Bullitt County History

The Railroad Reaches Shepherdsville

The following article, printed in The Louisville Daily Courier on Tuesday, 9 Oct 1855, describes the first train excursion from Louisville to Shepherdsville as the tracks were completed to that point.

Nashville Railroad - Opening to Salt River

Gradually, but still rapidly enough to assure the public of the certain completion of the enterprise, does the Nashville Railroad progress. Yesterday it was completed to Shepherdsville, the county seat of Bullitt, eighteen miles distant from Louisville. To that point an excursion train was run, carrying the city authorities, members of the press, some of the railroad officers, and a number of citizens. We left the depot grounds at 10 o'clock, and were soon reminded of the vast change in the season since the first excursion was had upon the road a few weeks since. There we enjoyed the balm and warmth of a summer evening sun - now the cold, raw temperature of a cloudy autumnal morning. Then the green corn and green leaves rustled refreshingly - now all is bare and sombre, frost bitten. But it did not require long to course over the intervening miles. The track was unusually smooth, the grades light, the curves almost nothing, and the locomotive (Hart county,) swift and strong. We found the country chiefly forest, with here and there a clearing, a corn patch, and a primitive log-house. The swamps are dense, dark, and almost impenetrable. Some twelve miles out, and we approached the first range of Salt River Knobs, these protuberances upon the wooded plain, like warts or moles on the human surface.

We were forty minutes running the eighteen miles to Shepherdsville, landing not exactly in the town, but in a grove of black jacks, with persimmon trees, covered with their fine fruit, scattered promiscuously about. Shepherdsville, from the rear, does not present the most fascinating appearance; yet we find it wearing its briskest, busiest air. It was the first day of the Circuit Court, and Judge Bullock was a passanger on the train, accompanied by Col. Thomas W. Riley, Capt. Rousseau, and other legal gentlemen. The streets were crowded with people, and the taverns, of which there were four or five, appeared to be busy in dealing out the liquids. By-the-way, chancing to walk down street toward the court house, with a friend, (the member elect to the legislature,) one of the Salt River boys approached him, and suggested that the price of drinks had been doubled on the Louisville fellows, but that the Bullitt sovereigns could still get them at the old standard price of five cents. Inhospitable and ungenerous and unchristian landlords of Shepherdsville, why this imposition upon confiding strangers?

The inhabitants of the town had intended, so one of them informed us, giving the excursionists a dinner, but the butcher of the county could not get a bull beef in time. Court was engaged during our stay in trying a case of hog-stealing, in which Mr. E. S. Craig appeared for the Commonwealth, and Messrs. Phil. Lee, B. Hardin Helm and Chas. G. Wintersmith, for the defence. After reconnoitering the town, examining Salt River, looking in vain for those defeated politicians, who were presumed to wanter up and down its banks, and for those "roarers," who in early times gave such a reputation to the stream, we turned back. We did not, however, resume our journey until a very fine collation had been served up by Col. Wm. Riddle, consisting of everything that is edible or imbibable. Col. Riddle, who is the efficient Vice President of the Nashville road, got up the excursion of yesterday, and to him the participants are in chief indebted for their enjoyment.

So much for the excursion. Now for something concerning the road. We found it built in the most substantial manner and progressing as rapidly as the weather will allow. Salt River is already reached, and the erection of the bridge across that stream will be immediately commenced. It will take only three weeks to complete this structure, as the timbers are all in readiness, each marked for its place, the bolts and irons prepared, and nothing necessary but their being placed together.

Having crossed Salt river, the work of laying the track will be resumed. The graduation is nearly complete to New Haven. When that point is reached, and the road will be open for business there early in the spring, our city will immediately begin to feel the beneficial effects of this enterprise. New Haven is in a fine agricultural region, and the depot to which the products of all that country is wagoned for transportation on the turnpike. The freight business cannot help being remunerative. The carriage of passengers will also be a considerable item. The point is on the Bardstown and Nashville turnpike, forty-seven miles from this city, and will save fifty-four miles of stage traveling hence to Nashville. The railroad from Bowling Green to Nashville will be completed in less than twelve months, and then by cars and intervening stage coach, the time between the two termini of the Louisville and Nashville road will be made in twelve hours.

Our citizens who are so deeply interested in the construction of this great enterprise should feel encouraged. The day when all their hopes in connection with its successful operation, is not far distant. Then for a further leap onward in the track of destiny for Louisville.

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The Bullitt County History Museum, a service of the Bullitt County Genealogical Society, is located in the county courthouse at 300 South Buckman Street (Highway 61) in Shepherdsville, Kentucky. The museum, along with its research room, is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Saturday appointments are available by calling 502-921-0161 during our regular weekday hours. Admission is free. The museum, as part of the Bullitt County Genealogical Society, is a 501(c)3 tax exempt organization and is classified as a 509(a)2 public charity. Contributions and bequests are deductible under section 2055, 2106, or 2522 of the Internal Revenue Code. Page last modified: 12 Jan 2024 . Page URL: bullittcountyhistory.org/bchistory/rrarticle.html