National Construction Equipment Museum and HCEA Archives
The HCEA operates a museum and archives for the preservation of the history of the construction, dredging and surface mining equipment industries. Historically significant machines are restored, exhibited and interpreted for the education and enjoyment of the general public. Sales and service literature, photographs, and other documentation of these industries are preserved and made available for research. It is the only museum and archives of its kind in the world!
Digital ArchivesUse our online Archives Finding Aids to get started. Online Archives
Why are a museum and archives needed?
At the end of its useful life, construction equipment is typically scrapped, broken down for parts, or simply abandoned to the elements. Outdated literature, films, photographs and other equipment records of manufacturers, dealers and owners are normally discarded or held privately so as to not be available to researchers or the general public.
Although there are many collections of construction, dredging and surface mining equipment and of archival records for these industries, these collections tend to be fragmented, incomplete and specialized on certain makes or types of machines, and public access is often limited.
Many public entities such as local historical societies and archives have collections that encompass construction, dredging and mining machinery and its history. But although their collections are as a rule open for public use and viewing, they usually focus solely on subjects of local interest.
While the numerous private collections are often quite broad in what they encompass, they tend to focus only on what is of interest to the collectors themselves. Further, private collections are usually, at best, accessible only under restricted conditions owing to location and the collectors’ obligations of career, family and so forth.
Until now, there has never been a central museum and archives that reaches and surpasses the scope of the private collections by encompassing the histories of the construction, surface mining and dredging industries and their associated history as a whole while making that history accessible for public viewing and education on a par with the access offered by historical societies and local museums and archives. The HCEA is honored to fulfill that need.
The National Construction Equipment Museum
In 1992, the HCEA rented a parcel of land near Bowling Green, Ohio for use as an equipment museum. Later designated the National Construction Equipment Museum, this facility was established to obtain, preserve and display for public viewing machines, exhibits and artifacts that represent the development and history of construction machinery from the 1800s to the present day. Its collection includes over fifty machines, dating from the early 1900s through the mid-1960s. Click
The Museum is divided into an indoor exhibit hall for restored machines and a fully-equipped restoration shop, in which volunteers restore machines in the museum’s collection to operating condition and original appearance. The volunteers, who come from all walks of life and share a common passion for dirt, grease, hard work and old iron, meet on Wednesday evenings and one Sunday a month; if you’re interested in participating in a work day or evening, contact Thomas Berry at the HCEA offices for a schedule.
Map to MuseumDownload a map to the Museum
Visiting the Museum
The Museum is open to the public between 1:00 and 5:00 PM weekdays. We recommend that you call us at 419-352-5616 to let us know you’re coming. Admission is $5.00 per person, but donations are welcome; all proceeds go to our Building Fund. The tour takes 30 to 45 minutes. The building is insulated but does not have climate control, so dress appropriately in event of temperature extremes.
Donating to the Museum
If you are interested in donating equipment to the Museum, please mail us a description of the machine (model, serial number, location, operating and physical condition, timeframe for removal from the premises, etc.) and photos of it to our Museum Screening Committee. The Committee members will review the proposal and make a recommendation to our Board of Directors on accepting it. Please note that we usually cannot provide transportation, unless the machine is fairly small and close to our facility.
The HCEA Archives
The HCEA is honored to be the only organization designated by the Associated Equipment Manufacturers, the leading construction equipment industry trade association, as an official archive for the construction equipment industry. The HCEA Archives provides a service to manufacturers, users, historians and collectors of construction, dredging and surface mining equipment and to the general public by preserving, indexing and cataloging, and making available for public research from a central location a comprehensive collection of archival materials for all three industries.
Like the Museum, the Archives exists for the sake of public education. Its role is to both preserve the records that document the history of the construction, dredging and surface mining equipment industries and to make those records available for public research.
Typical researchers include owners and operators who still use older machinery in their daily business; authors of books and of trade journal and newspaper articles; producers of television programs; and personal uses such as restoration of antique machinery, the design and building of scale models, school projects and family history. We have been honored to serve researchers from throughout the United States and Canada and as far away as Japan, Spain, Italy, Argentina and Australia.
The Archives’ collections are stored in a climate-controlled 2,200 square foot building on the Museum grounds. The building also houses the HCEA’s offices, and will be expanded in the future to meet the need for additional space for the Archives’ collections.
The Archives is staffed by a full-time archivist was hired. The archivist, Thomas Berry, brings a lifetime of study of the heavy construction equipment industry to his position.
The Archives Collections
The Archives originated at the HCEA’s inception, and within a few years had grown to include records from over 500 manufacturers. By January 2009, over 2,600 manufacturers of machinery, attachments, engines and other components, and truck and trailer equipment were represented in the collections. The collections also encompass records from contractors, mining firms, dealers, auctioneers, government agencies and non-profit organizations related to our fields of interest, as well as personal papers and photographs from a number of individuals.
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. The collections include approximately:
- 110 lineal feet of sales literature, including catalogs, brochures and spec sheets;
- 350 lineal feet of service literature, such as manuals and parts books;
- 140,000 photographs and digital images;
- 130,000 slides;
- 700 videos;
- 700 motion pictures;
- 140 lineal feet of periodicals; and,
- 55 lineal feet of annual reports and related business records.
The Marion Power Shovel Company collection, which consists of the records of the Company’s marketing and engineering departments, includes:
- Approximately 10,000 8×10 inch photographs dating from the 1880s through 1980s;
- A nearly complete set of sales literature from the 1890s through end of production;
- 400 glass plate negatives, dated from the 1880s through 1910s; and,
- Shipping records of all machines built from 1914 through end of production.
We also have extensive collections of blueprints and engineering drawings of dredges and cranes from the early 1900s from the former Dunbar & Sullivan Dredging Company and Victor R. Browning Company (later the Browning Engineering Company).
Using the Archives
The Archives’ collections are available for research on site weekday mornings by appointment. If a visit cannot arranged, you can also research a portion of our collections online by clicking the Online Archives link. We also provide photocopying, scanning and research services for a fee. Contact Archivist Thomas Berry if we can assist you with your project.
Donating to the Archives
The Archives continues to solicit collections of sales and service literature, photographs and similar records. If you are interested in donating to the HCEA Archives, please contact archivist Thomas Berry.
What we are doing next:
Although our building is complete, we are continuing to raise funds towards a future expansion of the Office and Archives Building.