The world's largest shovel was recently completed. Its overall length is almost equal to that of a football field. It is seventy feet wide and weighs nearly seven thousand tons.
A Mammoth stripping shovel, largest mobile land machine ever built and over twice the size of any shovel now in operation, began mining coal for TVA's new steam plant at Paradise, Kentucky, in August, 1962. The giant shovel was built by Bucyrus-Erie Co., Milwaukee, Wise, for the Peabody Coal Company, St. Louis, Mo. Peabody has a seventeen-year contract with TVA to supply coal for the Paradise plant, the world's largest steam plant.
This huge shovel will lower the cost of mining deeply buried coal which otherwise could not be recovered by the strip mining method. Total working weight will be 14 million pounds and more than 12,000-horsepower will be required to operate it. Two-hundred-fifty railroad cars were required to ship the parts to the mine site near Paradise for erection.
Once on the job, the shovel daily will uncover more than twice its own weight in coal. The energy locked in the coal of one day's production can power five million, one-horsepower motors or twenty million washing machines.
Power requirements for this electrically operated machine equals that of a city of 12,000 people. 52 electric motors, ranging from 1/4 to 3,000 horsepower each, will operate and propel this giant stripping shovel. The entire machine will be supported by hydraulic cylinders, one at each of the four crawler tracks. Each is independently and automatically operated to keep the machine in a level position at all times.
The huge shovel will be controlled by a single operator in his air-conditioned cab five stories high. A passenger elevator will provide access to the cab. Entire operation of the machine is controlled by two hand levers and two foot pedals.
In fifty seconds, the machine will pick up 173 tons of material, dump it 464 feet away and swing back for the next bite. The shovel boom will tower 210 feet in the air, as high as the deck of the Golden Gate Bridge—45 feet higher than Niagara Falls.
More than two years were required to build and erect the shovel. Erection phase, at the mine site, took from six to seven months.
I think of some men and women who had talents and abilities that were steam-shovel. Yet they did teaspoon work or mere garden-spade work for God.