Rockport 2005.
View is looking downriver.
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Stationery by jrd with countless help from others.
Rockport Railroad Bridge

Green River at Rockport, Kentucky.

Rockport is an old "River Town" and somewhat of an old Railroad Town. Rockport is situated on the East side of the Green River near the 100 mile point, up from the Ohio River. On the downriver side of Rockport, a Highway Bridge spans the river where US Highway 62 crosses from East to West and going toward Central City and Paducah. Up River, an old Railroad Bridge spans the river. What was once, an Illinois Central Railroad, has since seen better times. Illinois Central Railroad, for many years, owned and operated the Railroad. Several years ago, the IC RR sold out to the Paducah and Louisville Railroad. Where once, trains of all types traveled on this railroad, and moved about any stock imaginable, including the mail, now an occasional "Coal Train" will pass. There were several trains that ran on a daily schedule. The mail was even delivered and sent by these daily trains.

For a bridge to be constructed in the early twentieth Century, it would have seen some good times and some bad times. This is a short story on one of the bad times. Hope to have a few more, if anyone is interested.

If you looked closely at the top portion of this stat, you should notice a "Comedy Train" that crosses the bridges in the background portion of this stat. This tale is about such a train, only it was not a comedy train.  It was a full fledged work train. The "Comedy Train" is the only graphics that I had to represent an old train.

Note that the main picture shows a bridge span between two piers, with an open section on the left side of the "Middle Pier". This bridge would not be worth much if a train was attempting to cross the river. What is not shown is another section of the bridge that "Raises Up" when a barge or large boat is moving under the bridge. If a train needs to cross, this bridge section is lowered onto the middle pier, and locked. Then a train can safely cross. When the "Bridge Section" is up, as in the picture, safe guards are used which includes warning lights and alarms and even a "De-rail" section that can be positioned to cause the train to be forced off the tracks. A train de-rail is better than going into the river.

If it can happen, it will happen. Many years ago, in probably the early thirties, the Green River was above "Normal Pool" and the Bridge was raised to allow river traffic to flow. With the bridge up, a train approached the bridge and the warning systems much have failed. Somewhat like the "Comedy Train" in the top part of this stat, the approaching train consisted of a steam engine, a coal tender and a caboose. The train crew did not know that the bridge was "Up" and they never knew the impeding danger. The three man "Crew" consisted of an engineer, a fireman and a conductor. I am sure that at a certain point in time some of the crew saw the "Raised Bridge" and made some attempt to stop. To late though, and the train and crew fell into the river. To my knowledge, the train crew escaped and survived to tell the tale. The train was not so lucky, as it was never seen again. This tale was told to me by parents, other kin, and friends. I am sure that one reason for telling of the story was to stress just how deep the river is at this point. To be able to swallow a complete train, never to be seen again, would have to be some deep river.

Some twenty or so years after the event, I have, along with many other young boys, tried to dive down to locate this train. All of the dives that I have been associated with ended up convincing me that the river, at this point, is a very deep river. Older men have told me that they also tried to find the train. Some said that they thought that they could spot the train when they were standing on the bridge, if the river was clear and at "Summer Pool".

So much for the "Little Train" that was lost forever in the deep old Green River. Please take this story for what it is worth and the story plus $1.79 will get you a cup of coffee in some places. What I have written is what I remember being told and at my age, the old "Memory System" is nothing to brag about. Please feel free to correct me if I strayed to far from the truth or if you don't remember the tale as presented.

I have some other remembrances of other events and happenings in and around the old river and the Railroad Bridge. I may attempt to get out a few similar type stats in the next few months. Heck, I have many happy remembrances of the old river. Guess that I could go on for several tales. Don't want to be a bore though, and will try to contain myself. Please feel free to let me know if you do not want to receive this type mail.

Thanks for looking and for reading. I do appreciate your giving of your time. Feel free to respond in any form or matter of your choosing.

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Stationery by jrd

Photo by jrd.

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j. r. durham

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