The Illinois Central Railroad operated in the United States heartland for almost 150 years, from 1851 to 1999. Nicknamed the Main Line of Mid-America, ICRR managed approximately 600 miles of track throughout the commonwealth of Kentucky, stretching from the Mississippi River to the central part of the state.
As preparations were made for Lake Barkley’s impoundment in 1966, ICRR moved 17 miles of mainline track to higher ground between Grand Rivers and Princeton. This included the curvy, picturesque stretch of rail that traced the bend in the Cumberland River between Eddyville and Kuttawa. The railroad was also relocated atop Barkley Dam, and ICRR removed its antiquated drawbridge at Eureka. The new line opened on Oct. 25, 1965, and soon after the original track was pulled up and the Eddyville and Kuttawa train depots were demolished. Fifty-six years later, much of the original ICRR route is still visible in the form of elevated ground and breaker walls along the waterfront.