The Gregarious Railfan
The Rat Hole
Norfolk Southern's historic route from Cincinnati OH to Chattanooga TN
GPS:  Cincinnati's Gest Yard: N 39.1101, W 84.5411  (Northern terminus)
Chattanooga's Debutts Yard: N 35.05779, W 85.27002  (Southern terminus)
Stearns, KY N 36.69890, W 84.47612  Big Fork Scenic Railway

Scanner:  NS  160.950 [56] road; maybe more;  BFSR  160.800 [46]

Railroad:  Norfolk Central Division, CNO&TP Sub (aka CNOT Sub)      
North of Danville it is the First District CNO&TP.
From Danville south to Oakdale, TN it is the Second District CNO&TP. (technically this district is the 'Rat Hole'
where all the tunnels were, but the entire rout carries the nickname)
The Third District is from Oakdale to Chattanooga.

Railfan Access:   Access in lots of towns along Route US-27. But some spots are not conducive to railfanning.

    Cincinnati Union Terminal   
    Danville, KY  (dividing line for districts 1 & 2)  The Danville Station on Main Street looks inviting but is
    posted "no trespassing"
    Somerset, KY
    Burnside, KY    
    Whitley City, KY   
    Stearns KY (see note below)  many other Kentucky towns along US-27 have limited parking or views
    From Cumberland Falls south to the Tennessee border, the CNO&TP is never more than a mile or so away
    from US-27
    Oneida, TN along Depot St and US-27  
    Oakdale,TN  (dividing line for Districts 2 & 3)
    Chattanooga, TN
    Quite frankly, the best way to fan the line is to go out and explore it. Some of the locations you just need
    to go WAY out of your way to get to, but with the high volume it is usually worth the trip.
Sterns KY is featured in TRAINS Hot Spots September 2017 and has level ground and good views.  map  
There is a depot there serving the Big South Fork Scenic Railway.

Description: The ‘Rat Hole’ is the nickname for Norfolk Southern’s busy main line through Kentucky which once had
many tunnels, most of which have been daylighted, or bypassed in the first six decades of the 20th century, with wide
cuts to accommodate heavy, double stack intermodal traffic. The nickname once aptly characterized the middle section
of the CNO&TP, where 27 tunnels helped the line traverse 160 miles of rugged mountain country between Wilmore,
Ky., and Emory Gap, Tenn.

TRAINS Magazine had a feature article December 2013:  "Rat Hole Revisited"  Probably the most complete story of
the history of 'daylighting ' the "Rat Hole"   
Maps   Clik on Thumbnails to enlarge
Note: The reason this page is a description and not a Mini Guide is that as stated below,
many places are not conducive to real railfanning. This is Appalachia, many times even in
the larger towns there is no parking, no amenities, and lots of no trespassing signs. A hard
core foamer or rail photographer will probably enjoy it for there are still plenty of trains and
beautiful scenery, but...
Denver Todd is The Gregarious Railfan
Todd Sestero publishes the RAILFAN GUIDES of the U.S.   
Disclaimer: I have not been to this location. Info is from Todd Sestero, TRAINS Magazine and the internet.  I would
welcome pictures, additions, or corrections to this page. Pictures and new info will be credited on the page. e-mail me
Map 1
Map 3
Map 2
Map 4
Note: Some of the locations on these maps are cities and towns which can be found on roadmaps,
and some of the locations are railroad timetable places which will not be found on roadmaps.
These excellent Maps are
courtesy of Todd Sestero
“There are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread.”
- Mahatma Gandhi
Pictures   Google images, <clik on images to enlarge>

    Sterns Depot