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Historical Construction Equipment Association

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The Historical Construction Equipment Association (HCEA), a non-profit 501(c)3 corporation, was established in 1986 to preserve for public education the history of construction, surface mining, and dredging equipment, as well as the history of its manufacturers and users. As of June 2009 it has approximately 4,400 members in the United States and 25 other nations. It is funded primarily by membership dues and the sale of merchandise. Membership is open to anyone who shares its goal, whether or not he or she is involved with the industries or collects the equipment whose history the HCEA preserves.

The HCEA operates the National Construction Equipment Museum and Archives at its headquarters in Bowling Green, Ohio. The Museum and Archives encompass all aspects of the history of the construction, dredging, and surface mining equipment industries; it has been designated by Associated Equipment Manufacturers (AEM), the construction equipment industry’s leading trade association, as an official archivist for the industry, and it hosts visitors and serves researchers from around the world.

The museum houses over 50 machines dating from 1900 to the early 1960s, and many of them are restored to original physical and operating condition by the efforts of its volunteers. The archives contain extensive collections of sales literature, repair manuals, photographs, videos, business records, and other documentation of these industries; it encompasses over 2,600 manufacturers from the 1870s through the present day, and its holdings are being cataloged online at http://archives.hcea.net/. Photocopies and scans of material from its collections are available for a nominal fee.

The HCEA holds an annual International Conventions and Old Equipment Exposition at various locations in the United States and Canada. Equipment enthusiasts and the general public alike attend, and witness live demonstrations of antique construction machinery. It publishes a 36-page slick-paper quarterly magazine, Equipment Echoes, for its members, and each issue contains historical, educational, and technical articles and photographs. It also publishes an annual calendar featuring 12 photographs of heavy machinery at work from the late 1800s through the early 1960s.

One of the HCEA’s less tangible but critically important accomplishments is raising awareness, both in the industries whose history it preserves and among the general public, of the historic and educational value of antique construction, dredging, and surface mining equipment and the records that document them. As that awareness grows, equipment and archival records that were formerly destroyed are now being preserved and appreciated.

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