I am originally from Central City, KY in Muhlenberg County. I was born in Owensboro, but lived in Central City for a little over 20 years until I married and moved to Lexington. I soon divorced and re-married where I moved to Nashville, TN. That's my current home, but I stay on-top of the happenings back "home" and I try to stay in touch the best I can. I love my hometown and the people that make it up. Most of them are just good country folk with a great sense of humor and a true idea of what friendship and love are. A few of the rare things you'll hardly ever find in Nashville believe it or not.
Never the less, we all know that the Western Kentucky Coalfield's coal industry took a big hit in the mid 1980's and then took a knock-out blow in the early 1990's with both "Clean Air Act's". Technology has finally caught up with the laws and with that means that all the coal that was left behind, plus the added need for power has helped drive demand back up from 1% last year to over 5% this year. Muhlenberg County was one place where alot of coal was left behind due to its location, and it wasn't alone. There was (in places) well over 100 years worth of coal left behind by the big boys like Peabody Energy, AMAX, Arch Minerals, etc. If one took a trip to Muhlenberg County, Hopkins, Ohio, or Webster County's back in the 1970's and 1980's, a sight very much like these two were very common!
CAUTION, these are all large pics so forgive me!
Or in Muhlenberg County for example....
Yes, that's the good ol' massive Marion 5960 known as "The Big Digger"!!
Throughout the 1990's and the early 2000's, one would see small operations that were usually construction companies trying to make money on the side come and go. Never was a steady paycheck for most, but it was work. The KenAmerica mine opened up in a shaft Peabody dug for its River Queen Mine to explore the possibility of mining up everything north of Highway 70 with draglines, the Marion 5960, and a Underground Mine. Problem is, the Clean Air Acts put a very quick stop to that.
Now we all move ahead to today and we see draglines popping up on the countryside again. In Ohio County alone, three Page 752's have been moved and rebuilt from Madisonville and Providence, respectfully, for Armstrong Coal Company. I recently got a look at what was taking place over there and I have to say it totally blew me away. The moral was high, the pay was good, benefits are envious, and the lifespan of both the Midway and the (soon to be opened) Equality Surface Mine are long. Very long. We are talking lifespans (so long as demand and contracts keep it running) that could reach in upwards of 40 years and this is just the start of things in Ohio and Muhlenberg Counties. In Ohio County, Armstrong has rehabilitated the old Peabody River Dock/Coal Washing Tipple behind the Big Rivers D.B. Wilson Power Plant and they have acquired mineral rights that would leave you speechless. To get to the coal, the company has three, yeah that's right, three draglines to help uncover the topsoil and rock. These are the old Andalex Coal draglines that used to sit off Highway 70 outside of Fies, KY and one of the draglines used to belong to Smith Coal in Providence, KY.
I got to look at one of these draglines that will be employed at Equality Surface Mine just outside Centertown, KY on highway 69. It's a Page 752LR Walking Dragline and it's not what it used to be.
The machine is totally digital. Full computerized operations, auto greasing and oiling on the machine and real-time computer information on the machine and also the other two respectively. Two draglines will strip at the Equality mine while one is already digging at their Midway Surface Mine.
Here is just a taste of what they have there. If you want the full tour, and there will be more to come after the first of the year!! Then please visit my "Flickr" website with all the pictures online. This was a complete honor and treat to see. I have been on Peabody's 1260 and their 5960 Shovel because my dad was a 17 veteran of River Queen Surface Mine. I actually have over 150 years of coal mining history in my family back home, so this stuff is all basically a part of who I am.
Here are a couple of pictures of this completely refurbished Page 752LR. Remember, if you want the full tour, then stop by here: Armstrong Coal Company (Kentucky) - a set on Flickr
(http://www.flickr.com/photos/perspectivephotography/sets/72157623020345264/ - broken link)
Now for the pictures!
Inside is almost spotless and it WILL remain that way during operation due to the large amount of computer equipment installed now. Part of this is due to the fans being re-positioned to the top of the house and the house will be pressurized just slightly to keep the outside air & dust OUTSIDE!
Operators Cab no longer uses foot pedals to swing the dragline. Everything is digitally controlled up here. The draglines operations are digitally controlled by a couple of switches and the two Joysticks. That's it! Only two people will be Full Time employed on this machine unlike the old days when it took up to four. The Dragline Operator and an Electrician. Oh, and yes, that arm with a mount on it will have a touch-screen computer on it that will be able to give the operator every single piece of info about their machine they could possibly want to know in real time. Even the pit boss' and other mine boss' will be able to see what's happening in real-time on these draglines on their personal computers at home with just a simple double-click of their mouse!!!
Here's the other dragline (another Page 752) that used to strip for Brown Bagget's mine here in Muhlenberg County back a long time ago! It has a while to go before it's ready though. On this day, they had just finished raising the boom and setting the boom pins.
KU's Green River Generating Station from Kinchloe Bluff in Ohio County where the draglines are being put together and will soon strip.
I hope you enjoyed this! Like I said, go here: Armstrong Coal Company (Kentucky) - a set on Flickr
(http://www.flickr.com/photos/perspectivephotography/sets/72157623020345264/ - broken link) for the full tour!
Please keep the environmental comments to a minimum and respect my wishes on that. Thank you in advance. Everyone have a Merry Christmas and a very Happy and Safe 2010!!! If you've got any questions, comments, or concerns please let me know!!!!!!