By Eugenia Jones
During the McCreary County Heritage Foundation’s (MCHF) May (5-10-21) meeting, Chairperson Ray Moncrief announced KY’s Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) approved additional slide work beyond an existing slide that is already being worked on through the Division of Abandoned Mine Land (AML.) The existing slide forced closure of the line past Barthell and has prevented the Big South Fork Scenic Railway from hauling passengers into the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area and historic Blue Heron Mining Camp. Work on the initial slide should be completed soon. Workers will then move beyond the slide to drive used scrap rail steel into the earth to stabilize the ground in areas “at risk” for slides.
In other business, Moncrief reported on a counteroffer made by the Foundation to Wasatch Railroad Contractors and John E. Rimmasch as part of their ongoing effort to reach agreement on payment of the approximately $730,000 judgment awarded to the Foundation from Wasatch/Rimmasch through court ordered arbitration. Wasatch/Rimmasch initially made an offer that was unacceptable to the Foundation. The final decision and award ordered through court ordered arbitration resolved a 2018 civil action complaint filed by MCHF against the railroad contractors. The complaint stemmed from a 2012 design/build contract entered into by MCHF and the Wyoming based railroad contractors for the restoration and completion of the K & T Railway No. 14 steam locomotive, built in 1944 and owned by MCHF in Stearns.
Additionally, members of the Foundation discussed the possibility of hosting a VIP train in July. For the event, invitations would be extended to state and local officials and leaders allowing them to see improvements made to the Big South Fork Scenic Railway and excursion train. The Foundation has been the recipient of numerous state and federal grants that have helped finance numerous repairs and upgrades to the local tourist attraction.
The McCreary County Heritage Foundation meets monthly on the second Monday at 5:30 at the OVC Conference Room in Stearns.