CRAWFORD COUNTY, Kan. — Kansas Tourism announced this week that Miners Hall Museum will receive $337,500 to help preserve an important piece of SE Kansas Coal Mining History.
The grant goes toward relocating and renovating a Page 618 Walking Dragline, which is a unique piece of coal mining machinery that was used to dig for coal in Cherokee County.
This is only one of eighteen Page 618 Walking Draglines ever built and only one of two Page 618s still in existence. It will be the largest walking dragline preserved for public display in the U.S., and is the only restorable walking dragline of its kind known to exist.
It will be relocated to the US-69 and KS-47 junction just south of the museum in Franklin, making it a highly visible destination roadside attraction sure to inspire historians, mechanics, educators and others.
The monies comes from a Kansas Tourism Task grant and the Patterson Family Foundation. The John U. Parolo Education Trust has pledged an additional $250,000 towards the project.
WILKINSON COAL COMPANY
William Wilkinson was born in Pelton Fell, England, in 1862. He worked the mines from the age of 10 and came to Weir City, Kansas, in 1883 at the age of 20 to continue mining. In 1917, he started his own deep mine a mile south of Fleming, Kansas. Wilkinson Coal Company, Weir City, Kansas, operated from 1917 to 1979. William Wilkinson died in 1932 and his sons continued the mining operation.
A Walking 618 Page Dragline with a 110 foot boom was purchased in 1953 from Alexandria, Louisiana, and shipped by rail to Weir City for the strip mining operation. The dragline was later used for clay mining by the Mission Clay Company. It later came back tot he Wilkinson family when Wendell Wilkinson purchased it from Mission Clay.
John W. Page invented the dragline in 1904. A walking mechanism was developed a few years later, allowing draglines mobility free of rails and rollers, and was adopted by the Chicago-based Page Engineering Company in the 1920s. The company introduced its popular 600-series draglines in the mid-1930s.
Wendell and Lynda Wilkinson donated the Page 618 dragline to Miners Hall Museum for the restoration project. Out of the eighteen built, this will be the only known Page 618 to be restored.
The dragline will make the 30.4 mile trip to Franklin, Kansas, intersection of US 69 Hwy and KS 47 Hwy, also known as Ginardi’s Corner (Source: Miners Hall Museum).
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