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The Marion Model 91

by Lynne Belluscio

We just received notice that the Town has been awarded a grant for a historic marker for the steam shovel on the Gulf Road. This grant is provided by the William Pomeroy Foundation in Syracuse, which has championed historic markers throughout the state. This includes markers or plaques for those sites that are on the National Register. And just a note – several people have suggested that the shovel should be moved to a place where it is more visible.

First of all, it was eligible for the National Register because it was on the site of the quarry where it was used. It would lose its designation if it were moved. And because it is on the historic site, it stands as a testament to the men, who for two hundred years have quarried LeRoy’s limestone. In the meantime, I have been in contact with the engineering department at a National Historic site in Pennsylvania which can provide advice for stabilizing the machine.

A lot is known about the shovel. It is a Model 91 Marion and is one of 131 built in Ohio between 1902 and 1920. It is believed to be the only surviving Model 91 in the world. Sixteen of these shovels were shipped to Panama to help dig the canal. On May 12, 1912, a Marion Model 91 set the world’s record at the Barrow pit at the Gatun Dam for moving 554 cubic yards of earth at the Canal. General Crushed Stone Company supposedly bought one shovel from Panama, but they also bought one directly from the Marion Company in Ohio. Since the registration plate on the shovel was removed many years ago, there is no way of proving whether this shovel, or the other shovel that was in LeRoy, came from Panama.   READ MORE

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