Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Posts tagged ‘Big Muskie’

Carl Wickham Creates Miniature Civil War Wagons and Artillery

Carl wheel woodshop

Carl holds a hard-to-make wheel in his workshop.

When Carl Wickham retired, he began researching his genealogy. To his surprise, many of his relatives had been defending our country since the French & Indian War and the Revolutionary War. What made the biggest impact was the fact that he had several relatives in the Civil War including his great-great-grandfather, who was killed at the Battle of Missionary Ridge. Carl traveled there in 2016 to put a flag on his grave.

Carl - flag on grave

Carl visited the grave of his great-great-grandfather, who fought at Missionary Ridge during the Civil War.

   Then began the research on artillery and supply wagons that were used during the Civil War. In his spare time, he began carving a rough cannon out of wood, but it just wasn’t good enough for Carl.

Carl designs

He discovered a book with dimensional drawings of the Civil War equipment.

   He found a book, “Artillery for the Land Service of the United States,” containing detailed drawings for artillery used during the Civil War and used those illustrations to produce his 1/8” scale models out of wood.

Carl wagon 2

Carl even hand-carved the horses for this supply wagon.

   He has worked for nine years on developing his collection of models, which he often displays not only around the Ohio area but also at events in Michigan and Pennsylvania.

Carl miniatures

The cannon and wagon are 1/8″ scale Civil War Miniatures.

   It’s no wonder he has great skill with woodworking as his dad was a carpenter. Carl said, “I was raised in the woodshop.” He recalls wonderful years of growing up on the farm where they had beef cattle, horses and many fruit trees. The day they got their first tractor, a ’52 Ford, was a special occasion.

   Great memories of the farm surfaced easily. Butchering hogs and beef were big events for the whole family. He especially remembers the special treat of cracklins’, a small deep-fried piece of pork fat with a layer of skin attached. Eggs were delivered to M&K in Cumberland with a stop at Young’s Feed Mill to get sacks to match for his mom to make dresses.

Carl - Welded art

Welded artwork was his favorite early in life.

   Art and mechanical drawing at Shenandoah High School started Carl on the road to being a welder. His dad had an anvil so Carl decided to try blacksmithing. This was something he learned on his own through trial and error by reading books. Blacksmithing turned out to be his favorite hobby for most of his life.

Carl and Sandy welded porch railing

Carl and Sandy stand behind the ornate porch railing he created with golden leaves.

   Carl and Sandy were married in 1968 before he left to serve in the Army. There he was a radio operator and kept track of the battalion’s equipment. Upon his return home, Carl worked at Philo Electric. When it closed he got a job which was to last for thirty-five years – a mechanic for Central Ohio Coal.

Carl Big Muskie

His job for many years was repairman for the Big Muskie.

   For most of that time, he welded on the Big Muskie fixing parts that were broken. It took a lot of welding to fix anything due to its size. He worked on it until 1991, when the Big Muskie was dismantled. During that time, Carl worked seven days a week as was always on call for needed repairs. He continued working as a welder on Central Ohio Coal equipment until his retirement.

Carl - cupboard and map

He created this beautiful wooden cabinet and an inlaid map he holds.

   This man through the years has enjoyed many different activities around the farm but is perfectly content to stay home rather than travel. His many creations are shared with his family. He never sells any of his work. Everything from beautiful wooden cupboards, stands, and wooden inlaid pictures can be found around their home.

   In his younger years, Carl enjoyed having a large garden and many flower beds. Sandy, his wife for fifty-one years, said, “Carl can do about anything.” Sometimes she has to reheat meals for him as he gets so wrapped up in his work that he forgets to eat.

Carl miniature engine line shaft

This miniature engine he made works to perfection.

   While he has done gardening, blacksmithing, and welding in the past, today his energy is devoted to the Civil War miniatures that are amazing in their accuracy. He even carved the horses that pull the supply wagon. Their harnesses were made from an old leather coat he purchased at Goodwill.

Carl showing how to make a wheel

Carl spends many hours working in his shop to make perfect miniatures.

   Carl gives all the credit to “someone up above who gave me my talents.” He enjoys all of his various creative works which feel like play to him. “I am truly blessed.”

Carl miniature tools

Compare these carved miniature wooden tools with the quarter at the bottom center.

   His next shows will be in 2020 on January 18-19 at Kabin Fever in Lebanon Valley Expo Center in PA. Following that on April 25-26, Carl will be at the Yack Arena in Wyandotte, MI. Carl always enjoys telling everyone about his miniatures!

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Big Muskie Bucket Exhibited at Miners Memorial Park

Big Muskie 325 tons of earth in a single bite!  The Big Muskie took that bite quite easily while mining over twenty million tons of coal in  Muskingum County of Southeastern Ohio from 1969-1991. Today all that is left of the Big Muskie, one of the world’s largest draglines, is this bucket capable of holding many tons of earth.

Miners Memorial ParkOn a crisp winter afternoon, the curvy, scenic road happened to meander past the site of the Miners’ Memorial Park in Morgan County, Ohio where the Big Muskie Bucket is the centerpiece of the park. While the ground was covered in a light snow and the gates were closed, the sign said : Walk-Ins Welcome. That was invitation enough to explore a little closer. My footsteps were the first to leave imprints in the snow this January afternoon.

Big Muskie BucketConsidered one of the seven engineering wonders of the world, this bucket weighs 460,000 pounds empty. If you look closely in the bottom left of the picture, a teddy bear can be spotted on the left hand side of the bucket…and it truly looks like “just a drop in the bucket”! When you consider this is only the bucket of the dragline…well, the magnitude overwhelms you.  It has been estimated that twelve car garages could fit inside.

This massive mechanical wonder was last used by the Central Ohio Coal of American Electric Power, or AEP, in the rolling hills near Cumberland, Ohio. Lucky it was being used by AEP as this huge machine was run basically by electricity, using enough electricity daily to power over 27,000 homes.  Big Muskie had a crew of five and worked around the clock to take advantage of the lower nighttime per kilowatt-hour rate. When you check out the first picture, knowing the size of the bucket, you then realize how gigantic the entire Big Muskie really was, actually twenty-two stories tall!

The WildsAfter the land was mined, it was beautifully reclaimed as can be seen in this picture. The ground was smoothed, trees were planted, and it was again an inhabitable place for animals.  In fact, The Wilds, a haven for wild animals from all over the world, is located within a short drive and is where this picture was taken. If you look closely in the open range, you can spot a herd of buffalo grazing in the snow with a beautiful lake in the foreground. The Wilds is one of the largest wildlife conservation centers in the world with some type of safari available most of the year to explore nearly 10,000 acres of that reclaimed land.

Today, AEP maintains this Miners’ Memorial Park. It is a great place to relax, even on a quiet winter day, while strolling around the huge bucket. There are several areas available for picnics as well as a shelter, which houses displays on the Big Muskie when it was working as well as other information on the area. As land was reclaimed, many camping areas with lakes and fishing were included so it is a great place for family fun during the summer months.

Even though the Big Muskie is no longer in operation, coal mining is still an important occupation in these rolling hills. Warning: Watch out for fast moving coal trucks on every curve!

To visit the Big Muskie Bucket on your next visit to Ohio, travel I-77 and take Exit 25 in southeastern Ohio. Be certain you stay on Route 78 and after many bends and curves – a rollercoaster ride – of about 16 miles, you will arrive at the Miner’s Memorial Park. The area is open May – October, but you can walk in and explore at any time.  Be sure to stop and scan the hillsides.

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