Giving Curator Jessica access to my RoadsideAmerica ap just as we were embarking on a road trip to northern Ohio was dangerous. In addition to our normal stops for stuff like interesting buildings, historical markers, cemeteries and just stuff, she announced that we just HAD to make a side trip to McConnelsville, Ohio, to see Big Muskie’s bucket at the Miners’ Memorial Park.
I agreed to the diversion only if she would agree to be photographed with it to give the huge bucket some scale.
In service for 22 years
The plaque at the memorial made is sound like the big, bad EPA was responsible for shutting down open mining and causing workers to lose their jobs. It sort of glossed over the fact that the 1977 Clean Air Act reduced demand for soft coal and that the power costs made it unprofitable to operate. The 22-story-tall Big Muskie, with its 310-foot boom and 220-cubic yard bucket sucked down as much power as 27,500 homes and cost tens of thousands of dollars an hour for electricity alone.
The public’s growing opposition to strip mining added to the decision to scrap the world’s largest single-bucket digging machine ever made. It was parked in 1991 and scrapped in 1999 when no company wanted it because of the cost of dismantling, transporting and operating it.
John Prine’s Paradise
I had to introduce Jessica to John Prine’s song, Paradise, which contains these words:
Then the coal company came with the world’s largest shovel
And they tortured the timber and stripped all the land.
Well, they dug for their coal till the land was forsaken,
Then they wrote it all down as the progress of man
And, Daddy, won’t you take me back to Muhlenberg County
Down by the green river where paradise lay?”
“Well, I’m sorry my son, but you’re too late in asking.
Mister Peabody’s coal train has hauled it away”
Links to Big Muskie Stats
Bucket photo gallery
Click on any photo to make it larger, then use your arrow keys to move through the gallery. Oh, by the way, the only thing that kept me from having to endure a visit to the Feline Historical Museum was that it was closed on the days we were in the area.