Thursday, January 18, 2018

Mining Draglines and Shovels

I've been accumulating "neat stuff" as I come across it. I would like to organize it by Marion vs. Busyrus-Erie and either by size or by coal mine. But learning and organizing this topic is just too big for me to tackle. (For example, it would take a lot of work just to determine where the named mines are located.) So I'm going to go ahead and post this raw information and continue to add to it. I've also noticed that some of the links have become broke. Bummer! Do I leave a broken link in as a clue to what might be available in a different form, or do I remove them? For now, I've left them. Like I said, "raw information." You should probably consider this post a reference post.

I almost made the title "Coal Mining." But then I remembered that many of the draglines that are still in use are in Florida mining phosphate. Because of the shallow water table, draglines are the preferred solution. (Update: federal regulators are allowing a phosphate mine to expand their operations.)

Comments concerning the choice between shovel and dragline.

Facebook page:

Video of Marion 7820, the world's largest. It includes walking. It has some big shovels as well.

Evansville history:,

where Dave got Pulse April 2002: And note*/*

Big Muskie (and the captain):
Troy Bratcher posted: in action video 5:00,  three photos (photo of pulling out the tub with six earth movers in a comment),  video of inside the house (William Law If I remember right ten swing motors, ten drag motors and eight hoist motors, 1,200 hp each., Jay Wilson Six inch floor under the drag drum, was wrinkled from the power. Stout machine.)

dragline in background and coal shovel in foreground: (walking), (shows "rows" of dirt)

BE 1250-B:
BE 2570-W:,
  Bear Run mine:
BE 3850-B, Sinclair Surface Mine:
Marion 8950, AMAX's Ayrshire Mine:

reviving draglines:

walking 13million pounds for 18 miles:
screwed pensions:

Bucyrus Erie 3850B stripping shovel video that describe its design and construction for Peabody coal.

The Bucyrus Erie 3850-B Power Shovel named "Big Hog" went to work next door to Paradise Fossil Plant for Peabody Coal Company's ( Peabody Energy ) Sinclair Surface Mine in 1962. When it started work it was received with grand fanfare and was the Largest Shovel in The World with a bucket size of 115 cubic yards. After it finished work in the mid 1980's, it was buried in a pit on the mine's property. It remains there still today.

James Stine posted
Here in this photo from a private collection, the mighty 3850-B at Peabody's River King Mine. This photo would have been taken close to Lenzburg, Illinois in late 1964, early 1965 as the machine is very fresh. The big shovel, the second largest ever built, carried a 140 yd. dipper on a 200 ft. boom. She gave steady service from 1964-1993. The shovel was parked just north of Marissa, Illinois when she finished.
Dan Austin Are Sinclair’s, and River Kings machines identical? What difference do they have to identify them from pictures? I’ve heard a few fan shrouds are different.Michael Davis Fan shrouds are different, the font on the lettering is different, and the paint schemes are ever so slightly different.William Oldani Booms and Buckets are Different! Sinclair’s was 210’ Boom with 115 Yard Bucket!

Screenshot from a video

Some year I'm going to do a post on draglines. In the meantime, I'll note a video of a dragline being hauled from one mine to another that was 20 miles away at 2 mph.

John W. Coke -> Rail & Highway Heavy Loads
Indiana Rail Road transporting dragline coal buckets from the Blackhawk mine to the Bear Run mine.
John W. Coke posted
Dragline bucket
Thomas J. McAllister I used to go by the factory in Erie as a boy. My dad would always slow down so we could see the cranes and shovels in the yard.
Mammoet moved Peabody's 3,500 ton dragline 22 miles in 12 days instead of 30 days to "walk" it.
Benton Kelly posted
1570 dumping onto apron feeders to load trucks at Drummond Ltd El Descanso mine in Colombia.
[The comments discuss the mast and gantry (A-frame) on top of the house. I've never seen apron feeders. I wonder if they are used when the size of the bucket is bigger than the bed of the truck.]
John Burtscher posted the question of scale comparisons.
William Oldani commented on John's posting
James Joe Dewar commented on John's posting
William Oldani posted
For those interested, below is the “Conceptual” 500 Yard Dragline compared to the Two Largest Excavators Produced by Marion & BE!
Nick Anderson I'd move back for it. The older buildings would probably rent or purchase for less than you would expect because nobody has wanted them for 20 years. The more modern ones are taken but I'd bet a sharing arrangement could be worked out with the tenants that can't possibly need the crane capacity available!
Dennis DeBruler Nick Anderson Is it the site south of Center Street and east of Davids Street?
Nick Anderson Yes, that's it
[Note that the one in the middle was a conceptual design that was never built. Since Nick confirmed the location, I did write about that plant.]

James Stine posted
Shown here in a part of the Marion Product line from 1970, the available models of stripping shovels available/produced by Marion Power Shovel. It is one of the first pieces of literature I was sent from Marion. The year may have been 1972.

Kerst De Jong shared
Jay Wilson One of Cooney Bros. 6400
Jay Wilson 13 put together, Cooney bought 64014 as a parts machine from the factory.
Jay Wilson Friction on the drag and hoist, electric boom hoist and swing motors. Hydraulic travel.
Eric S Manners 1 and 2 were hydraulic swing. Didn't pan out.
Eric S Manners This is the only one with Westinghouse electric components. All the rest were GE.
Frank Keeney It's a beast for sure. What size is the bucket?
Eric S Manners 12 yard I believe
Jay Wilson When it was real dusty and in a bad thunderstorm, 6408 would trip a ground fault breaker and bring you to a screeching halt. Was a build up of static electricity. Wait out the storm, then go back to work. Jim Breenan said it was the only one of Cooney's machines tohave that.
Jay Wilson We backed off the brakes on top of the swing motors so it wasn't such an abrupt stop.
Eric S Manners I'm sure. Probably hard on the swings and boom and whatnot.
Jay Wilson Get one swinging at top speed with a full bucket, then kick out the exciter. You will see what I mean.
Jay Wilson Bucket way out, try to get it down without damage, was a blast.
Josh Holt Does it cause boom damage, it's gotta torque the crap out if it when it happens.
Jay Wilson Never saw any damage, guess we helped out by knowing what to try to do.
[I made one comment bold because I thought it was particularly interesting.]
Scott Rhamey posted
Does anybody have any information on the Joy Push Button Miner? I was thinking that it was launched at Sunnyhill mine in Ohio but this says SIMCO on the banner???
[A portable, helical conveyor belt?]
James Stine posted four images with the comment: "Per request, from the January 1964 Coal Mining & Processing Magazine, Joy's push-button miner." I include small images because even the largest you would have to click to read the text.




I recognized the SIMCO name from the Push Button Mining comments.
James Stine posted
Shown here, I believe from the Peabody magazine, the SIMCO 5760 preparing to cross an unknown road. This shovel was the second 5760 Peabody Coal purchased at the same time they purchased "Big Paul". She carried a 70 yd dipper on a 140 ft. boom. How many times this machine was deadheaded, we don't know yet. The SIMCO Mine was located near Coshocton, Ohio. It worked from 1957-1991.
Wally Brackmann That was a Marion machine.Mark Hanna State route 83.Aaron Sampsel Yes definitely 83 looking south standing on the bridge at willscreek. Later the coal belt was built going over the road in about the same spot. Coal belt ran from right outside of Otsego to the conesville power plant.
Aaron Sampsel
Note it is on the left side of the photo coming down the hill to the dirt crossing that has been built to protect the paving.]
James Stine posted
In this photo from an advertisement in the Coal Age Magazine, the 3850-B at Sinclair Mine shortly after going to work. The shovel began moving 115 yd. bites at Peabody Coal's Sinclair Mine in late 1962 and was the largest in the world at the time. The Mine was located east of Drakesboro, KY. and fed coal to the Paradise Power Plant. This is a great shot of this machine as the operator can be seen in relation to the overall size of the machine. Nice shot indeed.
James Stine posted
In early 1964, Peabody Coal barged a 5560 shovel from their Key Mine located about 5 miles east of Rushville, Illinois to a new mine site in Alabama. I am guessing that it was the Tiger Mine located near Oakman, Alabama. The trip totaled some 1200 miles and required two barges, one for the shovel and the other for the crawlers and dipper stick. Total weight of the load was around 1600 ton. This photo shows the machine passing the loading facilities of Peabody Coal at St. Louis, Missouri. As to how long the move took, I am not sure at this time. Photo courtesy of Coal Age.
8 years ago today. Bringing a motor out the back of the 2550 at bear run. On its way to GE in Evansville Indiana.
[This raises the issue of where and what type of facility did GE have in Evansville.]
David Thompson posted nine photos with the comment: "Ensham Coal mine flooded and dragline went under."
[The levee of a river that ran close to the mine broke during a flood.]








According to the comments, this happened about 10 years ago and they did rebuild the dragline:
Barry Dahm commented on the posting
This the rebuilt machine the day myself and two crewmen walked it off the rebuild pad.

Bucyrus-Erie 300-D crawler-mounted dragline

This video features a Bucyrus-Erie 155-B, a 9 cu. yd. shovel. Introduced in 1975, this shovel replaced the 150-B shovel. Watch the machine in action at a quarry.

Big machines are also used to handle stockpiles of coal in storage lots. John W. Coke posted two photos with the comment: "Nickel Brothers. Any ideas what this is?"



Jeremy Sno commented on John's posting
Stacker reclaimer unit fully assembled
Barry Thornberry posted 20 photos with the comment: "Marion 5760."
Michael Davis These photos are from Dave Hopper's collection on




















Brandon Willis shared
Marion Power Shovel Co., The Mountaineer, built '55-'56. 16 stories tall. This started the super-shovel era. Its shovel could handle a 100-ton payload.
Jon Timothy Wilkins The Marion Power Shovel Company went on to build NASA's 2 crawlers that took every Saturn V Apollo Rocket and every Space Shuttle to their launch pads....they will be used in the new SLS rocket series that will return to the Moon and then on to Mars.
Mark Flood commented on Brandon's share
[This photo provides scale for the size of the bucket and tracks.]
Dave Majlinger shared a Sportkhana link
[I didn't know that cable
shovels were still made. I couldn't find any capacity info.]
Barry Thornberry posted
[The old and the older. Big Brutus "The world's biggest electric shovel." I didn't even know there was strip mining in Kansas.]

(new window)

Cat 994K
To put these shovels in perspective, Cat's largest wheeled loader, 994K, has bucket capacities from 25-32 cubic yards. The capacity of The Mountaineer's bucket was 60 cubic yards. [pinterest] I'm sure a wheeled loader, in conjunction with several mining trucks, can cycle a bucket load more than twice as fast as The Mountaineer could. And if one breaks, you can use a different loader while the broken one gets fixed so that mine production is not stopped.

Drone video of a 752 digging limestone in Florida. They don't even pretend to pump the water out of the quarries. Lots of comments about loosing shovels in sinkholes.

Phil Croft asked about the shovel in a water filled pit.
Dennis DeBruler,-89.../data=!3m1!1e3

Seth Golay posted lots of comments and a video about Big Brutus (BE model 1850B, world's largest electric).

Official Bucyrus Erie 3850B video!   Bucyrus Erie 3850B at Peabody's Sinclair Mine. 

A big shovel is still parked near Central City, KY.

Peabody shovel accident. Was fixed in 90 days. This is the one that was later buried. As usual, no one mentined the model number or where the mine is. It seems the mining nerds don't want to teach others about their interest.

The Captain's Dying Hours

An extensive article on the damage to Southeast Ohio by strip mining and the crossing of I-70 by Tiger (46 cu yd) and Mountaineer (65 cu yd) shovels. The GEM of Egypt (130 cu yd) did not cross because of the bad publicity it had received as a symbol of the evils of strip mining.

Pages from a booklet on the Marion 8800, the world largest dragline.

Andre Tardif shared a video of Bucyrus Erie's Big Brutus, "the largest electrically powered stripping shovel left in existence"

Page Dragline, P&H Shovels are made in the Milwaukee area
John Lovaas Looks like P&H's draglines were built in the Milwaukee as well. I suspect a lot of area businesses had full blueprints for B-E machines. My dad had a full set of prints for a 5270 dragline; he consulted for Warren Fabricating(Ohio) for many years.
Page Engineering started in McCook, IL.    Photos of 732 and 736


  1. Mines are more adversarial, and flat out mean spirited towards preservationists, industrial archaeologists and historians than any other industry I've had an interest in. They are against photography most of the time. I think they fear environmentalists catching them doing something "bad" and posting it. They also fear getting caught in any safety violation inadvertently, and thus incurring litigation and/or fines. Railroads are often hostile to rail fans, too - and often justified because of reckless trespassing to get pictures. Yet some railroads have realized that fans are among their biggest advocates and a political resource not to be casually dismissed. Mining companies should take a lesson there.

  2. Unfounded and biased regulatory action has created a culture of distrust within mining. Unlike the rest of us industry that are regulated by OSHA mines are regulated by MSHA which has far greater authority and does not operate cooperatively like OSHA does. It has created an “us vs them” mentality and a culture of fear of enforcement. Compound the above with the specific regulatory targeting of coal which has occurred under some administrations and you have a recipe for distrust and fear.