The story of a forgotten America.

Skyline Preparation Plant

The Skyline Preparation Plant is an abandoned coal preparation facility in Breathitt County, Kentucky.

The Skyline Preparation Plant was constructed in 1953 by the United Electric Coal Company, a subsidiary of Island Creek Coal Company, which strip-mined from nearby mountains. 5 6 The company utilized a large Bucyrus-Erie shovel, the “Star Knocker,” to strip overburden from nearby hills for coal around Evanston. Coal was shipped out via the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad Dawkins Subdivision. By the late 1970s, the Marty Corporation operated Skyline, followed by Utal Internation’s Sierra Coal and Consolidation Coal.

By May 1990, the Dawkins Subdivision was seeing reduced traffic because of the closure of nearly every mine along the branch. Of originating traffic on the line, 93% came from the Skyline Preparation Plant. 5 In 2000, the branch line was closed by C&O’s successor, CSXT, to revenue traffic due to needed repairs. 1 In 2002, the R.J. Corman Company acquired the 36.13-mile Dawkins Subdivision between Dawkins and Evanston from CSXT and started interchanging with CSXT at Paintsville on February 4. 1 3

The Skyline Preparation Plant was one of the remaining customers on the line, and coal was transported to the facility by truck and then sent to RJ for movement to Paintsville. However, due to needed repairs on the rail line, RJ ceased operations in 2003 4 and filed to abandon the Dawkins Subdivision on November 6, 2004. 2 3



  1. Pleasant, Bryan and Ron Stafford. “Dawkins Sub acquired by Corman.” Chesapeake and Ohio Historical Magazine Mar 2002: 3. Print.
  2. “Proposed railroad abandonments.” 2004. 10 Nov. 2009 Listing.
  3. Big Lovely Mountain Trail Feasibility Report. N. pag. Summit Engineering, Inc., n.d. Web. 13 Nov. 2009. Report.
  4. Stambaugh, Carrie. “Rail-trail plans on track, state officials say.” Independent [Ashland] 4 Sept. 2011: n. pag. Independent Online. Web. 8 Sept. 2011. Article.
  5. Young, Everett N. “Days on the Dawkins.” Chesapeake and Ohio Historical Magazine Apr. 1991: 10-14. Print.
  6. Lynch, Jake. “Rural Kentucky Primed for the Opening of the Dawkins Line Rail Trail.” Rails to Trails Conservancy, 30 May 2013. Web. 12 June 2013. Article.

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