Big Muskie and The Captain

The largest walking dragline and largest mining shovel, respectively, ever built.

Continuing my fascination with the extreme tech that we built in the 1960s… The 1950s and 1960s were the era of “bigger is better,” so we built some big machines.

First up, The Captain: The Captain was the Largest Single Mining Shovel Ever Made, and also some data below is from the Wiki. Officially it was known as the Marion 6360, though I’m not sure anyone called it that.

Built by the Marion Steam Shovel Company in 1965, the Captain was purchased by the Southwestern Illinois Coal Corporation for the purpose of removing over burden at it’s Captain Mine located near Percy, Illinois.

Illinois has a lot of coal in its history. Carbondale is the name of the town that hosts Southern Illinois University. Other towns include Coal City, Coal Valley, Glen Carbon, Carbon Cliff, and probably others I don’t know about.

Some facts… Again, since coal was used to generate electricity, it shouldn’t be a surprise that The Captain was electric, not diesel.

  • bucket held 180 cubic yards
  • had 36 electric motors onboard each of which generated between 200 and 400 horsepower.
  • boom was 215 feet long
  • the dipper handle was 133 feet long

The video below covers the Captain, as well as Big Muskie, and it isn’t long.

Second in our list for today is The Story of “Big Muskie”, and also some stats from the Wiki. Big Muskie was the largest walking dragline excavator ever built.

You should watch the video just to learn about walking draglines. That is a strange bit of tech, that is pretty cool.

In 1976, “Big Muskie” removed 8,000 yards of overburden for the coal company per operating hour.

I love the statistics.

  • Started operations in Ohio in 1969
  • Bucket Capacity: 220 cubic yards (170 m3), 325 short tons (295 t)
  • Height: 222 feet 6 inches (67.82 m)
  • Boom length: 310 feet (94 m)
  • Electrical power: 13,800 volts

A link to the video is provided, in case YT decides to complain about privacy settings in your browser. (While things have been working under Windows, YT hasn’t been cooperating with Android very well.)

The bucket from Big Muskie is the centerpiece of a park in McConnelsville, Ohio. It is roughly 3 hours from where I am, so I’m not sure I will ever drive over there just to see it. But it doesn’t look hard to find.