The Ottumwa Courier

Southeast Iowa

November 25, 2013

Pennsylvania man to move coal equipment

Attica — With the assistance of people all across the country - and Sweden - a 1915 Monaghan walking drag line, resting in the same location where it scooped its last load of dirt, will be transported from the Attica area to Pennsylvania. 

The piece of machinery belongs to the Moon family. It was used in the Moon and Son Mine from the early 1930s through the 1960s, according to Erschel Moon. 

Through a friend, a Pennsylvania man, Bob Kelley, heard about the existence of this relic. Kelley, whose background is in coal mining and construction, has been cleaning and rebuilding heavy machinery for nearly 30 years. It took close to 10 years, but Kelley was finally able to convince Moon to sell the walking drag line to him. 

"I didn't want to part with it," Moon said. "It was just part of my life." The machine holds many family memories for Moon, as they worked on the mines together. Part of the reason he gave in and sold it is because of vandalism. Parts of the machine have been stolen over the years. 

"It's definitely a piece of history," Kelley said of the machine. He and Moon agree that this is the only one left of its kind in the world. 

Kelley hopes to be able to tear the machine down, rebuild it and make it operational again. Moon is not convinced the machine will be able to ever run again. Kelley is confident, as he has restored several pieces of machinery. Twice a year in Pennsylvania, he participates in a fair that showcases his restored equipment. 

"I've purchased these things all over the country," Kelley said. "It's always been my hobby." 

Part of the appeal for him is the opportunity to show young people this equipment and how it functioned. Most are unaware of what the equipment is, though Kelley points out that equipment like the drag line is, "what our country was built with." 

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