Pittsburgh Company Considering Proposal for Silver Spade

Sat August 26, 2006 - Midwest Edition
Construction Equipment Guide

Representatives from Consol Energy Inc. of Pittsburgh, PA, have said they are willing to consider a proposal from the groups representing Harrison County, OH, to transfer ownership of the Silver Spade, Consol’s giant earth excavating shovel, if a number of issues can be resolved.

The Silver Spade is the largest and last of the giant excavating shovels left in the world.

It’s a Bucyrus B stripping shovel put into the dirt in November 1965 and was retired in April 2007.

With its 200-ft. boom, 105-cu.-yd. bucket — as wide as an eight-lane highway — and weighing 7,000 tons, the Silver Spade towers over the landscape.

It is the only Bucyrus manufactured machine using a Marion Co. “Knee Action” crowd and boom design.

Consol will have to be compensated for the scrap value of the Silver Spade and several state and federal regulatory agencies will need to approve the proposal to make the transfer a reality.

The Silver Spade is located west of New Athens, OH, off State Route 519 in Harrison County.

If the proposal is successful, the shovel will be owned by Harrison County, with the Harrison Coal and Reclamation Historical Park Inc. involved in the daily operations and management of the park.

Only one other shovel of this magnitude has been preserved. “Big Brutus,” a somewhat smaller shovel, has been a successful attraction in West Mineral, KS, for 20 years.

The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) has indicated that the Silver Spade would most likely qualify as an outstanding example of mechanical engineering and could possibly be recognized as an ASME landmark if approved by the History and Heritage Committee. The ASME has nationally recognized more than 230 items, and usually adds six to seven items a year.

The Ohio Historic Preservation office recognized the significance of the Silver Spade within the nation’s coal mining industry as well as an engineering industry icon.

The shovel appears to have a high degree of structural integrity and represents an era when Ohio ranked among the nation’s leading coal producers and was at the forefront of mining technology.

Also indicating support for this project is the Ohio Aggregates and Industrial Minerals Association. The natural resources and mining element could have a long overdue home and a site such as this could forever honor the hard working men and women of mining.

The Northern Ohio Chapter of the Society for Industrial Archeology stated in a letter to the Harrison Coal & Reclamation Historical Park that the Silver Spade represents the pinnacle of late 19th and 20th century engineering achievement.

There also is support from the Ohio Department of Development, Governor’s Office of Appalachia and the Ohio Appalachian Delegation of 21 state Senators and Representatives asking that the Silver Spade be retained in Harrison County.

For more information, call 740/937-2460, or visit www.hcrhp.org.

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