Big Muskie was a walking dragline -- the worlds largest mobile land machine ever built and was considered one of the seven engineering wonders of the modern world.

She was as wide as an eight lane highway, and as tall at the tip of her boom as a 22 story building. Big Muskie was commissioned in 1965 by the Central Ohio Coal Company, the Bucyrus-Erie Company spent over two years just to engineer the plans for this monster, her cost was $25 million (this was in 1969, she'd be quite a bit more expensive in today's dollars). Her home was Muskingum County, Ohio hence the name "Big Muskie".

Big Muskie (the BE4250W) had to be built at the coal mine site, it took over two years to build Big Muskie, when she was complete she weighed in at over 27 million pounds -- more than the weight of 13,000 cars! Her bucket weights over 460,000 lbs when empty and can carry 640,000 lbs -- able to easily hold 12 cars. The bucket is a wonder itself with each tooth 3 feet long and weighing over 1,000 lbs. Big Muskie worked 7 days a week 24 hours a day and moved three million cubic yards of overburden per month and over 608,000,000 cubic yards of dirt, shale, clay, and sandstone in it's 30 year working lifetime.

Big Muskie's dimensions and components:

  • Weight - 27,000,000 lbs., or 13,500 tons, including wire rope, boom, bucket and equipment ready for operation.
  • Length - 487' 6" (148.6 m) from rear of house enclosure to horizontally extended boom point.
  • Width - 151' (46 m) between exterior side walls of walking shoes.
  • Height - From base: to top of house enclosure - 67' 1" (20.4 m); to top of A-frame - 119' 11.25" (36.6 m); to top of boom at highest operating angle - 222' 6" (67.8 m).
  • Maximum digging depth - 185' (56.4 m)
  • Power cable diameter - 12.7 cm (5 in)
  • Electrically powered - 13,800 volts
  • Mobility - hydraulically driven walking feet


  • Capacity - 220 cubic yards (168.2 cubic meters).
  • Unloaded weight - 460,000 lbs., or 230 tons, including hardware.
  • Typical overburden load-per-pass - 320 tons.
  • Exterior width - 23'1" (7 m).
  • Exterior basket height - 13' 10" (4.2 m).
  • Exterior arch height - 22' 9" (6.9 m).
  • Exterior length (maximum) - 27' 3" (8.3 m).
After the Surface Mining Reclamation Act called for the removal of all draglines on strip mine sites, and all efforts to preserve her had failed, demolition began in May of 1999 -- with the use of explosives to severe the 5 inch cables holding her boom up. Big Muskie's bucket was preserved and can be seen at Miner’s Memorial Park, just outside of Caldwell, Ohio. While efforts to save Big Muskie failed, they were successful in preserving Oddball, Big Muskie's "little" sister.


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