Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

March 25, 2012

Mining nostalgia

Memorabilia collectors descend on Carter Caves

CARTER CAVES STATE RESORT PARK — Carbide lamps, “turtle shell” caps, metal lunch pales and union buttons were among the hundreds of items for sale and on display Saturday at the  Eastern Mining Collectors Association spring meeting at Carter Caves State Resort Park in Olive Hill.

The event drew dozens of collectors, enthusiasts, as well as the nostalgic and curious, from as close as Olive Hill and as far away as Anchorage, Ak. Organizers say the first-ever eastern Kentucky event was a success and are already planning to repeat it in April next year. If it becomes an annual tradition, it will be one of only two such shows in the eastern United States, according to its organizers.

EMCA member and event organizer Colin Gatland said the group was “excited” by the turnout and reception from the local community as well as collectors themselves. “We have folks here that are retired miners and mining families,” he said, adding “It’s a pretty good turn out. The caliber of collectors we have here are top tier collectors. Folks here have some of the largest collections anywhere of mining artifacts,” he said. Gatland said part of the groups mission is to preserve the country’s rich mining history through the preservation of its artifacts while educating the public about the role the industry played in the development of the country.

Brothers Mike and Tim Adkins, of Olive Hill, were drawn to the event precisely because of their interest and nostalgia for the area mining industry.

“The really great part of this is we have a connection to all of this,” said Tim Adkins. “We see the miners lunch pails and we connect it to people we knew.  I’m a retired boilermaker and used a lot of this equipment when we were teenagers,” said Tim Adkins.

“Our grandfather worked in the mines, until he was about 65,” said Mike Adkins, adding the other grandfather worked in the timber industry building the support beams for stabilizing ceilings inside underground mines. Looking at a miners cap with a holder for a carbide lamp, he added, “My grandfather had two or three of those.”

The brothers noted how surprised they were at the value of items, many of which they’d seen all their life.

Collector Tony Moon traveled from Albuquerque, N.M., to attend the event, hoping locals would bring in items such as the hats the Adkins’ grandfather owned, that may now be sitting around collecting dust in someone’s garage or basement. “We hope for that,” he said.

“I was hoping to find something I couldn’t resist,” he added, while examining a Davy Lamp built by the Queen of Philadelphia Company. Moon had in fact, already found something he couldn’t resist — a carbide lamp with a name he’d never seen before, which he purchased from another collector the night before. He, like several collectors who traveled long-distances to the show, didn’t bring any of his items to sell. Airline restrictions and the logistics of packing and shipping items long distances are just too much of a hassle but shipping items home, he said, isn’t as big of a deal.

Moon, who works in the cooper mining industry, said he was looking forward to attending the event next year. “Hopefully it will grow and grow and grow,” he said.

Next year, Moon said plans to visit regional coal mining museums and the Beckley, W.Va., exhibition coal mine too while in the area. He noted they don’t open until April 1.  

Park officials said they were pleased with turnout as well. “The end of March, you never know how weekends are going to go at the park and its a great opportunity to offer a special event. A unique event. For the first year — it’s unbelievable,” Ainsley said, noting the parking lot was full before 10 a.m.

“It’s unique and neat and hopefully everybody is happy. The public enjoys it, the vendors are happy. This is what it is all about. State Parks in general are to help boost the economy and tourism,” he noted.”

CARRIE STAMBAUGH can be reached at cstambaugh@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2653.

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