Issue 3-22-15 Website - page 11

TheMarionModel 91
We just receivednotice that the
Town has been awarded a grant
forahistoricmarker for thesteam
shovel on the Gulf Road. This
grant is provided by theWilliam
PomeroyFoundation inSyracuse,
which has championed historic
markers throughout thestate.This
includes markers or plaques for
thosesites thatareon theNational
Register.And justanote–several
people have suggested that the
shovel shouldbemoved toaplace
where it ismore 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
havequarriedLeRoy’s limestone.
In the meantime, I have been in
contact with the engineering de-
advice forstabilizing themachine.
A lot is known about the shovel.
It is aModel 91Marion and is one
of 131 built inOhio 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 thecanal.OnMay12,1912, a
MarionModel 91 set theworld’s
record at the Barrow pit at the
GatunDam formoving554cubic
yardsofearthat theCanal.Gener-
al Crushed Stone Company sup-
posedly bought one shovel from
Panama,but theyalsoboughtone
directly from theMarionCompa-
ny inOhio. Since the registration
plate on the shovelwas removed
many years ago, there is noway
of proving whether this shovel,
or the other shovel that was in
LeRoy, came fromPanama.
The shovel weighs over 100
tons. It has three engines, pow-
ered by a large boiler. The larg-
est engine is located inside the
engine house and it propelled the
machine forward or backward
by chains connected to the axles.
(About 50 feet of this chain was
removed after it was driven out
of the quarry.) This engine has
a 12-inch bore and a 16 inch
stroke. Originally the shovel
moved on railroadwheels. Track
had tobe laid in the quarry to the
rock face where the shovel was
used. Sometime around 1924,
thewheelswere replaced
with tractors.
The second engine is
called the swing engine
and has an 8-inch bore.
It manipulates the boom
fromoneside to theother.
The third engine is the
boom engine – some-
times called the crowd
engine and is mounted
on the boom. It also has
an 8-inch bore and was
used to raise or lower
the bucket. This engine,
unlike the other two, has
been exposed to the weather for
over 100 years, and is in very
serious condition. Amazingly,
the shovel has its original boiler.
The importance of having
huge shovels like theMarion91,
was an indication of the change
in the limestone industry. Orig-
inally, limestone in LeRoy was
quarried forbuildingmaterial.As
you lookaroundLeRoy,youwill
notice many buildings, founda-
tions, andbridges constructedof
local limestone. When railroads
were at their peak, stone from
LeRoywasused tobuildculverts
and bridges. But crushed stone
was necessary for ballast along
the railroad tracks. It’s hard to
believe,buta lotof that stonewas
broken by manual labor and it
With the introduction of the
automobile and paved roads
it was necessary to develop
mechanical crushing machines.
Between 1901 and 1909, the
quarry in LeRoy boasted that
it had the largest crusher in the
world. The traditionalmethodof
moving rock from thequarry face
to the crusher could no longer
be handled with horse carts and
manual labor. The stage was set
for thedevelopmentofastronger
excavating steam shovel.
The LeRoy Gazette
a lot of details about the shovel.
“It is known as a 5-yard dipper,
and every time it is dippeddown
into the stone, it will lift enough
of it to fill one of the cars. This
is a great improvement over the
oldwayandwill greatly increase
inoutputof theplantwith less la-
bor.”Thequestion iswhether the
shovel with the 5-yard dipper is
theoneon theGulfRoad,because
it has only a 2½ yard dipper.
In published material about
these steam shovels, it is men-
tioned that they were rarely
equipped with the large 5-yard
limestone. So either the “other”
steam shovel had a 5-yard dip-
per or it was changed out and
equippedwith thesmallerdipper.
In 1906, the output of crushed
stone from the LeRoy quarry
was 2,000 tons a day. Most of
thatwas shipped175miles south
to Sayre, Pennsylvania for the
Inanyevent, it isbelieved that
the LeRoy shovel is the only re-
in the world. Not only does it
represent the limestone industry
in LeRoy, but it is a tribute to
thesegrandmachines that helped
build thePanamaCanal.
Last year Iwas contactedby a
museum thatwasdoinganexhibit
on the Panama Canal, and they
wanted to borrow the dipper for
their exhibit. After I explained
that it would be impossible to
remove thedipperwithout doing
damage to the boom, and there
was noguarantee that it couldbe
putback, theconversationended.
But it did impress uponme how
important thesteamshovel is,and
how lucky we are that it wasn’t
scrapped during World War II.
---Andyes, thestoryaboutMike
Mulligan and his steam shovel
Mary Ann is based on a shovel
madeby theMarionSteamShov-
el Company.
ByDanielCase (Ownwork).
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