By Whitney Hale
In celebration of the University of Kentucky's upcoming sesquicentennial in 2015, the 56th of 150 weekly installments remembers the dedication of a campus memorial to railroad development.
As part of the Silver Jubilee celebration of the College of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering (now part of UK College of Engineering) a monument to American railroad development was dedicated 10 a.m. May 30, 1916. The monument consisted of a restoration of a portion of the original track of the Lexington and Ohio Railroad, the first railroad built west of the Allegheny Mountains. About 25 feet of the original track was to be set on a concrete base on the campus of the university, in front of Mechanical Hall (razed in 1964 to make room for the F. Paul Anderson Tower).
A bronze tablet was to be set at the base of the monument, containing the following inscription: "This restoration of a portion of the original track of the Lexington and Ohio (now Louisville and Nashville) Railroad laid at Lexington in 1831, is dedicated to those men of forethought and courage who were pioneers in railroad development in America."
The dedication was presided over by Dean F. Paul Anderson. The program included three speeches: The Development of Railroads and the Locomotive by D.F. Crawford; The Railroad Builder by Major James Poyntz Nelson; and the dedication speech by Judge Samuel M. Wilson. A history of the First Railroad of the West, by Maude W. Lafferty, was printed in pamphlet form and distributed as a souvenir at the event.
The Railroad Memorial can still be seen on campus today. It is located behind the Carol Martin Gatton Business and Economics Building and the plaque faces the Anderson Tower and the Engineering Quadrangle.
This story on UK's history is presented by UK Special Collections. Special Collections is home to UK Libraries' collection of rare books, Kentuckian, the Archives, the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, the King Library Press and the Wendell H. Ford Public Policy Research Center. The mission of Special Collections is to locate and preserve materials documenting the social, cultural, economic and political history of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.