Blue Heron Coal Mining Camp in Kentucky: A Coal Mine Worth the Side Trip

A 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 miner's 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.

The Big South Fork Scenic Railway runs Wednesday through Sunday from May through September and more limited hours in April, October and November; fare is $15 for adults and $7.50 for children ages 3-12. To learn more, call 1-800-462-5664.

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1 Comment

  1. Could you give me directions to the Blue Heron Mining Camp which I could drive there myself instead of taking the train ride in Stearns? I appreciate your time. thanks have a great day.

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