The Pikeville Cut-Thru

Eastern Kentuckians literally move mountains. The magazine is named for the spirit exemplified by the Pikeville Cut-Thru.

Completed in 1987, the Pikeville Cut-Thru is one of the country’s largest engineering and earth-moving achievements.

Pikeville Cut-Thru
The Pikeville Cut-Thru

The inspiration of Pikeville Mayor William Carter Hambley, construction took 14 years, involved blasting 23 million cubic yards of rock, moving five million cubic yards of dirt, involved nearly 20 state and federal agencies, and carried a price tag of $60 million.

The result is a channel – 1,300 feet wide, 3,700 feet long, and 523 feet deep – into which the railroad tracks were relocated and the Big Sandy River was diverted. Corridors of U.S. Highways 23, 119, 460 and Kentucky Route 80 were combined into a four-lane road.

The Cut-Thru created or opened up 390 acres of usable land, nearly doubling the amount of flat land adjacent to the town, all of which is now free from the threat of flooding (Pike County Chamber of Commerce).

The Pikeville Cut-Thru, and similar projects, change the way residents live. The necessary cost of progress, however, is measured in more ways than in dollars. Many homes, my grandparents’ included, were torn down or moved. A way of life comes to an end.

Still, the creative, no-nonsense spirit of the people of eastern Kentucky continues.

Tim Skeen
Founding Advisor

Birth of a Journal


Former BSCTC English professor Tim Skeen and a resourceful group of volunteer editors that included Alicia Bartley, Tiffany Caudill, Jeff Hunter, Brandon Reynolds, Gordon Taulbee, Mark Vanderpool, and Sabra Jacobs published the premiere issue of the Cut-Thru Review in the Spring of 1997.

John Haywood designed the cover, 500 copies were produced, and a Big Sandy tradition was born.

Mary Ruth Wallen inherited the role of faculty advisor when Tim accepted a teaching position at Fresno State in 2004.

Gordon Lester created the website and became online editor of the Review in 2010.

Frequent contributor Sheldon Compton followed Wallen as faculty advisor in January 2015.


We greatly appreciate the support of all those in Public Relations, Academic Affairs, and Information Technology without whom this publication would not endure.

The Cut-Thru Crew

Faculty Advisor Sheldon Lee Compton
Online Editor Gordon Lester

Advisor Emeritus Mary Ruth Wallen
Founding Advisor Tim Skeen



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