All Aboard! Kentucky Brownfield Redevelopment Project Moving Full-Steam Ahead

A one-of-a-kind revitalization project in Estill County that is expected to create a unique tourist attraction and an influx of visitors is now underway. In May, the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet’s (EEC) Brownfield Redevelopment Program provided $120,000 to the Kentucky Steam Heritage Corporation (KSHC) to help begin construction of an outdoor amphitheater and concert venue, the first phase of the multi-year Kentucky Rail Heritage Center project.

The Cleaner Commonwealth Fund loan will support the managed reuse of the former working rail yard, and will be used to remove and/or cap contaminated soils and assess indoor air quality. When completed, EEC’s program will forgive $20,000 of the $120,000 loan. The remainder, financed over a 15-year period, qualifies for 0 percent interest.

The Eastern Kentucky attraction will eventually include a working rail museum, a vocational/technical shop for local students learn about the railroad, a full-service restaurant and possible micro-brewery, the outdoor amphitheater, and rides on a refurbished steam locomotive, one of the largest, most powerful in the nation. 

Residual contamination qualified the former working rail yard for brownfield designation and program eligibility.  The Cleaner Commonwealth Fund, administered through the Kentucky Brownfield Program, provides financial assistance for projects that clean up brownfield sites, including old factories, former gas stations and other properties that are abandoned or underutilized due to environmental contamination. It is a grant-and-loan fund established with an $850,000 EPA Brownfield Revolving Loan Fund grant in 2012.

If you are interested in brownfield revitalization and brownfield grants, visit or email

WEKU radio recently spoke with Kentucky Steam Heritage President Chris Campbell about the project Visit the non-profit’s website at