Granville man collects quarry machinery

GRANVILLEHeavy lifting is nothing new to John Shaw, a native of Granville, N.Y., who grew up on a dairy farm with a logging operation and later started his own family company, Wing Truck and Trailer, that builds haulers for the logging and slate industries. Shaw was the right person for the job-to collect literally tons of machinery from the quarries, haul them to his heated garage, and over the winter prepare them for exhibition and install them in the Slate Valley Museum's upcoming exhibit. In January, Shaw and his crew and the museum staff will learn about conservation of machinery from Clara Deck, the Senior Conservator of big machines at the famed Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. Deck will conduct a conservation assessment of the eight machines planned for the exhibit that represent the pivotal changes in heavy lifting technology from 1850 to the present. She will give a hands-on workshop in the cleaning and conservation of non-operating machines for indoor exhibition. Members of the slate industry have generously volunteered their time to inform the exhibit by meeting with museum staff and assisting them in identifying and locating machinery. The museum recognized Ray Cull, Matt Hicks, Mike Labas, Paul Labas, John Maslack, Larry Ritchie, and Dick Rupe for their expertise. Among the machines donated for the exhibit is a narrow gage rail cart given by Mike Labas Slate Company. It was used for moving slate to the shanty after excavation by a boom derrick, the earliest heavy lifting technology used by local quarries when the industry started in the 1850s. Other machines to be exhibited are a carriage and billy wheel used from the 1890s to the 1950s from Vermont Structural Slate; a World War II-armed forces surplus forklift from John Maslack Slate Company; and, a 1950s dump truck and cable excavator boom with shovel used through 1965 from Sheldon Slate Products Company. Modern technology will be represented by still photographs and video clips, courtesy photographer and Evergreen Slate Company employee Dennis Schneider, who volunteered his time to capture today's industrial technology on camera. The human story of heavy lifting will be represented in the exhibit through clips of oral histories, quarry and mill sounds, and still photographs of quarry workers from the museum's extensive collection. Educator Garrett Riggs is developing the storyboard for a wall-size multi-media presentation that will be an integral part of the heavy lifting exhibit experience. Riggs is developing demonstrations and school group programs that interpret the technological evolution of heavy lifting in the slate industry. The museum is also fortunate to have heavy lifters of a different sort who have volunteered their time to contribute their expertise to the exhibit. Craig Gilborn, former Director of the Adirondack Museum at Blue Mountain Lake for 20 years, is advising the museum staff from a curatorial standpoint and is credited with identifying the heavy lifting theme. Joe Sonderman, who recently retired from his own national design firm in Raleigh, N.C., is volunteering his time to design the new exhibit and the reconfiguration of the existing galleries, reception area, and gift shop.

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