Chasing the Coal

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by 32dgrz, Nov 11, 2020.

  1. 32dgrz

    32dgrz Been here awhile Supporter

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    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.


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    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
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    Over the river we stop at the town of Swan and The Black Swan Coal mine upload_2020-11-11_11-1-20.png

    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.
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    Down to Flagler

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    Past the Beard mine

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    Through the town of Druham and the old train depot
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    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 and island since the river changed course.

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    Tracy and its historic cemetery

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    Bellefontain bridge built in 1898
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    Eveland bridge built in 1876

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    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

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    And today

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    North end of the town is now the county landfill

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    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.

    Attached Files:

    #1
  2. 32dgrz

    32dgrz Been here awhile Supporter

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    The company store was said to rival Chicago or New York City. The store employed 72 people
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    The building going up is the hotel

    The Buxton Hotel

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    Foundation for the company store

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    Foundation for the Hotel

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    Train warehouse (behind the barn)

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    Buxton company Pay Vault. The walls were 5 foot thick

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    YMCA’s

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    Buxton houses


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    The mine in its hayday employed 498 men.





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    #2
  3. 32dgrz

    32dgrz Been here awhile Supporter

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    The cemetery

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    Note the one marker states he was in the Spanish American war

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    Cooperstown was across the road of Buxton

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    There are some great youtubes of Buxton from Iowa State University, narorated Simon Estes whos parents were born there.

    On our way to Consol you know what to do right?

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    Buxton is played out and and Consolidated coal purchases ground off to the west 20 miles and Consol on the Whites Creek is born along with Bucknell ( Hadock) 2 miles to the west of Consol. Many of the miners commuted and took the 20 mile train ride from Buxton to Consol. The Mine superintendent Named the town Hadock but most called it Bucknell

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    Level C road back to the mine. It gets interesting and I plan to explore this more.

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    Peterson house


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    Sampson Movie theater



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    Generator building to run theater. Theater was run by 2 sisters. This was before talkies.

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    Attached Files:

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  4. 32dgrz

    32dgrz Been here awhile Supporter

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    Armstrong Meat Market

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    Last remaining house in Consol

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    To me Consol, Bucknell, and Haydock all run together

    Consol general store and post office then

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    And now. It was moved to Lovilia and added on


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    The miners went on strike shortly after CCC shaft 20 was completed 1929. CCC decided to close all Iowa operations and do all their mining in southern Illinois. The miners scrambled to find work. Some to Rexfield back to the east. Some to White Breast Mines by Lucas. With a good number headed up to Melcher-Dallas where the union hall still stands as a museum. We will pass this on our way home.


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  5. 32dgrz

    32dgrz Been here awhile Supporter

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    Time to work our way home and hit some B roads and a few more mines


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    Olmitz

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    Traveling with my dad in the early 80’s, highway 14 north bound from Chariton, just past Williamson and he points to the east and tells me the story about Big Ben mine. The story went that 2 people were killed in the mine from an explosion. There was a fire that they couldn’t get put out and the owner threw his hands up in the air, drove all his equipment even his Cadillac onto the property locked the gate and called it quits.



    Big Ben Mine

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    Looks like a Cadillac convertible to me


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    A few more B roads and then off to the house.

    I have a number of other areas and stories I’ve been told to explore.

    Stay tuned
    #5
  6. Krons

    Krons Been here awhile

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    @32dgrz This is awesome. Thanks for taking the time to tell the story. Beautiful country southeast of Des Moines.

    Putting this on the list for a [leisurely] ride when I'm back on the bike.
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  7. eemsreno

    eemsreno Super Tenere Rider.

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    You did a great job of putting this together., Thanks.
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  8. 32dgrz

    32dgrz Been here awhile Supporter

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    Working on getting the route and waypoints combined then I’ll post them
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  9. Amphib

    Amphib A mind is like a parachute....

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    I love thses kinds of historical reports. Thank you so much for posting this.
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  10. BarryB

    BarryB Been here awhile Supporter

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    Enjoyed your RR. Thanks for taking the time. I just love old photos!
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  11. popscycle

    popscycle Fahren Away Super Supporter

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    Outstanding RR, IMHO! History adds a great dimension to the pictures. Thanks for sharing it with us!!
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  12. GlobalriderTrev

    GlobalriderTrev GlobalADVrider Supporter

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    Very cool. You don't happen to have the track for this do you. I see @Krons was putting something together, but wondered if you have it somewhere?
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  13. 32dgrz

    32dgrz Been here awhile Supporter

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    I have the track I made with all of the way points for the points of interest. Ican’t seem to add it to the ride report. It won’t let me add them. I’m guessing it’s too large. I will try and get it in google drive or drop box for everyone

    We could make this a ride. It’s a day and a half ride if you want to stop and see everything. I camped at Red Haw state park.
    Check this out for more on that interesting night. post #158
    https://advrider.com/f/threads/talk-about-m-c-camping.427722/page-8#post-41084736
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  14. Krons

    Krons Been here awhile

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    You guys are gonna wait til February when I have Doctor clearance to ride again, right? Assuming I follow his ridiculous orders for 3 months of no riding....
    :-)
    I'll no doubt be a speed demon once I'm back...not!
    :gerg
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  15. chethro

    chethro Been here awhile

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    OP let me know if you would like me to delete this. I thought it might be of interest. The shot wasn't taken from my bike, but I have ridden my bike to work and was within 100 yards of this view. The pic is a bit grainy, but that was the technology back when I took this.

    The inside of the firebox where 1Mlbs an hour of coal are burned in it's final conversion to heat. 1300MW of electricity generated from 1000F steam at 4000PSI. The firebox is roughly 300' tall 55' wide and 110' across.

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  16. Awful Knawful

    Awful Knawful Motorcycle Hoarder

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    Very interesting , really enjoying this.
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  17. 32dgrz

    32dgrz Been here awhile Supporter

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    Attached Files:

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  18. Krons

    Krons Been here awhile

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    @32dgrz that looks like a fantastic route!
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  19. 32dgrz

    32dgrz Been here awhile Supporter

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    One of the places I wasn't able to get to was the cemetery at Muchakinock. It is surrounded by corn fields and getting to it would have been difficult until the harvest was over. Yesterday was a nice day so I went for a walk to see it.
    It's quite a large cemetery. Many of the deaths are in their 20s. It's surrounded on three sides by a fence.
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  20. luftkoph

    luftkoph Long timer Super Supporter

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    Excellent
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