Peabody Coal Company.
Ken Mine Machines.
Thanks to David Hope, Ray McClain,
Gary Durham, Danny Southard, Michael D. Davis
and others for helping make this Ken Mine Series possible.

A jrd stat on 8/5/07.
Updated on 7/12/10. Another Update on 12/27/10.

~~ Ken Mine! ~~
Ken Mine Machines

The BE 1450 Stripper.

In 1985, the BE 1450 Dragline, pictured above, was loaded onto three barges, that had previously been tied together, and readied for transit down the Green River to the Gibraltar Coal Mine, another Peabody Mine. After 20 plus years of operation at Ken Mine, the old dragline was "Walked" to the Ken Mine River Loading Dock area, on the Green River, where a small inlet had been cut into the bank of the river. The three barges were "sunk" so they would rest on the bottom of the inlet. The 1450 was then "Walked" onto the barges and secured. The barge combo was then re-floated and the loaded barges were pushed and pulled back into the Green River. With "Tugs" attached to the front and rear of the barges, the 1450 was to make its' first river voyage.

BE 1450 Bucket. Photo from Danny Southard.

This picture is of the BE 1450 bucket after it was moved to Gibraltar Mine. Danny Southard was taking kids from Muhlenberg County School system on a tour. Remember, this is the BE 1450 Dragline that was built at Ken Mine in 1964. It was a huge machine in that time frame. This dragline was operated at the mine for over twenty years. In 1985 this enormous Dragline was shut down at Ken Mine, loaded on a barge and shipped down river to Peabody Coal Company's, Gibraltar Mine. It was placed in operation at Gibraltar Mine and after several years of service and when the Gibraltar Mine closed, this machine was parked on a hillside just off Western Kentucky Parkway. It was located just west of the Green River and available for anyone driving the parkway to view. Rust and corrosion were beginning to have a negative effect on the shovel when it was purchased by Martin Marietta Minerals. The grand old machine was refurbished, on site, and painted a bright white color. It was looking good when it was "Walked" to the Green River. Just past where Earl Curtis had a farm, on the Rockport-Paradise Road, the BE 1450 walked the bottom land to a barge that had been partly submerged. The bottom land had previously been frozen to prevent the big machine from sinking in the crop land. The newly painted and refurbished BE 1450 was loaded on a barge and once again made a river trip to the new owner's property. This time, the river trip became a long trip and eventually became an ocean trip and the BE 1450 ended up in the Grand Bahamas. Work well old machine. A picture follows of the white, BE 1450 being floated past Rockport on its' way to the Bahamas. How would you have liked that trip with the shovel and then spend a few months teaching a new operator how to operate the machine?

BE 1450.
BE 1450
The refurbished BE 1450 is loaded on a barge and is heading downriver. It has just passed under the railroad bridge at Rockport and is about to go under the highway bridge. The photographer is on the highway bridge. Gary Durham sent me this picture and I would not doubt that he was the photographer. Thanks Gary.

Ken Coal Company-The Start Of Ken Mine.

Ken Mine saw its' beginning, in the mid forties, with an older Marion 350 electric shovel. This shovel was an old steam shovel that had been converted to an electric powered shovel prior to being sold to Ken Coal Company. Ken Mine purchased the 350 from Old Century Mines in Hopkins County. It was disassembled there, shipped to Ken Mine and resembled just off the Number 19 School road near Chinn Hill. This area was the start of Ken Mine. Now, Ken Coal Company had a "Stripper" working in a strip pit with a 9.5 Cubic Yard Bucket. The Marion 350 shovel was small, by today standards, but a worthwhile machine until the fifties. It was able to remove a lot of overburden and helped place Ken Mine as a productive strip mine. Production of coal started at Ken Mine in December of 1947.

Just a few years later, in 1948, Ken Coal Company purchased a second shovel. This machine was a monster in 1948 and visitors traveled for miles and miles just to view this Marion 5561 shovel with a bucket four times larger than the old Marion 350. In those days, visitors were able to get up close and personal to the mines and all of the equipment. As a teenager, I was able to drive up to a working pit and actually enter the operating cab of any of the machines including the Marion 350 and the Marion 5561. Some of the operators would actually allow a visitor to operate some of the controls. Yeah-Try that now! Anyway, the Marion 5561 was erected in 1948 and with a 40 Yard bucket. Wow, what a machine in those days! This wonderful old Marion 5561 was a mainstay at Ken Mine for years to come. The assembly pad was behind the rail tipple and that area would become the start of a new haul road to the Hi-View pit area of Ken Mine. Things were looking up and the mine was expanding with new miners being added on a daily basis.

Somewhere in the mid fifties, Peabody Coal Company purchased Ken Mine and that would be the start of Peabody in this area. Peabody Coal Company was founded in 1883 by Francis S. Peabody. At that time, this small Chicago coal company, started off with a delivery wagon and two partners. In years to come, there would be good times and hard times, but eventually this company would become one of the world's largest producer of mined coal.

After ten years or so of operation as Ken Mine, a relatively new shovel was purchased from Sinclair Coal's Homestead mine in Hopkins County. A BE 1050-B, with a 36 Cubic Yard Bucket, was disassembled in the fall of 1955 and shipped to Peabody Coal Company, Ken Mine. The erection pad was just off the river haul road and on the old road to Scottown. This road was just down from the old Echols to Hopewell Church Road. The BE 1050-B probably started operation at Ken in the 1956 time frame. Incidentally, when the Peabody Coal Company, Vogue Mine's 1050 was parked, the machine was walked off the crawlers, one at a time, and mats were moved in to sit the shovel on. The crawlers were trucked to Ken to be used on the Ken 1050B. When Dee Hall found out what had happened, he had the crawlers trucked back to Vogue. Later, they were trucked back to Ken and installed on the Ken 1050. After many years of operation, the BE 1050B was "Walked" to Peabody's Homestead Mine and was operational for a few more years.

After this used BE 1050 was purchased and shipped to Ken Mine, the mine became a big time event. With a 36 Yard Bucket, this BE 1050 was a monster in those days. It was put to work to remove overburden that was not possible a few years earlier. All went well for a few years and the BE 1050 seemed to be living up to the potential that was placed on it. Well, it eventually was moved to a pit and placed in a position where it should not have been working or maybe the knowledge at that time was not sufficient for the ability of the BE 1050. The area from Scottown and Brown's Slough back to the main haul road was an assignment that the BE 1050 was given. This area to be stripped consisted of an overburden of sixty or seventy feet, well within the limits of the BE 1050. The problem that developed was caused by a thirty or so foot layer of sandstone just a few feet below the ground. Whether the BE 1050 was just too small or whether the drilling and blasting was inefficient may never be known. None-the-less, the BE 1050 was trying to move boulders that would not fit in its' bucket and this old machine was put in a position that taxed all of its' power and capabilities. The welders, machinist, blacksmith, engineers and every craft worked in harmony to try to assist this old machine. Probably, a better and more efficient blasting procedure would have helped, but the BE 1050 was stressed to the max. Even today, this stripped area has not been sufficiently reclaimed. These monster sandstone boulders sat as placed originally by the BE 1050 and the area is not readily assessable. The pit surrounding the un-stripped hillside section does have some fish and any fisherman lucky enough to be able to place his boat in these water will view boulders that the BE 1050 should never have been called upon to handle. They are just too large. None-the-less, with welders and other crafts, the BE 1050 survived and went on to easier stripping grounds and continued for several years to be an asset to Peabody Coal Company.

The 1260 Dragline being built at Ken.

Photo by Ray McClain.

The BE 1260 Dragline was built at Ken Mine, but it was never placed in operation at Ken Mine. Soon after it was completed, it was loaded on two barges and sent downriver to River Queen Mine. I don't know if the original intent was to use the dragline at Ken or it was just easier to build it at Ken Mine and ship it downriver. The BE 1260, with a 36 yd. bucket worked the River Queen Mine for several years and then was moved to Vogue Mine. After Vogue was finished,the BE 1260 was moved back to River Queen. It was never dismantled during any of the moves, but floated on river and walked from mine to mine. It still sits idle today, and should be scrapped sometime soon.

Peabody's 1260 Dragline being shipped downriver.

Photo by Ray McClain.

This view of the 1260 Dragline shows the relationship in the size of the dragline as compared to the size of Green River. Note the larger tug is doing most of the job of moving the two barges while the smaller tug at the front end helps make some of the short turns on the river.

The 1260 Dragline passing under the Rockport Bridge.

Photo furnished by Frank McClain.

A Bucyrus-Monagham 5W Walking Dragline.

A 5W Dragline

It appears that the "Stripper", whether a Dragline or a Shovel, is the only piece of equipment at a Strip Mine. Guess it may be like the "Star Basketball" player. The "Star" gets all of the attention and the publicity, but without the other players, including those on the bench, the "Star" would be useless. A large dragline or shovel is essential in any strip mine operation, but without the "Dozers", smaller draglines, loaders, drills, and other mechanical equipment, the stripper would be useless in a short period of time. One such piece of auxiliary equipment is pictured above. The small dragline is a Bucyrus-Monagham 5W dragline. To my knowledge, the 5W Dragline never operated at Ken, but an older and smaller version did and Jimmy Blair spent a lot of his mining career operating a BM 3W Dragline.

Somewhere in the 1948 time frame, Jimmy Blair moved to Rockport with his family and soon fit in with the Rockport citizens. His wife and daughter were welcomed to the community. Shirley Blair started to school at Rockport in the seventh grade and graduated in 1953.

Jimmy Blair was the primary operator of the BM 3W dragline. He would walk that old dragline all over Ken Mine property. His jobs including building roads, dikes, drainage ditches, dams and anything else that he could place that dragline bucket into. One major job was to build the "Slurry Pit". When Ken Mine Rail Tipple started washing the coal, there was a need for a place for the gob and other debris. This place was a large slurry pit that was located in back of the tipple. Jimmy spent a lot of time building a dam and dredging out a place for the waste that was left from the coal processing. The design people, if such were used, and Jimmy, did a fine job, as this pit became a good fishing spot. It was large enough that it took years to fill and in the meantime the good water on the back end was clean enough to support life and especially fish. I have caught five pound bass out of this slurry pit. On the other side of the dam, was a ditch that drained a large area which started on one side of Happy Hollow and passed the old garbage dump in the area from the bottom of Chinn Hill to Harvey Robinson Grocery. Jimmy dredged this ditch and made a decent pit to fish. We always called it the "3W" pit from the name of the machine that dug it. It could just as easily been called the "Blair" pit.

Marion 8800 Dragline.
Photo taken by David Hope's father. Thanks Mr. Hope.
Marion 8800 Dragline

The Marion 8800 Dragline was constructed at Peabody's Homestead Mine in 1963 and operated there until Homestead Mine was closed. It originally had a 85-yd. bucket when built. Several years after it began stripping, there was a boom failure, and decision time was at hand. Did the mine want to repair the machine, as such, or did they want to make modifications? The decision was to strengthened the boom and to re-fit it with a larger bucket. The boom was shortened and a 100 yard bucket was installed. The M 8800 was placed back in service.

After a service period of about twenty-five years at Homestead Mines, the M 8800 was running out of places to strip. There always seem to be some confusion as to where Ken Mine ended and where Homestead Mine started or vice-versa. The decision was made to close Homestead and to keep Ken open for a few more years. The M 8800 was walked to Ken Mine and was able to strip for a few more years. When Ken Mine closed, this beautiful old machine was scrapped. Such is the eventual life of any big stripper. Most are just too large for a museum, thus they are either buried or cut up for scrap metal.

Since Ken Mine started in the mid-forties, machines and people have worked, around the clock, at the mine. For over a fifty year period, miners have removed the coal from the Ken Mine area. That is some time frame. In Ken Mine Page 1, I mentioned a few people that worked for Ken and in Ken Mine Page 2, I have mentioned a few more people and some of the machines that were used in that fifty plus years time frame. These two pages are in no way meant to be a summary of Ken Mine history. I will leave that to the person that wants to work at the project. Researching, interviewing, and other facts and information gathering procedures are just not my cup of tea. A large book could be written, just on the "Strippers" that have been used at Ken Mine. I have mentioned a few. I have left a few out. When I was at Ken, in 1962, the BE 1050 was operational and there was another stripping dragline in another pit and I can not recall the name of that machine. I worked on it and can remember it, but can not put a name to it. I would think that there were other strippers. There were two pits operational at this time and to cover these two pits,there were loaders, drills, other earth movers like dozers, trucks of all types, and various other pieces of equipment. The working crew needed water to drink and in that time frame, Cecil Curtis had the responsibility of supplying the entire mine with ice and water and he had a special water truck. Another special water truck had a large water reservoir with a pipe on the rear that contained many nozzles. It was used to "Wet Down" the haul roads when the dust became thick enough to limit visibility. Anyone that ever visited the mining area, on a regular basis, whether to fish, hunt or just look made contact with this water truck. After it made a pass, the haul road would be muddy, but the dust would be settled. If your vehicle was relatively clean to start with, it was not after traveling over a muddy haul road. Other special trucks like a "Cable Reel" truck were used. If there was a need for a special rig, the miners would make the device if it could not be purchased.

There is also a long list of miners that worked at the mine. Just about every craft of workers were represented at the mine. There was even a blacksmith. Some of the miners worked only a year or so and left for other endeavors. A few like Billy Welborn spent their entire working career at Ken Mine and retired. I wish I had the time and space to mention all of the miners that worked the mine, including the non-union or the "Company Employees", but I don't. What estimate would a person make, as to the total number of people that worked, at one time or another, at Ken Mine? Would that range be in the area of a thousand. Counting Ken Underground, there may have been 500 miners working at the peak of employment. Heck, I would raise that guess of a thousand to a few hundred more. Nothing official here. It has been said that Ken Mine should have been called Kin Mine due to the number of miners that were kin to each other, but with a thousand or more miners in a small county, there had to be a lot of relatives working together. Gary Durham has made up list of just a "Father-Son, Daughter" list and there are 52 fathers and one or more of their children on that list and guess, still counting.

All miners were special and I wish that I could have mentioned each Ken Miner, but this web page is just not set up to do such. Hope you can enjoy what you have seen and not be disappointed in what was not mentioned. As always, if you find errors or information that is just not correct, please feel free to let me know. Thanks for looking.

See you......

See you..........