We all know that Kentucky is capable of doing great things, but would you ever imagine that a tiny town in our state could literally move a mountain? The eastern Kentucky town of Pikeville dared to dream big back in the 1970s when it began what would end up being one of the largest engineering feats the world has seen. It’s incredible to think that a small mountain town in the Bluegrass State could accomplish the Pikeville cut-through overlook, but then again, it makes sense that it would happen in Kentucky.

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Learn more about the Pikeville Cut-Through Project and see more of this charming town here:

The Pikeville Cut-Through Project is not just an impressive engineering feat, but a true wonder that so many people, companies, and agencies were able to work together to see this to the end. And the proof of this marvelous endeavor can be found in a small mountain town in eastern Kentucky. Did you know about this incredible project and its magnitude? Share your thoughts with us in the comments and tag someone who you believe will enjoy learning about it!

For more information on the project, visit the Pike County website.

And if you’d like to see the Pikeville Cut-Through Overlook for yourself, add it to this Eastern Kentucky Road Trip.

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Pikeville cut-through overlook

What was the Pikeville cut-through project?

The Pikeville Cut-Through Project in Pikeville, Kentucky, stands as a monumental civil engineering achievement, rivaling the scope of projects like the Panama Canal regarding earth moved. Initiated in the 1960s under Mayor William C. Hambley's leadership, this ambitious endeavor carved a 1,200-foot-wide, 3,700-foot-long, and 523-foot-deep gap in Peach Orchard Mountain between 1973 and 1987. Pikeville effectively tackled persistent flooding issues by rerouting the Levisa Fork of the Big Sandy River through this cut. Additionally, the relocation of railroad tracks streamlined transportation, while the excavation provided invaluable flat land for urban development. This transformed terrain now houses a regional medical center, university facilities, and a segment of the city's commercial hub, reflecting the project's profound impact on Pikeville's economic and infrastructural landscape.

What are the biggest engineering feats in Kentucky?

With its rich history and diverse geography, Kentucky has been home to numerous engineering achievements over the years. Here are some of the most significant engineering feats in the state:

  • Pikeville Cut-Through Project: As previously mentioned, this is one of the largest civil engineering projects in the western hemisphere. It involved rerouting the Levisa Fork of the Big Sandy River and relocating railroad tracks, while also creating valuable flat land for development.
  • Kentucky Dam: Built on the Tennessee River, the Kentucky Dam is the largest of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) dams. It was constructed not only for flood control but also to facilitate navigation and generate hydroelectric power.
  • The Big Four Bridge: Initially built as a railroad truss bridge in 1895, it spans the Ohio River between Louisville, Kentucky, and Jeffersonville, Indiana. The bridge was eventually repurposed for pedestrian and bicycle use, becoming a significant landmark and attraction for both cities.
  • Louisville Mega Cavern: Originally a limestone cavern, this underground site was transformed into a massive storage facility and later developed into a tourist attraction offering zip lines, an obstacle course, and tram tours. Its creation and repurposing involved significant engineering and geological expertise.
  • Cumberland Gap Tunnel: This tunnel runs beneath Cumberland Mountain, providing a crucial transportation link between Kentucky and Tennessee. The project involved extensive tunneling work and remains a vital part of the region's transportation infrastructure.

 

These engineering feats showcase Kentucky's determination to overcome geographical challenges, optimize transportation, and enhance both the economy and quality of life for its residents.