The first vestige of this abandoned railway line was built between Salina and Plainville by the Salina, Lincoln and Western Railway in 1886. At the same time, in western Kansas, the Oakley and Colby Railroad built a short 21-mile railway line connecting those two cities. The remainder was built two years later by the Lincoln and Colorado Railroad, thereby linking all three railroads together to form one continuous railway between Salina with Oakley. This was an important link as it connected "eastern" Kansas with "western" Kansas, allowing people and lucrative commerce to travel back and forth in the state. All three railroads came under Union Pacific Railroad's purview in 1898, who renamed the entire line the Plainville Branch.
Despite this railway being an important link for UP for nearly 100 years, a washout in 1993 between Salina and Plainville rendered the line severed, which UP determined was too costly to fix and therefore abandoned that portion of the line two years later. The rest of the line suffered the same fate in 1998.
Today, only a small portion of the line in Colby is still active.