The Bucyrus Erie 2570-WS dragline made in Milwaukee U.S.A, is currently the worlds biggest operational dragline. The one that works in the Black Thunder North American mine is named after the constellation "Ursa Major" and for good reason, she can shift a galactic amount of overburden and in a very short space of time.

Just to note here, that on November 15th, 2010, the company of Bucyrus was bought out by Caterpillar for 8.6 Billion dollars and the Bucyrus Erie 2570-WS is now called the Caterpillar 8750 or the Cat-8750  for short.

This new Caterpillar dragline was basically designed by the company of Marion  and not Bucyrus Erie. For the experts out there, the Caterpillar 8750 that Marion used to build does not actually resemble a Bucyrus Erie except that they both utilize a bucket and boom.

Below is shown the massive bucket (the business end of the dragline) as it literally drags up hundreds of ton of earth and rock in a single scoop. Thousands of tons of overburden are cleared every day by these vast buckets, controlled by their vast booms and vast machines.


Below is shown "Brutus" a 2000 ton Marion 7820 dragline that currently works for the Medusa Cement Company but it used to work for CEMEX and Brutus has a tale to tell...


...on September 24th, 1999 whilst operating at the CEMEX Southdown quarry in Wampum, West Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, poor Brutus actually slipped over the edge of a 70 foot embankment.  It first slid down on its side and then completely capsized into the soft earth as one of its "feet" buried itself into the ground. It was the colossal weight of Brutus on an uneven surface that was most likely the cause of the slide in.

Indeed the earth underneath this massive dragline gave way and down it slid, unfortunately Brutus's operator, David Carcaise, was catastrophically hurt in this accident.  However his injuries were not fatal and his wife filed a lawsuit that saw him being compensated $6,400,000 and she was also awarded a sum of $500,000.

Below is shown another couple of images of the capsized Brutus as it lies in a mangled heap of twisted metal.

Brutus was well and truly busted up, had it not flipped over then the damage would have been slight. Its solid metal based would have afforded a lot of protection but this was not to be.


The mining company of CEMEX were initially only going to salvage as many serviceable parts off it as possible.  However the decision to rescue and rebuild the entire dragline is what eventually occurred.  She was indeed rebuilt and the Marion 7820 was later put back to work.

Brutus would then have needed to earn back the compensation and the cost of her rebuild at several million dollars.  Big industry has big machines with even bigger invoices but also has big earnings!

It is a shame to learn about this accident this but remember the bigger they are the harder they fall. Quarries and mines can be very dangerous places and when accidents happen, they really  do happen!


Below is the new uniform makeover color scheme that tells the world that this dragline is now well and truly a Caterpillar and not a Bucyrus.


However, I shall still refer to the dragline as her original name for posterity. Below is show the "Peabody" Bucyrus Erie 2570-WS in her coal mine company colors.  She will soon be hard at work earning her keep shovelling massive amounts of overburden in a single sweep.

The bucket on the Bucyrus Erie 2570-WS dragline has a 362 ton capacity and can fill a Back-hoe dumper in one pass. In fact her shovel is as big as a back-hoes dumper and this makes for fast efficient operation in the busy world of open cast mining and aggregate processing.

The Bucyrus Erie 2570-WS also has an impressive scooping depth of over 215 feet.  She works hard and can clear a massive amount of over burden during an operation day.  She does not get around very fast though and walks on two huge metal plates at under one mph!

Below is another image showing the "Peabody" Bucyrus Erie 2570 that is slowly but surely walking to the Bear Run Mine at Dugger in the U.S.A.


This is a superb piece of excavating equipment with a bucket capacity of 115 cubic yards and a boom length of 335 feet. She weighs in at 6,445 tons and is 222 feet tall to the top of her boom.  Her operating radius is 300 feet with a boom angle of 38 degrees.  This particular dragline actually started work in the mine in 1977 and was originally owned by the AMAX Coal Company.

The Bucyrus Erie 2570-WS dragline has a massive price tag of around $35,000,000 indeed a whopping 35 million dollars!  This does sound initially expensive but when we learn that she can earn that money back in a very short time then she's worth every dollar.  When we also learn that her operating life is over 40 years then its even more understandable and any good mine would be astute to purchase her.

The Bucyrus Erie 2570-WS is perhaps the world best and cost effective method of shifting overburden and can shift around 93,000 tons in just one day.  In a year, this equates to around 43,000,000 tons of overburden.


Big Muskie was once the world biggest dragline and  got her name when she was used in the Ohio Power Company's mine that was situated in Muskingum Eastern Ohio. Built in 1969 at a cost of $25 Million, she was a Bucyrus Erie 4259-W dragline and was the only one ever built at that time.

She was the worlds biggest vehicle and had a maximum top speed of 1 tenth mph and it achieved this by walking along on hydraulic feet. She stood 22 stories high to the top of her boom, a colossal size and a colossal feat of engineering.

Big Muskie was not just a blot on the landscape, she was  the landscape.  If you were standing a few miles away, Big Muskie could still easily be seen.

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I am posting all of these specifications here for posterity to the truly huge vehicle that Big Muskie was. Her size and capability was second to none and in many respects she remains the king of the draglines.

  • Weight: 27 million lbs (13,500 tons.) The equivalent of 150 Boeing 747 Jumbo jets, this is twice as heavy and the current worlds biggest operational dragline.

  • Bucket Capacity: 220 cubic yards, 325 tons. Enough to hold 12 family cars inside. 

  • Height to top of boom: 222 feet.

  • Length of boom: 310 feet. About 1½ football fields long.

  • Length of machine with boom down: 487 feet.

  • Empty bucket weight: 232 tons.

  • Width: 151 feet. On comparison to an eight lane freeway!

  • Cable diameter: 5 inches thick.

  • Electrical Power: 13,800 generated volts, enough to power 27,500 homes.

  • Mobility: Hydraulically driven walking feet, top speed one tenth of a mile per hour.  Speed was not an essential part of Big Muskie but what she could do when she finally got there!


In her life time she worked hard and earned her keep. She removed over 600,000,000 cubic yards of material which has been estimated to be twice the amount that was excavated out of the Panama Canal.

Unfortunately Big Muskie has since been dismantled and cut up for scrap. This started on May 17th, 1999, when her main boom cables were severed by explosives and the boom came crashing down. The recycled steel from Big Muskie was enough to make 9,000 family cars and this is indeed where the steel went.


The 232 ton bucket was saved from the cutters and will be preserved as a monument to all the people that worked at the mine. The only problem now, was transporting this huge and very heavy bucket.

232 tons...away we go! A powerful  truck is hitched up to Big Muskie's bucket in preparation for the long haul.  These trucks are pretty powerful beasts with big engines...its true what they say that there is no replacement for displacement.

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The bucket is hauled away with the additional help of a powerful earthmover! Indeed an earthmover was required to assist in the haul as the big size this bucket presented big sized problems too. Of course horsepower, and lots of it is the solution.

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The engines would have started to show the strain a little as the bucket was hauled up an incline. Pulling a 232 ton dead weight like this required a lot of time and patience.

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But they got it there in the end!  The final monumental resting place, an everlasting memory to Big Muskie. As you can see, it would have been no problem to actually park this pick-up (and several more) inside the bucket.



A very close contender to Big Muskie was the Silver Spade stripping digger that was built in 1965 and worked in Cadiz Ohio USA.

She stood 220 feet tall with a 200 foot long boom and weighed in at 7,000 tons.  The 105 cubic yard bucket capacity of the Silver Spade had a 160 ton maximum load. The shovel was actually controlled by the "ground crew" who sat on a lower level from the drivers cab, between the tracks.

The Silver Spade, unlike Big Muskie, didn't walk but rode on 4 sets of crawler tracks with each set at 34 feet long and 8 feet high.

The Silver Spade  travelled slow at ¼ mph powered by an AC 13,500hp engine and it could dig 315,000 lbs of earth in a single scoop and then drop the amount 390 feet away.  The bucket is suspended on four thick steel cables that are 3 tenths under 3 inches in diameter and about 3,000 feet in length.

From 1965 until recently, the Silver Spade dug 607,000,000 cubic yards of earth at Ohio strip mines. By comparison, the Panama Canal required 405,000,000 cubic yards of excavation. That's a lot of earth!

Sadly though, the Silver Spade suffered a serious break down when 19  out of 100 of its huge cab support bearing rollers completely wore out and separated from their housings.  These roller bearings weighed about 800 lbs each and to replace the damaged ones would cost 2½ million dollars and this amount was not deemed justifiable.

With new technology around it would not be a viable position to repair a 42 year old machine that was now wearing out, and fast!

So Silver Spade was to be scrapped, she had a $700,000 scrap value and was consequently worth more dead than alive!

The Silver Spade was finally dismantled and the last image of her was as a unrecognizable pile of scrap, as seen in the sad image above.  Of course today, not even those remains are there now, being recycled long ago.


Page created November 2000.  Updated June 6th 2014