The largest earth-moving effort to be undertaken in the United States, the Pikeville Cut-Through project, began on this date and by the time it was completed in 1987, the New York Times had dubbed it “the eighth wonder of the world.” The project was the second largest in the western hemisphere and surpassed only by the construction of the Panama Canal. Mayor William C. Hambley’s vision was to relieve annual flooding in Pikeville and eliminate the ever-present coal dust thanks to coal tipples and the C&O Railroad in his city. The 14-year project created a three-quarter mile long channel through Peach Orchard Mountain and moved the Levisa Fork of the Big Sandy River to create a new path for the railroad, the river, three U.S. highways, and one state highway outside of downtown Pikeville.
The cut-through also created 390 acres of land on which Pikeville could expand. When completed, 18 million cubic yards of earth had been moved thanks to the cooperative efforts of more than 20 federal, state, and local government agencies at a cost of $80 million.
This painting was a commission by the Pikeville High School Band Boosters Club as a fund raising project. The band was to perform in New York City at Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
The painting was used at the dedication of the project, which took place many years after the project (and the painting) began. It was the cover of the souvenir dedication booklet, part of the commemorative plaque given to Mayor W.C. Hambley and other state dignitaries, and also one of the remaining collectors prints presented to officially inaugurate the cutting of the ribbon to officially open the railroad and highway.