The National Construction Equipment Museum in Bowling Green, Ohio: Working to preserve the history of the construction equipment that shaped our world.
All children have an inherent fascination with heavy, earthmoving machinery. But for Thomas Berry, archivist at the Ohio-based Historical Construction Equipment Association (HCEA), the allure went much deeper and farther back…all the way to the beginning, to be exact.
“It’s the only museum of its kind in the world,” says Berry. “Our goal is to restore machines that show how each type of construction machine has evolved.”
Arguably, one of the most unique segments of the historic vehicle community—construction vehicles—also has a special and paramount place of importance in America’s history if you talk to people like Berry.
“The historic vehicles we deal with mined the raw materials from which the more traditional historic vehicles were made, constructed the factories where they were produced, and built the infrastructure where they were used,” he says.
Owned and operated by the Historical Construction Equipment Association, the NCEM facility features exhibits and artifacts that represent the development and history of construction machinery from the 1800s to the present day. The collection includes 75 machines dating from the early 1900s through the mid-1960s. Over 20 of these machines have been restored by museum volunteers to original physical and operating condition.
The collection includes everything from horse-drawn graders to steam-powered rock drills, dump trucks, tractors, front end loaders, scrapers, and truck cranes.
“The HCEA was founded in 1986,” says Berry, adding that the HCEA now has 4,100 members from 25 countries throughout the world. The NCEM also hosts regular and widely popular open-to-the-public shows. This year’s show is slated for July 8-10 in Penfield, Illinois, while the next show at Bowling Green is scheduled for September 14-16, 2012. Check the Historic Construction Equipment Association’s website for further details.
“At our last stand-alone show at Bowling Green,” says Berry, “over 7,000 people came to see the over 300 exhibits we had on display.” These included all variety of historic construction and mining machines, trucks, old engines, and working demonstrations.
The museum and archives has served book authors, producers of television programs, private individuals working on restoration projects, and researchers from throughout the United States, Canada, and as far away as Japan, Spain, Italy, Argentina, and Australia.
Star of the museum vehicle collection is a 1926 Marion Power Shovel, according to Berry. The Marion shovel was the smallest electric-powered conventional excavator ever built and is believed to be the only electric-powered construction excavator to be preserved and restored.
The NCEM archives encompass catalogs, sales literature, photographs, repair manuals, and business records for over 3,200 manufacturers of machinery, attachments, engines, and truck and trailer equipment. Spanning from the 1870s to the present day, the archives’ holdings include major collections of records from the Marion Power Shovel Company, Euclid, Terex, Volvo Construction Products, Galion Iron Works, Clark Equipment Company and Clark Michigan, Allis-Chalmers, Fiat-Allis, Austin-Western, and the Cleveland Trencher Company. Click here for a direct link to the National Construction Equipment Museum.