the big muskie bucket
Midwest,  Ohio

The Big Muskie Bucket at Miner’s Memorial Park

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One of Ohio’s best roadside attractions sits in the hills of McConnelsville, waiting for visitors; it is the Big Muskie Bucket. The huge Big Muskie Bucket is all that remains of the World’s Largest Earth Moving Machine, “The Big Muskie.”

The Big Muskie Bucket in McConnelsville, Ohio
The Big Muskie Bucket in McConnelsville, Ohio

Guests visiting this iconic coal mining artifact can learn about the history of coal mining in Ohio and even climb inside the monstrous bucket. For scale, an entire high school band was able to fit inside.

Take a moment to appreciate the sheer size of the monstrous machine this was attached to. The chains alone are impressive and it is easy to see why this was deemed one of the great engineering wonders of the world.

Would I make a special drive out to see this attraction? Likely not, since there isn’t much to do nearby. However, if you find yourself in the area, be sure to stop to see this cool piece of Ohio history.

Don’t forget to pick up an Ohio Road Map or an atlas . Service is hit or miss in this area!

About the Big Muskie

So what was the Big Muskie? It was a single-bucket digging machine that was used to extract coal. What makes this monsterous machine so special is that held the title for the world’s largest dragline and world’s largest earth moving machine. Big Muskie moved more than 483 million cubic yards of material to uncover nearly 18 million tons of coal over the course of its life.

Educational Panels about Big Muskie and Coal Mining in the area
Educational Panels about Big Muskie and Coal Mining in the area

In the early 1960s, the rising demand for coal by Muskingum River Power Plant meant an increased need in production. The need was met with the Big Muskie, a Bucyrus-Erie 4250-W dragline, the largest walking dragline ever built. Only seagoing vessels the scale of Navy Aircraft carriers are larger and still mobile.

The machine was so large it was necessary to ship the components and erect the machine on site. It took 340 rail cars and 260 trucks to ship all of the components and 200,000 man-hours to construct, but the machine finally went into production in 1969.

Climb inside the Big Muskie's Bucket
Climb inside the Big Muskie’s Bucket

The Big Muskie was massive, with the machine’s boom being 310 feet long. The massive machine had a 240-ton bucket that could grab 325 tons of earth in a single bite.

When the Big Muskie was finished uncovering coal in one area, the Muskie was moved to another, requiring a road wider than an eight-lane highway.

What Happened To The Big Muskie

It’s enormous size proved to be its biggest downfall, as it required a flat, stable surface to support the machine’s 14,000-ton working weight. It fell idle in January of 1991 as more efficient mining technology and the Clean Air Act came into play.

Chain of the Big Muskie Bucket
Chain of the Big Muskie Bucket

In the early 1990s, demand for high sulfur coal had declined significantly. The immense cost of powering Big Muskie could no longer be justified, and it was shut down. There were efforts to have Big Muskie preserved and relocated, but the money could not be raised, and in May 1999, Big Muskie was disassembled and recycled. All that remains today is the bucket.

Fun Fact: In its 22 years of service, it removed twice the amount of earth moved during the original construction of the Panama Canal.

Jesse Owens State Park

Overlooking the reclaimed land the Muskie Bucket tells the story of coal mining in the area. You can find the bucket Inside the Miner’s Memorial at Jesse Owens State Park in Morgan County, Ohio.

Jesse Owens State Park
Jesse Owens State Park

Jesse Owen’s State Park has its own unique story to tell, as it was created from American Electric Power’s commitment to restoring the land to the same condition or better after mining. After extracting the coal, the land was graded, seeded with grasses, and planted with trees.

Today the park is a recreation resource for all to enjoy, with primitive campgrounds, hiking, birding, and gorgeous lakes stocked with fish. The park is maintained by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

Miners’ Memorial Park

The Miner’s Memorial Park is a monument to the achievements of the men and women of American Electric Power (AEP) and its subsidiary Central Ohio Coal Company, located along State Route 78.

Miners’ Memorial Park
Miners’ Memorial Park

The Wall of Honor is another highlight of the area, showcasing past and present employees of Central Ohio Coal Company, the AEP subsidiary that operated the Big Muskie. Don’t miss the educational panels telling the story of Big Muskie along with photos.

In addition to the memorial features found in this part of the park, visitors can enjoy a picnic area with a shelter and a scenic overlook of the area. It is a pretty place to spend the morning or afternoon.

Where To Stay While Visiting The Big Muskie’s Bucket

About a half-hour drive from the big muskie’s bucket is Burr Oak Lodge. The Lodge offers a peaceful getaway in Ohio that is off the beaten path. From nightly campfires to competitive rounds of putt-putt, it is a great spot to overnight while in the area. They even offer cabins!

Burr Oak State Lodge
Burr Oak State Lodge
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