Blackford lies on KY 143, across the Tradewater River from Crittenden
County and 13 1/2 miles wsw of Dixon. It was first called Blacksford
for a river crossing on the farm owned by Rich Black. In 1887
a station on the just-completed Ohio Valley (later Illinois Central
Gulf) Railroad was established here as Blackford, as the post
office opened on August 29, 1887, with James M. Clement, postmaster.
Source: Robert M. Rennick in Kentucky Place Names
copyright 1984 University Press of Kentucky
Heart Beat Bridge, Blackford, Kentucky
by Ron Stubblefield
The Tradewater River railroad bridge at Blackford was a vital
link for the Ohio Valley Railroad that ran from Henderson,
to Princeton, Kentucky. The bridge was the heartbeat of the
small community of Blackford, Kentucky. The first bridge to
be constructed was a Draw Bridge. It was shortly after 1886
when the Draw Bridge was constructed. At that time the Tradewater
River was also a vital river route for small steam-boats traveling
from the Ohio River at Sturgis, Kentucky up the Tradewater
to what is call T's Landing. At T's Landing which is few miles
above the railroad bridge.
T's Landing was a frontier trading post for local residents and native people
who still lived in that area in the late 1880's. These folks were the main stay
of the trading business on the Tradewater River. In turn it was their life line
to the products moving down the Ohio River to the mouth of the Tradewater River.
The area around T's Landing is now called Enon. All that remains are a few scattered
new homes and the Enon Baptist Church. The hand cut stone piers of the original
draw bridge are still in place underneath the newly renovated railroad bridge,
now a walking trail and a single lane bridge for automobiles.
In 1892 the “Ohio Valley Railroad” sold the railroad line to “Chesapeake
Ohio Southwestern”. In the same year it again was sold to the “Illinois
In 1914 a new 528 ft. long bridge was build by the Illinois Central Railroad
with help from the U.S. Government that included a pedestrian walk bridge. The
Illinois Central Railroad design was an upgrade in structure. The IC wanted to
run larger and heavier classes of locomotives to pull coal trains from Union
and Webster counties to the Illinois Central Kentucky division's main line at
Princeton, KY. This main line ran from Paducah to Louisville, Kentucky. Today
this main lines is operated by the (PAL) Paducah and Louisville Railroad.
The residents of Blackford in Webster County and the people of Crittenden County
just on the west side of the river always wanted a bridge to carry wagons, and
buggies across the Tradewater River. Many of the people on the Crittenden County
side carried on their business in Blackford because it was much closer that Marion.
Blackford was only a little over a mile from the excellent road of Hwy. 60 in
Crittenden County which leads to Marion, Kentucky. Getting to Marion required
the people of Blackford to travel 20 miles out of their way, which could take
as many as three days.
The railroad bridge across the Tradewater marked the rise and fall of the community
of Blackford, Kentucky. During it's hey day there were six doctors, livery stable,
two blacksmiths, five hotels, drugstore, dry goods store, five grocery stores,
hardware store, courthouse, millenary shop, flour mill, theater, four churches,
and one of the strongest banks in the state. This town's heartbeat was truly
the Tradewater River railroad bridge. As the railroad business declined in small
towns so did the business in the town of Blackford.
Today the rails have been removed from Henderson to Fredonia, Kentucky. The rails
from Sturgis, through Marion to Fredonia were remove in 1999. From Fredonia to
Princeton the track is owned by the Fredonia Valley Rock Quarry. Special limestone
rock is hauled twice daily to Princeton for shipments all over the world. The
rock quarry runs it's own locomotive a U23B painted in CSX blue and gray colors
with no markings.
Through the efforts of Mr. Brent Witherspoon and the support of many people a
new walking and one lane automobile bridge is in place. It was built using the
pier structures of the 1886 Ohio Valley Railroad bridge and the concrete piers
and trestle timbers of the 1914 Illinois Central Railroad Bridge. From the way
I read The Blackford Bridge Project's website, Mr. Witherspoon has received many
awards for his hard work but, none more satisfying than the new walking and automobile
bridge being built in honor of the Veterans of the United States of America.
The new Veterans Memorial Bridge and new blacktop right away (bridge approach)
was named in honor of the Korean War POW / MIA PFC Thomas R. Robertson. PFC Robertson
was from Blackford, Kentucky. For complete details see the website listed below.
Credits: T's Landing and Fredonia Quarry information from local history. Blackford
Bridge Project information at www.blackfordky.com.
Historic Tradewater Bridge,
The Tradewater River railroad bridge
at Blackford was a vital link for the Ohio Valley Railroad
that ran from Henderson, to Princeton, Kentucky.