We are asking you to join Miners Hall Museum Foundation in preserving a unique piece of coal mining history in Southeast Kansas.
This Page 618 Walking Dragline when restored, will be the second and largest dragline preserved for public display in the United States. This destination will benefit Southeast Kansas, bringing visitors, tourists, authors, and students from across the nation, creating local business revenue and interest in our unique coal mining history
Keith Haddock, co-founder of the Historical Construction Equipment Association in Bowling Green, Ohio, is the leading expert on earthmoving and surface mining equipment. He is a professional engineer, author, freelance writer and TV guest. Mr. Haddock states:
"I still believe that saving the Page dragline is of the utmost importance and the top of the list for all items to be preserved in America."
Donors will be recognized on our Page 618 Walking Dragline Donor Recognition digital wall. Additional giving level recognition includes donor names engraved on the donor plaque at the dragline site, and invitation to the dedication dinner, a signed picture, a MHM lifetime membership, and a signed copy of the limited edition book, 'Coal Mining Days' by Debby Ossana Close while supplies last.
Your support is crucial to our efforts! Become a Part of History by Preserving the Past for Future Generations!
Wilkinson Coal Company - Page 618 Walking Dragline
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 are pledging to donate 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, shown at its current location to the right, 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.
Once restoration begins, the project will be followed by the donor plaque and information signage, sidewalks, lighting, seating, fencing, and parking for cars and buses.
Please print, complete, and mail the following document to link arms with us in preserving a piece of history for future generations: Contribution Form. If unable to print, a check can still be mailed.
Send to Miners Hall Museum, 701 S Broadway Street, Franklin, KS 66743-8501
You can also donate with a credit/debit card straight off this website
We are an exhibition located within the Franklin Community Center & Heritage Museum in Franklin, Kansas. The public is invited to visit and view the mining artifacts as well as other historic items.
701 S. Broadway
Franklin, KS 66735
Hours of Operation:
Please call to schedule tours.
Donations of mining-related artifacts or photos may be dropped off Monday through Friday, 10 - 4pm.
Let’s go shopping! Today’s featured item: Amazon Army commemorative ornament. $10.00 each. Photo shows both sides of the ornament. Price includes an Amazon Army postcard. Find other unique gifts at great prices for everyone on your shopping list at Miners Hall Museum’s gift shop. No waiting for delivery. In stock and ready to wrap and put under the tree. Bags of coal for those naughty or nice kids (young or old). Ornaments, books, shirts, totes, Zibert Polka CDs, ornaments, Franklin and Arma mementos, and much more. We accept cash, checks, and credit cards. Open Monday – Saturday 10am-4pm. ...
Very interesting program today enjoyed by a large crowd. Red State: Socialism & The Free Press in Kansas was presented by Matthew Thompson, Overland Park, KS. The presentation discussed the rise and fall of the Socialist press in Kansas, as well as its causes, leaders, and detractors, and explored the role of free press.Funding for this program was provided by Humanities Kansas, a nonprofit cultural organization that connects communities with history, traditions, and ideas to strengthen civic life.Make plans to attend the next two programs associated with the Amazon Army Centennial. Follow us to stay updated on dates and times. The following programs are scheduled for November and December but there will be other events held in conjunction with the anniversary of the march. November 14, 2021: The Harlem Renaissance presented by Lem Sheppard, Pittsburg, KS. Using jazz, blues, spirituals, and poetry, this presentation spans the 1920s and explores the contributions of Kansas artists who answered the call to this unmistakable moment.December 12, 2021: The March of the Amazon Army presented by Linda Knoll, Pittsburg, KS. This presentation digs into the history of southeast Kansas coal mining and the spirited act that linked men and women together in one of the most dynamic pages in the story of American labor. ...
Article appearing in Pittsburg Morning Sun, October 23, 2021 featuring our Board Chair, Dr. Chris Childers. "History professor helps make local past come alive"PITTSBURG, Kan. — Chris Childers, associate professor of history at Pittsburg State University, says he can’t remember a time when he wasn’t interested in the past. He points to two events, though, that focused his goals. First, when he was in second grade, his local public library obtained a series of presidential biographies. He began reading his way through them. “I couldn’t get enough of it,” he said. Meanwhile, his grandmother was an amazing storyteller, outlining the family history. “I just always gravitated in that direction,” he said.In college he majored in history, but his advisor told him he needed to find a second field if he wanted to be a high school teacher. A lot of high school history professors become coaches, but his professor looked him up and down and said, “We both know you’re not going to be a coach.” He chose chemistry, which he enjoyed, but he never did anything with it. History was always his first love. Instead, he ended up teaching college at a few different institutions before ending up at PSU.His specialty is American history between the Revolutionary War and the Civil War, and lately, he has been moving backward in time. His first research project was set in the 1850s and focused on slavery in the Territories. Next, he began researching the 1830s, and his most recent project focused on the 1820s. Last weekend he gave a presentation at the University of Central Missouri in Lee’s Summit. It focused on the tension over slavery and westward expansion, broadly, American politics and Constitutional policy from the Revolutionary War to the Civil War. He is amused that UCM invited a Kansan to talk about the Missouri Compromise. But the research has taken off. He has now written three articles and two conference presentations. “It just kind of took on a life of its own,” he said. Part of the reason, he believes, is that there are some parallels between the Populist movement in the 1820s and the Populist movement going on in the United States today. In his discussion with students, he said, “they get it.” His goal is that students will learn from history so they won’t end up repeating it. The big question he wants students to answer for themselves is, “Who are we and why are we here?” “That has always been why I’ve done it,” he explained. “I think we’re going to continue down this path for quite a while. There’s not a lot of room for a swing vote.” But he adds, “Historians get in real trouble when they try to read crystal balls.” History is Childers’ guiding passion, but he has a couple of others as well. He is very interested in community service. He’s on the Board of Directions of the Miners Hall Museum in Franklin and finds the work there quite fascinating. He gets to do community history, and he gets to work with people who share his passion. Those include people like Linda Knoll, who researched and wrote a play about the Amazon Army. This is the 100th anniversary of the Women’s March, and Knoll is planning a number of activities to commemorate the event. Childers said, “That’s really good stuff that’s going on in the community. We’re working really hard to preserve the mining history of Southeast Kansas.” “I love being involved in the community and history allows me to do that,” Childers said. “There’s a neat backstory to that place.” The museum is housed in the former Franklin Community Center, which was built after the Franklin tornado. But before that, the building housed the United Mine Workers Union Hall. One of the things that excited him most about the Miners Hall Museum was his own family’s connection. The Childers side of the family has been in Southeast Kansas for six generations, he said. “My daughters will be the seventh generation.” When he first visited the museum, he ran across a book that documented all the miners who had been injured in the area mines. He decided on a whim to look up his great-grandfather, George Childers, and sure enough, there he was. He had been injured when a hot cinder blew into his eye. That family history is certainly one of Childers’ other passions. “I’m a dad. That is my favorite job,” he said. He has three daughters: Elyse, 8: Bridget, 6; and Jennifer, 3 — two redheads and a blond. “If I’d known how much fun it is, I would have started sooner.” He added, “Bridget is our live wire. She is comic relief for this family.” But of course there was graduate school to get out the way for both he and his wife Leah Childers. Leah is a mathematician for the Great Minds program, in charge of their high school curriculum. She taught at PSU for a while first, but now she works from home. Childers also works from home frequently; he loves the flexibility of his schedule. He can pick the kids up from school, take them home, and get a couple of hours of work in while they play in the yard. He said for a while he ended up running “a one-room schoolhouse” for his three children and about 100 college students. At the same time, he was writing a book on the 1830s, a biography of Ross B. Taney, who was Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court and author of the Dred Scott decision of 1857. “That may be my next project,” he said. “It won’t be a sympathetic biography. Taney’s not someone I can going to end up ad miring, but I want to understand him. In a lot of ways, he represents how the North and South really hardened on the issue of slavery.” The Southerners dug in, Childers said, and Taney is a perfect example of that. “I want to understand it because I think it might tell us something about the way the Civil War started out the way it did.” “I think there’s some currency there,” he said. ...
Today’s featured items: MHM ornaments collectible set. First five editions $12.00 a set. Can also be purchased individually for $3.00 each. Let’s go shopping! Find unique gifts at great prices for everyone on your shopping list at Miners Hall Museum’s gift shop. No waiting for delivery. In stock and ready to wrap and put under the tree. Bags of coal for those naughty or nice kids (young or old). Ornaments, books, shirts, totes, Zibert Polka CDs, ornaments, Franklin and Arma mementos, and much more. We accept cash, checks, and credit cards. Open Monday – Saturday 10am-4pm. ...
Article appearing in Pittsburg Morning Sun Thursday, October 21 by J. T. Knoll.Truth, justice, and American Socialism“Truth is the daughter of time, not authority.” — Francis BaconOnce upon a time Girard, Kansas was home to a national newspaper that sought to protect democracy.Founded at the turn of the 20th century by J.A. Wayland, the newspaper put forth that social change could be effected through the ballot box, and Wayland consistently favored all kinds of political activism. Problem was, Wayland was a Socialist … and Socialism was tied to Bolsheviks and Communism. Most historians now agree that the form of Socialism advocated by Wayland and the paper’s editors was a distinctly "American" form of the philosophy. Quite simply, Wayland felt that if enough people could be persuaded to vote for Socialist candidates, the nation would change. But to persuade them to vote Socialist, he had to first convince them that the existing competitive economic system must be replaced with a cooperative one, and that this change could occur through radical political activism.Wayland’s paper wasn’t the only one. Kansas was home to several Socialist newspapers at the turn of the 20th century. A presentation by Matthew Thompson titled “Red State: Socialism and the Free Press in Kansas,” at Miners Hall Museum in Franklin on October 24th at 2:00 PM, will explore their locations and philosophies."Even though our current political discourse often maligns socialism, the version that thrived in Kansas a century ago reflects the values many Americans still consider hallmarks of our national identity - equality, peace, and freedom of speech,” Thompson said. “And under the shadow of World War I, the Socialist press ardently advocated for these causes, despite threats of censorship and even imprisonment.”Thompson teaches history at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, serves as assistant registrar at the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, and is a consulting historian for Sunflower Republic, LLC.The program, which is made possible by Humanities Kansas, is part of the Miners Hall Museum Amazon Army Centennial exhibit and speakers’ series. Members of the community are invited to attend the free program. For more information, call 620-347-4220. Getting back to protecting democracy, right now the press needs to be focusing on justice and free and fair elections — not every diddly-poo piece of sensationalism that they can dig out.Also, telling the truth in this time of lies and polarization. One need not get too wordy to do this.Take, for instance, the fact that Donald Trump, when in office, lied multiple times a day and constantly tested democracy’s limits. What’s more, he continues to say the election he lost was stolen - and pressures Republicans to say the same.Reprehensible.Then there’s the members of Congress that deny or downplay the threat to our democracy posed by the violent insurrection on January 6th. Disgraceful.Reflect on the fact that Republican governors and legislatures are doing all they can to prevent people from voting and ensure that they have the power to overturn the vote if it does not satisfy them.Appalling.Now consider that the wealth gap between America's richest and poorest families has more than doubled since 1989, and that our income inequality is the highest of all major industrialized nations.Shameful.Which brings me back to J.A. Wayland — a man of the people who believed the exclusionary economic and political systems of his time needed to be replaced with more inclusive and cooperative ones. It’s past time, methinks, for us to bring his philosophy back. I’m not saying it’s time to resurrect the Socialist party here in the Little Balkans.What I’m saying is that it’s time to embrace logical thinking, fairness and democracy, all of which were exemplified in what Wayland named his newspaper — the Appeal to Reason.If you’d like to hear what Matt Thompson has to say about Wayland, join me at MHM on Sunday at 2 PM. I’m looking forward to his take on the Appeal, as well as the other Socialist publications across the state. If you have a remembrance and/or photo to share, send it — along with your name, address and phone number — by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by land mail to 401 W. Euclid, Pittsburg, Kansas 66762. You can phone and text photos to 620-704-1309 ...