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Marion Power Shovel was a Marion, Ohio based manufacturer of earth moving shovels and draglines, mainly used in construction and extraction of natural resource. The company's main product line consisted of bucket mining shovels and dragline mining shovels. From 1900 to the 1960s, Marion-built shovels and other products were among the best known trade names in earth moving equipment.


Marion Steam Shovel and Dredge Company

The Marion Steam Shovel Company was established by Henry Barnhart, George W. King and Edward Huber in August 1884. While steam shovels had been made prior to this date in the United States, Barnhart persueded Huber to financially back his design which incorporated a stronger bucket support than other makes. Barnhart and Huber patented Barnhart's changes under United States Patent No. 285,100 on September 18, 1883. One element of Barnhart's design was the use of solid iron rods (hog rings) to support the boom of the shovel, which was stronger than simple chain.

Marion built large and small steam shovels for building contractors, railroads and the US Army Corps of Engineers who had taken over the building of the Panama Canal at the time. Marion was most successful with the Model 20 series contractors shovels (see steam shovel).A Marion machine on the Panama canal project set a new record in July 1908 for moving 53000 cuyd of earth in 25 eight-hour days after American management of the project began.

During the project Marion Shovels broke several world records in amount of cubic earth moved within a given time frame (1908) and greatest amount (8-ton) lifted by a single bucket (1911).

By 1911 90% of all large bucket steam shovels and draglines were produced in Marion Ohio, which was also the headquarters of Osgood Steam Shovel, Fairbanks Steam Shovel and General Excavating Corporation. (Competitor Bucyrus Steam Shovel was founded 15 mi from Marion in nearby Bucyrus, Ohio; the company relocated soon thereafter to Milwaukee, Wisconsin after Bucyrus city officials refused to approve expansion plans for the company.)

Marion Power Shovel

In April 1946, the company changed its name to the Marion Power Shovel Company (MPS) to more closely reflect its products.

Marion built its first walking dragline in 1939 and became a key player in providing giant stripping shovels to the coal industry, being the first to put a long-boom revolving stripping shovel to work in North America in 1911. Marion’s succession of giant shovels, many breaking world size records, culminated in building the world’s largest in 1965, the Marion 6360. The 6360 at the Captain Mine, Illinois, operated with a 180 cubic yard (138 cubic meter) dipper. This machine was christen "El Captain". With an estimated weight of 15,000 tons (13,600 tonnes), this machine still holds the record as the heaviest mobile land machine ever built.

Acquires Osgood Company

In 1955, MPS acquired its cross town rival, the Osgood Company which manufactured shovels under the Marion-Osgood and Osgood brand names. Osgood's product line complimented MPS's, with most of Osgood's product line focusing on shovels, cranes and draglines that were small capacity machines as opposed to Marion's line which was focusing more and more on high end strip mining draglines. Osgood had also focused on road ready mobile units that utilized Mack truck undercarriages.

NASA Crawler

Marion made headlines when it built the famous Apollo moon rocket crawler-transporters for NASA in 1965. This transporter is still in use today to transport the space shuttle to the launch pad. Based on stripping shovel undercarriage technology, the two diesel-electric transporters were designed to move fully assembled lunar spacecraft and rockets from the assembly building at Cape Canaveral to the launch pad, a distance of three miles (5 km). These huge vehicles weighing 3,000 tons (2,722 tonnes) without load are powered by six diesel generator sets generating 7,600 horsepower (5,667 kilowatts). Still in use today, the transporters have played a key role in several NASA programs, including the Space Shuttle.


In the late 1960s the company was acquired by Dresser Industries during a period of consolidation of heavy earth moving machines. Later operating as the Marion Division of Indresco (the successor name to Dresser), Marion was acquired by Bucyrus International, Inc. in 1997.

Following the merger, Bucyrus International closed the Marion, Ohio works, (while retaining the brand name) ending shovel production and engineering as well as ending Marion, Ohio's role in shovel production.

Historical corporate files and archives for Marion Power Shovel were split between Ohio's Bowling Green State University and the Marion County Historical Society, Marion, Ohio.

Machine Listing

UK Machines

  • Marion 7500 17yds of 1971 owned by Wimpey, scraped in 1995.
  • Marion 7400 11 yds imported in 1964 and exported 1974 to Canada.

USA Machines

Stripper Shovels

  • 250 Stripper 3½ yds of 1911 1st Revolving machine in USA.
  • 300 stripper 6 yds of 1914 Rail mounted 6 yds of 1915 (74 units built)
  • 350 Stripper ? yds of 1923 weighed 560 ton (47 built) There is one preserved in the Canada at the Diplomat Mining Museum, Nr. Forestburgh, Alberta, Canada. (these were built at thee same time as the Model T ford car)
  • 5480 Stripper 12 yds of 1927 Weighed in at 1000 ton
  • 5560 stripper18 yds of 1932 had a counter balanced Hoist system. The First one was Still working in 1980 for Clement coal , of Kansas.
  • 5561 stripper 35 yds of 1940 trialled the Knee action crowd design.

1950s saw a demand for ever larger machines to fed the coal power station boom in America with fuel. Thus the "Supper stripper" Was Born.

  • 5760 65 yds of 1955 weighing 2,750 ton called "Mountaineer" Scrapped in the late 1980s.
  • 5761 65-75 yds 0f 1959 weighing 3788 ton. 15 were built.
  • 5860 80 yds of 1965 weighing 5,175 tons (Only two were built)
  • 6360 180 yds of 1965 weighing 15,000 tons was the "Captain" The largest ever built. Scrapped in 1992 after a Fire burn out the motor room, and it was written off as un repairable.
  • 5900 Stripper 112 yds of 1971 was the last Stripper design build, only 2 were built.
  • 5323 Stripper
  • 5960 Shovel "Big Digger", Weighed 7,338 tons, 125 cubic yard bucket, & set numerous records within the industry that still stand today.  Scrapped in 1989

Mining Shovels

  • 191-M 10-11 yds 1951
  • 204-M Coal loading shovel 26-30 yds 1976
  • 291-M Coal loading Shovel.
  • 301-M Coal Loading Shovel 1986 36 yds
  • 351-M Coal loading Shovel. 56 yds

Walking Draglines

  • 7200 7 yds of 1939 was the 1st walker built by Marion, still working in 1994.
  • 7400 11 yds of 1940 With over 90 built.
  • 7800 30 yds of 1942
  • 8800 85 yds of 1963 weighing 6,285 ton ( uprated to 100 yds after trials)
  • 8900 155 yds of 1967 (two were built)
  • 8950 150 yds of 1973 Weighed 7300 tons.
  • 7620 30 yds of 1974 "Queen o' Buttes" was the only one built
  • 8750 106 yds of 1990s 420 boom was the longest built.
  • 7450 11-14 yds from 1980s were a modular design.
  • 8050 - very popular model.

Rest of world

Marion's model 8200, a walking dragline, was specifically designed for operation at Moura Mine, Queensland, Australia. Moura Mine now has two of these machines in use today.


The Marion name was the inspiration for the steam shovel Mary Anne in the children's story Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton.

See also


  • Wikipedia (Original article has no refs. !!
  • Power Shovels By E.C.Orlemann
  • Extreme Mining Machines By Keith Haddock

External links

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