At a young age I became fascinated with underground mining and the miners themselves. In my teen years I would beg my dad to let me travel with him when he made calls on the coal mines of southern Iowa. He would provide hydraulic repair parts and services to many of the then surface strip mines. The underground mining had become a thing of the past. We would stop at many of the mines and support businesses like Felton Welding. Harry Felton was an icon in the south-central Iowa. He said he could weld anything, and I believe he could. He made his own acetylene from carbide. When there, the stories would flow, and I would sit there wide-eyed soaking it all in. Back in the day Felton’s was ground zero for all things coal equipment repair. Later as I took over the Southern Iowa part of the business, I became close friends with Harry and spoke frequently until his passing. One reason I purchased an adventure type motorcycle was I could explore and see all the things I couldn’t see from the road. What a perfect tool to seek out all those places I heard of in my youth. So where to start? To be honest you can’t swing a dead cat in south central Iowa and not hit a coal mine. It’s interesting that once you find some of these lost and obscured sites, they become easier to find. You learn to read the landscape. I decided my focus would be on Consolidated Coal Company. CCC was founded by Chicago and North Western Railroad in order to secure a large source of coal. Rather than just head straight down to their origins I decided to work my way down seeing important coal related sites along the way. So off we go along the river toward Runnels Over the river we stop at the town of Swan and The Black Swan Coal mine From Swan over to Marion county stopping first at Coal Ridge Church. The town of Coalport lay on the north side of the Des Moines river, now underwater, and was a community based around providing coal for the steam ships that traveled up and down the river in the mid 1800’s. All that remains today is the church on the hill. The church is filled with history and artifacts and still holds services during the summer. Walk in look around. Down to Flagler Past the Beard mine Through the town of Druham and the old train depot On to Harvey and the tracks that use to be one of the main thoroughfares to get the coal north. You can take it out to the edge of the river. It’s basically an island since the river changed course. Tracy and its historic cemetery Bellefontain bridge built in 1898 Eveland bridge built in 1876 Finally, to the start of our look at Consolidated Coal Company. Muchakinock was founded in 1875 and exhausted most of its coal by 1900. It quickly grew into one of the largest and most prosperous coal camps in Iowa. The town around 1900 And today North end of the town is now the county landfill On to Buxton Named after the mine superintendent John Buxton, who ran the Muchakinock mine, purchased 10,000 acres and founded the Buxton mine. This is truly a fascinating place to study. I have the fortune of having a close friend who grew up just north of Buxton. Called the wildest city east of Dodge Kansas and having racial equality are two of its odd attributes. My friends grandpa sold moonshine to the miners; Buxton was a dry town. His stories fall in line with the wild side of the town. The town had 2 YMCA’s with heated indoor swimming pools.