just beginning to change and it was a beautiful trip. The weather was perfect but I imagine it could be a bit hot or cold on the train if the weather wasn't cooperative. We enjoyed our stop at Blue Heron as well.

Visited October 2012
1 Thank West-Ky-Travelers
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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