Crittenden and Caldwell Counties
The line from Blackford to Princeton was probably built in 1886-1887 by the Ohio Valley RR, though it appears that during or shortly after construction the Illinois Central RR assumed ownership of the line. It remained in the ICRR family until the 1980s when the ICRR abandoned and sold much of its Kentucky trackage. Tradewater Railway operated the line for a time and at its abandonment in 1996, Western Kentucky Rail Lines was operating the line.
In 1998 the section from Fredonia to Princeton was reactivated as the Fredonia Valley Railway to serve a quarry just south of Fredonia. In 2001 a short segment of track was re-abandoned between Fredonia and the quarry. The line between the quarry and Princeton remains active, though it is unclear how often the line sees use or if it may be abandoned in the future. Portions of this original rail line south of Princeton were abandoned recently and there may be some potential for connection or extension through the future abandonment of the Fredonia Valley Railway or through a rail with trail initiative.
In Blackford there is a community effort to save and restore the steel railroad bridge over the Tradewater River for pedestrian and bicycle use. This project is currently in the planning and fundraising stage, and construction is expected to begin in 2003. The line south of the Tradewater River passes through a quail hunting preserve. In this area and south from here the right of way is clear and graveled -- it appears to be used informally by pedestrians and off-road vehicles.
Between Marion and Fredonia a trail has been proposed. The line is mostly clear in this section, much of it is grassy and many parts are tree-lined. Railroad crossing signs and signals remain at two crossings in Marion. In Fredonia a small section of the rail line has been included in a community walking path. The rest of the path is routed on sidewalks. At the trail head by the abandoned right of way is a small parking area, signs, and a bench. This line provides access to the residential neighborhoods and commercial areas of small communities, and a park and athletic field in Marion.