Big Muskie's bucket.

Big Muskie's Bucket

Field review by the editors.

McConnelsville, Ohio

"Big Muskie" was once the World's Largest Earth Moving Machine. What remains today is a monstrous metal bucket, vaguely resembling a robot dog head. The bucket sits on a rise, overlooking the beautiful valley that it once mined and destroyed, which has been renamed "Re-Creation Land."

Built in 1969, Big Muskie could move 39 million pounds of earth and rock every hour, revealing rich coal seams 100-150 feet down in southeastern Ohio. BM could swing its boom 600 feet, creeping across the landscape on four giant shoes. The immense dragline machine was churning along at full production until 1991, when power demands and other factors convinced the owners to shut down.

Big Muskie in the glory days.
Big Muskie in the glory days.

For several years, visitors could tour the innards, and Big Muskie postcards could be found around Ohio. Then a bill called the Surface Mining Reclamation Act required its removal in the late 1990s. It was a familiar threat scenario. In other cases there have been happy endings: arch rival Big Brutus still stands today, a popular southeastern Kansas "heritage attraction."

The "Save Big Muskie" campaign failed to raise the millions needed to maintain the goliath, despite pledges of funding from several sources, including "The Wilds," a animal preserve built over land once mined by Big Muskie. The area was closed to the public as of March 1999, when salvage started.

In May 1999, Big Muskie was destroyed. The slow walking, surface mining behemoth was dismantled for scrap, high explosives used to blow off its five inch thick cables. Muskie land owner American Electric Power turned the remaining giant bucket into a "centerpiece of a display [telling] visitors about the Big Muskie, surface mining and reclamation ... to memorialize the men and women who helped mine and reclaim the area."

The park, a roadside pull-off on a slope along the valley's edge, is well maintained, with its own groundskeeper, by AEP. Covered garbage can lids at site have "No fish" written on them, maybe going too far in the other direction. There are picnic tables.

An interpretive display tells Big Muskie's story. One photo shows an entire high school band playing inside the bucket.

Big Muskie's Bucket

Miners Memorial Park

Address:
State Route 78, McConnelsville, OH
Directions:
I-77 exit 25 (Caldwell). Head west on SR 78 -- a winding, hilly, two-lane road -- 16 miles to the Bucket in Miners Memorial Park.
RA Rates:
Major Fun
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November 1, 2014

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