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Wednesday, Dec. 24, 2014

Miners Museum festivities on tap for Sunday

Saturday, January 12, 2013

The latest outdoor installment of the Miners Museum in Franklin is the subject of a dedication celebration set for 2:30 to 5 p.m. Sunday.

The museum is located at 701 S. Broadway, Franklin, on Business U.S. Highway 69. A dragline bucket used in strip-mining operations to remove the overburden of soil from coal seams will be revealed and other festivities held.

The drag-line bucket was owned by Wilkinson Coal Co. and was donated by Wendell and Lynda Wilkinson.

The ceremony will be hosted by General Machinery & Supply Co. Inc., which is owned by the Mitchelson family and is kicking off its centennial year, said Kevin Mitchelson.

"The Way We Worked in Southeast Kansas -- Tools of the Trade," a special monthly exhibit hosted by General Machinery, is one of many leading to the Smithsonian traveling exhibit, "The Way We Worked," coming to the museum May 11-June 23.

The exhibit explores the stories of America's workers and invites viewers to consider how the workplace and workforce have changed over time. Through photographs from the National Archives, audio and video clips and hands-on components, Kansans will discover how work makes America.

The Gordon Parks Museum at Fort Scott Community College has been chosen as a partner site and grant recipient for the Kansas Humanities Council's "The Way We Worked" exhibit.

Mitchelson said this is a great way to get the Miners Hall Museum jump-started. "And it's drawn a lot of people to the museum. It's helped them add a lot of items to their collection," he said.

Phyllis Bitner, board member and co-director of the Smithsonian Exhibit, said, "We just had our grand opening in May. It's grown so quickly. It's just amazing. We average between 500 and 700 visitors a month."

Some museums that have hosted the exhibit have seen 20,000-25,000 visitors, Bitner said.

An Eagle Scout Project by Zachary Lambert, Life Scout with Boy Scout Troop 81, will also be celebrated. He refurbished the bucket, poured a concrete base for it and transported it to the museum for permanent display, Mitchelson said. He added the bucket was repainted with help from the staff at Pittsburg Steel Manufacturing Co. in Pittsburg.

A trivia contest is scheduled for 4 p.m.

Among other things, the museum, which offers free admission, also includes a big-screen TV and computers with slides and a gift shop with books about mining in the area.

Bitner said it's more than just tools. It tells the story of the miners' whole lives from their immigration through school and their social lives, including the women and children.

Visitors are encouraged to leave their stories on iPads, which were provided through a grant from the SEK Future Fund in Pittsburg and there are features for kids and a research library.

"They answer the question and it electronically sends it to the Smithsonian," Bitner said. "Then these stories are going all over the country. We just got these up and running."



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