Sunday, June 28, 2009

The "Big Mouth"

Vacation time at last! Our first real stop was to see some family in El Dorado Springs MO. We planned to attend a family reunion in Adrian MO and on the way found this small town with a "rich" history.

The Big Mouth resides on Park Ave and 7th St in Rich Hill Missouri. The Big Mouth is a coal bucket that was used to mine coal in this area. Rich Hill is known as “the town that coal built”. Sadly, when the coal mining left the area, the town became little more than a stopping place to take a picture of the bucket.
Big mouth was owned by the Pittsburg & Midway Coal co attached to the Midway Princess, a dragline that was used to remove the overburden (rocks, dirt and vegetation) from the coal deposits. (I sure wish I could have seen this in operation!) To get an idea of the size of Big Mouth, a dump truck that was used to haul out the coal could be parked inside the bucket. It held over 70 cubic feet of dirt and one scoop had a depth of 125 feet. The estimated weight was between 40 and 44 TONS!
The Midway Princes was dismantled and moved to Raton NM in the early 1990’s but Big Mouth is a permanent Rich Hill resident. The Coalminer’s Daughters use Big Mouth to host their life sized nativity scene every year for Christmas.
Visitors may stop by and take pictures and read about the history of the Big Mouth for free. Rich Hill is 20 miles north of Nevada MO on US Highway 71.
An interesting bit of history I found when I did some additional research for this post:
Dateline: Dec 4, 1919; Missouri Governor seizes closed coal mines and vows to operate them because the residents of his state are freezing in their homes due to no availability of heat source. (seems the mines had been shut down)Volunteers in Mo and from neighboring Pittsburg KS worked the mines to provide coal to the state residents and those in institutions.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Elk City Route 66 National Museum

We started out early Saturday from our home in Waynoka and met up with two couples in Woodward for breakfast. Then it was on south about 75 miles to Elk City. While we normally are focused on car show activities, we decided in advance of the road trip that we were going to drive the classics, but be spectators at the show and see what else was going on in Elk City.

We found the National Route 66 Museum Complex just blocks from the park where the car show was being held. After checking out all of the classics and watching the burn-out contest, we took a short rest under a shade tree before heading to the museum.

The museum complex is open to the public from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Since we now classify as seniors, admission was a mere $4 ($5 if you aren't old enough). Seemed like there were about a dozen different buildings on the grounds, some set up as store-front with big windows to see what was inside. Others allowed a full tour in welcome air conditioning. One of the most interesting was the Old Town Museum, a home purchased by the city in 1966 that was the beginning of the complex. is the web site I found to get the best information.

We also enjoyed our visit to the Paul Jones Drug Store where old fashioned bottle pop and ice cream were a welcome treat. Oh, and did I mention the chain flush toilet? This was a fun step back in time and brought tears to our eyes as we watched some children stare in wonder!