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The story of the building of the Lexington Extension of the Louisville Southern Railroad is more than the story of building 25 miles of track to connect Lawrenceburg and Lexington. It is the story of the nation's first modern big business, railroads, and the competition to reach the rich eastern coalfields of Kentucky, of deals and money to be made. It reached far beyond Kentucky and Bennett H. Young to the financial empire of John Jacob Astor. The nominated segment of the Lexington Extension has statewide significance and is eligible under Criterion A under the context of railroads in Kentucky and under Criterion B for its association with Bennett Henderson Young.
The Lexington Extension
Well before the line connecting Louisville and Harrodsburg was complete, agents of the Louisville Southern began soliciting support for the Lexington Extension, which would connect Lawrenceburg to Lexington via Versailles. This line would, in conjunction with the track from Louisville already completed, offer direct competition to the Louisville & Nashville Railroad's Louisville-Lexington line. A referendum on the $ 100,000 bond issue held in Lexington on May 29,1888 was accompanied by accusations of vote buying on both sides. The Lexington Transcript seems to have been particularly outspoken. An editorial urged people to vote no on the bond issue because the contractors, Mason and Ford of Frankfort, were the lessees of the State prison and were building the Midway- Georgetown branch of the Louisville Southern with convict labor, and thereby denying jobs to local workers. The following day the Transcript reported that the Louisville Southern had paid $ 10 a vote and had offered one voter "a position on the railroad" and another voter $55. In spite of these accusations the referendum passed, although the issue was far from settled in the minds of some. In spite of the difficulties, which some laid at the door of the L&N, the building of the Lexington Extension went for- ward.17
August 4th, 2020
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