What happens when the railroad leaves town? Our hometown of Corbin, Kentucky is beginning to see the impact that the closure of the railroad will have on the town.
Growing up there was always a railroad nearby. I never really thought about the railroad though. If anything, I viewed it as an inconvenience. The train going through town at night, blowing it’s whistle and waking everyone up or being stuck trying to get from one side of town to another because of a train going through the railroad crossing. I never really stopped to think about how much financial impact the railroad has on our town.
Corbin, Kentucky has long been known as a railroad town. The L&N Railroad (now CSX) has been the backbone of the town’s economy since the first half of the twentieth century.
This week the residents of Corbin learned that CSX has closed the mechanical shops in Corbin. The result of that is that approximately 180 employees are now without a job and projected to be even more by the end of the year. That may not really sound like a lot, but in a town with a population of around 7,000, 180 jobs is a lot to lose.
A railroad job has always been one of the higher paying jobs in our small town. If you could get a job with the railroad then you were set.
Now what will happen when some of the highest paying jobs are no longer here?
I believe the closing of the railroad will have a major financial impact on this town. There are local businesses that draw the majority of their revenue from the railroad, or railroad employees. Those businesses now are looking toward their future and wondering how long it will be before they have to shut their doors.
The railroad has stated that the closing is the result in the decline of coal being transported from the Appalachian region. According to a statement made by U.S. Representative Hal Rogers, “Since 2009, our eastern coalfields alone have lost more than 9,000 jobs, and the ripple effects on coal-related industries are clearly being felt.”
For the last several years I have seen news stories concerning the loss of coal jobs. The impact of that has now hit our local community. So how will the loss of these CSX jobs really impact our community? Only time will only tell.