Kentucky’s first major transportation routes were formed by part of the famous Wilderness Road and by the Ohio River valley. These routes were used by migrants traveling westward to Kentucky and beyond the Mississippi River. They also served as trade routes for commerce between Kentucky and the states on the Atlantic seaboard.
After the Civil War, the construction of numerous railroad lines gave the state an excellent transportation system. This system provided the state with its most widespread network of routes until the great increase in the use of the automobile and truck began in the 1920s. Western and central Kentucky have excellent transportation facilities, and the eastern part of the state has acquired adequate facilities.
Louisville is the principal transportation center in Kentucky. Kentucky is served by an extensive highway network that includes the state turnpike system, other state highways, federal interstate highways, and U.S. highways. In 2007 Kentucky had 126,474 km (78,587 mi) of roads, including 1,226 km (762 mi) of federal interstate highway.
Railroads provide freight service to most of the state’s major urban and industrial centers. Western and central Kentucky are well served by a relatively dense network of railroad lines. Several railroad lines cross Kentucky from north to south, but no one line crosses the state from east to west. In 2004 Kentucky had 4,249 km (2,640 mi) of railroad track. Coal accounted for 76 percent of the tonnage of goods shipped by rail and originating in the state in 2004.
Waterways still play a major role in the movement of bulk goods between Kentucky and other states. The Ohio River is the most important waterway. The state’s principal ports, all of them on the Ohio, are Louisville, Covington, Paducah, Owensboro, and Ashland.
The major cities of Kentucky are all served by airports and feeder lines link most of the urban centers within the state. Kentucky had 7 airports in 2009, many of which were private airfields. Blue Grass Airport in Lexington, Louisville International Airport in Louisville, Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport near Covington were the state’s busiest. Encarta "Kentucky" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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