Pikeville: The City That Moved a Mountain

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Nestled in the Appalachian Mountains, in Kentucky, along the Levisa Fork — a tributary of the Big Sandy River — lies the thriving city of Pikeville. It’s a small city of less than 7,000 residents, but those seven thousand must be some of the most important people on this planet. They were pissed that they had to wait at the railway crossing while the coal cars went by spewing dirty black dust upon the residents. They were pissed at their river Levisa Fork for breaking banks every year and flooding their city. So they undertook one of the largest earth-moving projects in the entire Western hemisphere, third behind the Big Dig and the Panama Canal.

They butchered a mountain and created a kilometer-long and 400-meters-wide channel, called the Pikeville Cut-Through. Through this cut they diverted a four-lane US Highway, some railroad tracks and a freaking river that originally looped around the city. Thanks to the federal grant of $77.6 million ($161 million in 2015 dollars), those seven thousand residents now get to enjoy coal-free air and keep their feet dry all round the year.

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The Pikeville Cut-Through. Photo credit: Geocaching

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