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The Benham Rail Trail—also known as the Benham Walking Trail and Coal Miners Walking Trail—runs east to west across the small town of Benham on a former railroad corridor. The line, which was abandoned by CSX in 1996, was built in 1911 to serve the then flourishing coal mining industry in Benham, Cumberland and Lynch.
Benham and Lynch were both company towns developed by the International Harvester Company and U.S. Coal and Coke Company (a subsidiary of U.S. Steel), respectively, to serve the thousands of workers in what was then the largest coal camp in the world. Many of the original company houses, stores and other facilities are still standing, including the impressive Coal Miners Memorial Theater from 1923.
The Benham Rail Trail runs on a crushed stone surface near many reminders of the area’s extensive industrial history, including the Kentucky Coal Mining Museum and Coal Miners Memorial Park. The latter features a statue and memorial wall honoring coal miners, as well as a red CSX caboose painted in Louisville and Nashville Railroad (CSX’s predecessor in the region) titles.
Eventually, the Benham Rail Trail will be extended on the abandoned rail bed west to the older city of Cumberland and east to Lynch. In addition to providing a crucial off-road link between the three communities, the trail will also establish a direct connection between the Kentucky Coal Mining Museum in Benham and Portal 31, the underground coal mine tour operated by the museum in Lynch.
Benham is centered on State Route 160 in Kentucky’s Appalachia region. Parking is available at a couple of locations along Main Street, Depot Avenue and Kentucky Avenue.
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