Nada Tunnel is a historic 900-foot (270 m) long tunnel along Kentucky Route 77 in Powell County, Kentucky, in the United States.[1][2] Formerly a railway tunnel, the presently paved tunnel has often been described as the "Gateway to Red River Gorge" for the shortcut it provides motorists to the Red River Gorge canyons of the Daniel Boone National Forest.[3][4]

Nada Tunnel
Nada tunnel (4943235887) (2).jpg
The Nada Tunnel in 2010
LocationPowell County, Kentucky, U.S.
Opened1911 (1911)
OwnerDana Lumber Company
Length900 feet (270 m)
Tunnel clearance13 feet (4.0 m)

Built for the Dana Lumber Company between 1910 and 1911,[5] Nada Tunnel (pronounced nay-duh by locals)[6] was named from Nada, Kentucky, then a logging town about 10 miles (16 km) past the tunnel's entrance.[7] Solid sandstone was blasted with dynamite and dug out with steam machinery and hand tools, with two teams working from each side of the ridge.[8][9]

The tunnel's original dimensions were 12 by 12 feet (3.7 m × 3.7 m), but when the first train load of logs became stuck and had to be blasted free, the tunnel's height was increased to 13 feet (4.0 m).[10] Narrow gauge steam locomotives of the Big Woods, Red River & Lombard Railroad regularly hauled timber extracted from the vast forests of the Red River Valley through the tunnel, to a sawmill 15 miles (24 km) away in Clay City.[11][12]

Once the forests had been cleared, the timber companies pulled out of the area. The railroad tracks were removed and a dirt road was laid in the unlit tunnel in order to accommodate horse and pedestrian traffic.[13] Nada Tunnel has since been paved to carry a single lane of road traffic.

Nada Tunnel lends its name to two prehistoric Native American rock art sites, namely "Nada Tunnel 1 Petroglyphs" and "Nada Tunnel 2", which were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1992.[14]

Myths and legendsEdit

There is a local legend that the Nada Tunnel is haunted by a ghost of a former tunnel construction worker who perished when a stick of dynamite exploded when being thawed at a nearby fire.[15]



  1. ^ "Nada Tunnel, Kentucky - Map and Latitude Longitude GPS Coordinates". Retrieved 2013-05-03.
  2. ^ "Nada Tunnel". Retrieved 2013-05-03.
  3. ^ Graybeal, Billie Sue (2008). "Nada Tunnel: The "Gateway To The Red River Gorge"". Kentucky Explorer magazine. Retrieved 2013-05-03.
  4. ^ "History and heritage celebrated in Nada this weekend". The Clay City Times. June 11, 2012. Retrieved 2013-05-03.
  5. ^ The Southwestern Reporter. West Publishing Company. 1915. p. 628.
  6. ^ Wohlfarth, Jenny (September 2008). "Curious Gorge: Finding Adventure and Solace In Red River Gorge and the Wilds of Eastern Kentucky". Cincinnati Magazine. p. 41. Retrieved 2013-05-03.
  7. ^ Kappele, William and Cora (April 1, 2000). Scenic Driving Kentucky. Globe Pequot. p. 45. ISBN 9781560447337. Retrieved 2013-05-03.
  8. ^ "Nada Tunnel (KY)". Retrieved 2013-05-03.
  9. ^ National Geographic Society (U.S.) (March 5, 2013). National Geographic Guide to Scenic Highways and Byways. National Geographic Books. p. 122. ISBN 9781426210143. Retrieved 2013-05-03.
  10. ^ Dow, Fred (January 1, 2005). U. S. National Forest Campground Guide: Southern Region. Moon Canyon Publishing. p. 137. ISBN 9780976751618. Retrieved 2013-05-03.
  11. ^ "Big Woods, Red River & Lombard Railroad". Retrieved 2013-05-03.
  12. ^ "Nada Tunnel (KY 77)". Archived from the original on 2013-06-14. Retrieved 2013-05-03.
  13. ^ Ballard, Sandra L.; et al. (2003). Listen Here: Women Writing In Appalachia. University Press of Kentucky. p. 285. ISBN 0813126320. Retrieved 2013-05-03.
  14. ^ "National Register of Historical Places - Kentucky (KY), Powell County". Retrieved 2013-05-03.
  15. ^ "Nada Tunnel Red River Gorge Kentucky". Cliffview Resort. Retrieved 2019-07-03.

External linksEdit

Coordinates: 37°49′2″N 83°40′51″W / 37.81722°N 83.68083°W / 37.81722; -83.68083