It took something like a military operation Tuesday to get a dragline bucket moved from a field south of Pittsburg to Pittsburg Steel, where it will undergo sandblasting and painting.
Its ultimate destination will be a new home on the grounds of the Miners Hall Museum, Franklin.
Coordinating the operation was Zachary Lambert, Life Scout with Boy Scout Troop 81, who is making this his Eagle Scout project.
“I’m doing the logistics, everything,” he said.
The actual moving was done by Sgt. William Rusk and Pfc. Ben Queen of the National Guard. They employed a Hemitt Load Hauling System and a Hemitt wrecker for the job, attaching hooks to the 8,000-pound bucket and hoisting it up, then backing the load hauling system vehicle under it.
“Because of the size of the bucket and the power lines overhead, we had to think outside the box,” Rusk said. “It was a challenge to lift it as a unit.”
The bucket might have remained in the field if not for Kevin Mitchelson, a member of the Boy Scouts Ozark Trails Council Executive Board and legal consultant to the board of the Miners Hall Museum.
The January special exhibit at the museum, hosted by General Machinery, will be “Tools of the Trade,” and Mitchelson and his group have held several meetings in preparation for the exhibit.
He said that he had noticed the dragline bucket many times, and it occurred to him that it might make a good museum exhibit.
“I drive to Baxter Springs a lot and go past it,” Mitchelson said. “There are actually two buckets sitting there in the field.”
He contacted Wendell and Lynda Wilkinson, who agreed to donate one of the buckets, which had been the property of the Wilkinson Coal Company, to the museum. Draglines were used in strip-mining operations to remove the overburden of soil from coal seams.
Mitchelson also called Lambert, who took it on as his Eagle project.
Lambert said he was allowed to choose which bucket would be taken.
“The one I picked looks like it’s less rusty and in better condition,” he said. “It’s also smaller and has less chains hanging from it, so it would be easier to move.”
Lambert’s father, Lt. Col. Chris Lambert of the Pittsburg State University military science department, contacted National Guard officials to see if they would be able to assist with the move.
“They got hold of myself and Pfc. Queen to pick up the bucket,” Rusk said.
The scout also coordinated with Kirk Nelsen, president of Pittsburg Steel and Manufacturing Co., Inc., which will provide its services for the sandblasting, priming and painting of the bucket.
Page 2 of 2 - He said that he and his fellow scouts will be able to watch part of that process, though he’s not sure yet about the time line involved.
“The bucket is going to be painted black,” Lambert said. “If they can’t save the numbers on the bucket, they can be painted on it in white.”
He and other members to Troop 81 plan to be at the museum grounds at 8 a.m. today to work on the concrete pad where the bucket will sit.
“The dragline bucket will look amazing at the museum,” said Phyllis Bitner. “We have a lot to be thankful for, including living in this great part of the country where everyone pitches in to help out.”