By Karen Blackledge
The Danville News
DERRY TWP. — A father and son team was able to build a replica of a Civil War-era cannon in time for the Iron Heritage Festival Parade.
Greg Molter and his father, John “Jack” Molter, started work on the piece, built mostly from recycled materials, in April and finished it a week before the parade in July.
They transported it and a four-wheeler on a trailer to Danville where the elder Molter drove the four-wheeler that pulled the cannon. Greg Molter walked alongside the cannon.
“When we came to Mill Street and stopped facing the river, I touched it off. There was nobody behind us,” Greg said of firing the cannon. That consisted of him lighting a firecracker for the noise effect. Wearing boots and jeans, he also carried an 1864 Civil War rifle.
Greg got the idea to build the cannon after noticing his dad’s American flag pole at his house “looked lonely.”
“I always wanted a cannon — I thought it would be cool,” Greg said.
So he searched cannons online and drew some plans of his own. He made a model in wood with a large screw for the barrel.
They crafted a breach-load cannon which opens in the back, Greg puts a firecracker in the barrel, seals it and lights the fuse. “We had fired it a few times before and a couple of times since,” he said. The cannon sits in his front yard.
“There have been a few people stop in and look at it,” he said.
For the barrel, they used a seven-foot-long piece of steel that had been lying around Greg’s farm. The steel wheels came from a fellow who had a piece of farm equipment that had broken down.
They bought a piece of steel for the axle and a piece of wood they cut for the tongue and cross-member.
The father-son team had to do some welding so the barrel would swivel up and down.
The tongue of the cannon is seven feet long. The cannon, which can be moved around by hand, spans four feet from wheel-to-wheel.
“Just a little imagination — I’m just a big kid with a new toy,” Greg said.
They built the cannon at Greg’s place, which borders his dad’s property.
The two also raise some beef cattle together.
“We work together and play together. It’s great still to be able to do that,” Greg said.
Will they corroborate on another project?
“When the spirit moves us,” Jack said.
Greg expects the cannon to eventually end up at Jack’s house next to the flag pole.
The father and son also serve Derry Township residents. Greg is chairman of the township supervisors and his dad is vice chairman of the supervisors. Greg has been a supervisor 14 years and has been chairman 10 years.
Jack has been a supervisor six years and also is acting roadmaster.
The Montour County planning commission director and human services director, Greg is also Rev. Molter. His congregation is St. Paul’s Emmanuel United Methodist Church in Danville.
He is also director of District 13A1 of Little League Challenger Baseball.
Jack, who is retired from Merck Cherokee, had been active in the Danville Masonic Lodge for 43 years and is a past master of the lodge.