This abandoned railway was built in 1869 by the Elizabethtown and Paducah Railroad. It was later acquired by the Chesapeake, Ohio & Southwestern Railroad, itself purchased by a joint Illinois Central/Louisville & Nashville campaign in 1893; the line soon came under the control of the IC.
The line served a number of strip mines in the region, and included a number of small branch lines to gain access to these mines. The IC owned and operated the line up until the 1980s, when it abandoned most of the line, mainly due to the strip mines closing, and because the IC already had another line to the north that also connected Central City and Dawson Springs. About 5 miles of the line's western end, between Dawson Springs and Ilsey, was picked up by the Paducah and Louisville Railway, a regional shortline, who operated that segment up the P&LR filed for its abandonment, effective November 12, 2003. The tracks were removed the following year.