Through the preservation of Morehead’s history with railroads, educating students at Morehead State and coaching sports, Steve Young has made an impact on many people in Rowan County.
Young was nominated for and won the Ora Cline award, the most prestigious award given by the Morehead-Rowan County Chamber of Commerce to a caring, supportive community-minded individual with perseverance and patience that has helped make the community a better place to live, work and visit.
“It was totally unexpected. Caught me absolutely by surprise. I think my mouth dropped open, literally,” said Young.
Young has been a resident of Rowan County since his family moved from Louisville shortly after the end of World War II. He was 2 years old.
“Personally, I think he’s a great motivator for getting things done and for helping to preserve local history,” said Cindy Leach.
With projects like the History and Railroad Museum, creating educational TV shows during his time at MSU and coaching a little league team, Young has been very involved in community service and making Rowan County a better place to live.
“It’s like a well. A well is there to nourish you and provide water for you, but a well has got to have some means of replenishment, some way to keep it going. The way you keep a community going is through community service,” said Young.
Young’s most recent community service project is the History and Railroad Museum at 130 E. First Street in the location of the old train depot.
The museum got its start when Young and his wife Barbara started passing an old train at the old Morehead-Norfolk railyard every day on their way to work at MSU where Old Number 12, an old steam locomotive, sat.
“I used to tell Barb, you know ‘somebody ought to display that locomotive,’ and Barb got tired of hearing it I think because I’d say it virtually every day,” said Young. “Finally, she said ‘Steve, somebody is not going to do it. If you think that thing ought to be displayed, then you’re going to have to do it yourself.’”
After over a year of negotiating with the owners of the locomotive, it was bought by an out-of-state collector and taken to Ohio.
“But, as they say, when one door closes, another one opens, and it was just about that same time when the old freight station building became vacant again,” said Young.
Young and other volunteers began to work to preserve Rowan County’s rich history of railroads. Young said Morehead would not be the city it is today if the railroads had never traveled through the county.
“A lot of folks don’t realize that until the railroads came to Rowan County, this was a little one-horse town,” said Young. “If you wanted to go to Farmers, it was an all-day trip. You had to hitch up the team to the wagon, and there were no roads. You literally had to follow a few cow paths here and there and you had to drive a lot of it in the creek, if the water wasn’t up.”
Young said the railroads gave citizens of Rowan County the first chance to travel in a time when it wasn’t uncommon to spend your entire life in the county you were born.
The museum is currently open Thursday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Young continues to work to better his community.
“Folks will tell you ‘well, I pay my taxes.’ Well, yeah, and that’s true, and government does provide certain basic services, but the things that make a community unique, the things that really provide the compassionate types of feelings that you get about a community, about living in a particular area, that’s something that government can’t provide. That’s only provided through community service,” he said.
Daneyl Tackett can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 784-4116.