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April 2, 2002, VMV Enterprises ceased operation of the Paducah Shops and filed for bankruptcy.  In June, the bankruptcy court approved the purchase of VMV by the National Railway Equipment Co. of Dixmoor, IL for $4.95 million. National received $6.86 million in Kentucky state tax incentives and a $1.5 million low-interest loan from the Tennessee Valley Authority. This prevented the assets from being sold at auction and the Shops permanently closed. The VMV name is being retained.


On Monday, June 30, 2002, VMV reopened with 17 employees with a target of 100 to 261 employees within a year, depending on workload. National has five other plants in North America.

Paducah Railroad Timeline 1852 — 2003

Jan. 1852

New Orleans & Ohio RR chartered to bring rail service to Paducah.

July 4, 1854

Lloyd Tilghman, USMA graduate hired to build NO & O. First seven miles completed from Paducah to Florence Station.

Sept. 1857

Elizabethtown & Paducah RR reaches Paducah.


Chesapeake, Ohio, & Southwestern RR shops constructed in Paducah, from Court St. (Kentucky Ave.) south along tracks. Employee hospital built between Broad and Jefferson at 15th St.


Paducah, Tennessee, & Alabama RR completed to Paducah from Hazel, Kentucky.


Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis RR takes over operation of PT & A.


Illinois Central takes over all Collis P. Huntington properties east of Mississippi River including CO & SW RR.


“Mud Line” constructed due west from Paducah to East Cairo (Wickliffe)


Chicago, Burlington, & Quincy RR (“Q”) reaches Metropolis from north.

Dec. 1917

Paducah & Illinois RR, jointly owned by CB & Q and NC & St L, completed from Metropolis to Paducah, on longest truss bridge in the world.


Announcement of new IC Shops to be built between 11th and 16th streets, south of Kentucky. Ave. at estimated cost of $6,000,000.00, (later $8,000,000)


Edgewood Cutoff begun from Bluford, Illinois. to Fulton, Kentucky, passing just west of Paducah. IC buys 1/3 interest in P & I.

Aug. 1926

Gulf, Mobile, & Northern (later to become Gulf, Mobile, & Ohio) begins service to Paducah over tracks of N. C. & St. L


First train over Kentucky. Dam.

Mar. 1951

NC & St L passenger service to Paducah ends.


First diesel locomotive re-manufactured at Paducah Shops.


Last IC passenger service in Paducah ends.

Aug. 1957

Louisville & Nashville RR absorbs NC & St L

Mar. 1958

Last steam engine out-shopped at Paducah.


Extensive modernization of Paducah Shops for diesel remanufacturing begun by IC.

Mar. 1970

CB & Q merged with Great Northern and Northern Pacific to become Burlington Northern.

Aug. 10, 1972  The Illinois Central Railroad merges with the Gulf, Mobile and Ohio Railroad to form the Illinois Central Gulf Railroad.

Jan. 1973

Merger of IC and G M & O into Illinois Central Gulf approved by Supreme Court.

Feb. 15, 1982

Last L & N train leaves Paducah, ending 92 years of service over that route.

Aug. 27, 1986

Jim Smith and David Reed buy ICG RR from Mayfield to Louisville including Paducah Shops; reorganize into two companies: Paducah & Louisville Railroad and VMV. Enterprises.

Feb. 29, 1988  The ICG drops the “Gulf" from its name and again became known as the Illinois Central Railroad.


P & L and VMV. acquired by First Chicago Corp. Operations continue basically unchanged. P & L.  RR and VMV Enterprises are divisions of Kentucky. Railworks, Inc.

1990 IC completes sell-off of all trackage except Chicago to New Orleans main line.
1995 Burlington Northern acquires Santa Fe RR and becomes BNSF.
1995 VMV and P&L RR split; P & L, purchased by its officers and CSX RR; VMV Shops acquired by a Philadelphia investment group.
1999 Illinois Central bought by Canadian National Railroad.
2002 VMV declares Chapter 11 bankruptcy and closes; acquired and reopened by National Railway Equipment Co.
2003 P & L files for abandonment of old NC & StL/L & N lead from Caldwell St. to S. 6th St. at Norton St., ending 113 years of service on those tracks.