Silhouette of Big Muskie against a sunset
Something BIG In Southeast Ohio and she's in big trouble
by Blake Malkamaki

A sad day for thousands of people worldwide who had worked for months and raised many thousands of dollars to preserve this giant piece of history and promising tourist attraction...

Although a scrapping contract had been awarded and internal scrapping had been progressing for months, negotiations have also been underway with AEP to preserve the Big Muskie. In the midst of negotiations, all hope suddenly ended however on May 20, 1999 when the contractor Mayer-Pollock Steel Corporation made their decision to use high explosives to cut the 5 inch cables holding Big Muskie's mighty boom up. The boom crashed to the ground in a twisted mess, completely eliminating any hope of preservation.

We know that Big Muskie's preservation efforts will not be in vain as it has brought many many concerned people together for a very positive endeavor. This effort should now be directed toward the preservation of other remaining giants on our land.

Thank You
to all those who have donated their time, money, or efforts toward the preservation of the Big Muskie.

Here is the original text of this site before the destruction occured...

"She" dwells in the coal-rich hills of southeast Ohio, near the small town of Cumberland. She is a big girl. Her name is Big Muskie and she is the biggest machine that has ever walked on the face of the earth. The Big Muskie is a giant electric-powered Bucyrus-Erie dragline owned by the Central Ohio Coal Company, a division of American Electric Power.

Taking three years to build, she started her career in 1969 removing overburden from coal formations. The coal would then be ripped up by dozers and loaded into giant haul trucks for transport, eventually to AEP's huge power plant at Relief, Ohio. In 1991, due to a depression in the demand for high-sulfur Ohio coal, she was parked until her need would arise once again.

Now a legislative work called the Surface Mining Reclamation Act threatens her presence. The bill calls for all highwall strip mines to be reclaimed, and all machines to be removed from the premises of the abandoned mine. Now the surrounding land has either been reclaimed, or is currently in the process of being reclaimed. Still AEP is threatening to start cutting Big Muskie up very soon-perhaps in the next couple of weeks. Efforts have been made to save her, but her demise seems imminent unless an acceptable plan can be devised soon. Moving her is about impossible. Currently leading the effort to save her is the local organization Byesville Community Development Corporation which is accepting tax-deductible pledges and donations.

Preservation of this giant as a museum and tourist attraction will draw well over 100,000 people a year to the southeast Ohio area. Together with its neighbor, a wild animal park, called The Wilds, the Big Muskie will lend a major contribution to the economic development of the region. The more people who know about this piece of history, the more likely a solution will be found to preserving the giant. Please follow the links below to see how you can help.

The Big Muskie is a model 4250-W Bucyrus-Erie dragline (the only one ever built). With a 220 cubic yard bucket, she is the largest single-bucket digging machine ever created. Here are some of her specifications:

  • Weight: 27 million lbs., or 13,500 tons
  • Bucket Capacity: 220 cubic yards, 325 tons (12 car garage)
  • Height: 222 ft., 6 in.
  • Length of the boom: 310 feet
  • Length of machine with boom down: 487 ft., 6 in.
  • Empty bucket weight: 230 tons
  • Width: 151 ft., 6 in., compare to an 8 lane highway!
  • Cable diameter: 5 in
  • Electrically powered: 13,800 volts
  • Mobility: hydraulically driven walking feet

In her working lifetime, the Big Muskie removed over 608,000,000 cubic yards of overburden (twice the earth moved during the construction of the Panama Canal), uncovering over 20,000,000 tons of clean coal. She cost $25 million in 1969.


Picture of Big Muskie


Be sure to see the Big Muskie Picture Page

Other Big Muskie Links - now including links to other giant draglines and shovels

Links to Government Officials and News Media

Big Muskie's bucket being moved to a final memorial site near McConnelsville, Ohio.

Pioneer Steam & Gas Engine Society of NW Pennsylvania site

© 1999-2015 Blake Malkamaki

Sites by Blake Malkamaki

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