Department of Tourism
The Trains Are Coming to Estill County
IRVINE, Ky. – As Estill County prepares to celebrate its bicentennial, brightly painted statues of railroad locomotives are cropping up around the eastern Kentucky communities of Irvine and Ravenna, which are about 20 minutes east of Richmond on KY 52.
Organizers of the public art project “LocoMagic” are seeking sponsors for a total of 50 miniature locomotives, which are made of durable polyresin and measure about 3.5 feet tall, 3 feet long and 2 feet wide. The non-profit Estill Development Alliance, which is coordinating LocoMagic, hopes to boost residents’ pride in their community, stimulate tourism and raise funds for other civic improvement efforts.
Trains have been instrumental to Estill County’s development since the late 19th century, when the transportation of coal, timber and oil from resource-rich eastern Kentucky began in earnest and transformed the county into a railroad hub.
“EDA chose a public art project because of the success of the hand statues in Berea, the fish in Somerset and the horses in Lexington and Louisville,” said John Spurlock, an EDA official. “We hope that folks will be proud of our statues and make the bicentennial celebration the biggest party in the history of Estill County.”
So far, EDA has obtained sponsors for about 15 of the whimsical steam engines, Spurlock said. Among the initial sponsors are banks, law firms and other local businesses. Organizers hope to recruit 50 sponsors, each of whom will put up $900 for the privilege of choosing a locomotive’s paint colors and design. Companies and organizations can display their logos on the engines.
Eventually, all the locomotives will be auctioned, but not before they’ve toured the state and been displayed at the Kentucky State Fair, Spurlock said.
All of the locomotives that have been painted so far will be on view during Estill County’s annual Mountain Mushroom Festival, to be held this year April 25-27. The main celebration of the Estill bicentennial will take place June 23-29, 2008. On June 28, the bicentennial festivities will include fireworks, a beauty pageant, food vendors, carnival games and a free performance by Goose Creek Symphony and other traditional musicians.
More information about LocoMagic and Estill County’s bicentennial can be obtained by visiting www.locomagic.net and www.estillcountyky.net. The EDA’s phone number is 606-723-2450.
The Kentucky Department of Tourism, an agency of the Kentucky Commerce Cabinet, exists to promote The Commonwealth as a travel destination, generate revenue and create jobs for Kentucky’s economy.