The Restoration Of The World’s Oldest Dragline
The world’s oldest dragline, a Bucyrus Class-24, is a project of the Edmonton Branch and the Coal Division of the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum (CIM) in recognition of their Centennial.
Begun in 1998, the project involved recovering the Bucyrus from the Luscar Sterco mine site in Coal Valley, transporting it to its new home at the Reynolds-Alberta Museum in Wetaskiwin, and restoring the house. The completion of the project means the visiting public can see and have access to the only example of a skid-and-roller mounted dragline in existence, and a rare piece of early Alberta surface mining history.
“In 1917, this was the largest dragline in the world. The Bucyrus Class 24 Dragline offers visitors to the Reynolds-Alberta Museum an opportunity to see a unique survivor of Alberta’s mining history,” comments Dan Bodie, curator at the museum.
The Reynolds-Alberta Museum is located 2 km west of Wetaskiwin on Hwy 13, just 40 minutes south of Edmonton and is open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Media enquiries should be directed to:
Head of Marketing and Communications
Reynolds-Alberta Museum 361-1351 or 1-800-661-4726
What is a dragline?
A dragline is an excavating machine consisting of a rotating deck (the upper works), a base (the lower works), and a boom. An operator, sitting in the house, controls a digging bucket suspended from the end of a boom by a hoist line (a wire rope connected to a winch on the deck).
The bucket is filled by dragging it toward the machine. The bucket and contents are then hoisted clear of the ground. The ability of the deck to rotate means the bucket’s contents can be dumped anywhere within the radius of the swing of the end of the boom.
Draglines are used in coal mining, rock quarries, and sand and gravel pits.
Unlike modern draglines, the Bucyrus Class 24 uses a skid-and-roller technique to move itself forward. A series of iron rollers are manually placed between the machine’s base and a track of heavy timbers. The machine drags itself along using its bucket. The Bucyrus Class 24 is the only known example in existence of a skid-and-roller type dragline.
History of the Bucyrus Class 24 Dragline
·The Bucyrus Class 24 Dragline was built in South Milwaukee, Wisconsin, by the Bucyrus Company.
·It was shipped to the Canadian Bucyrus dealer in 1917.
·From 1927 to 1952, the Bucyrus Class 24 Dragline was used in surface mining operations for the Sterling Collieries Company’s Coal Valley Mine, Alberta. This mine was part of an extensive operation that involved a number of communities and mines in the Nordegg/Cadomin area.
·The demand for coal diminished during the 1950s when the Canadian railroad companies, the main coal market, turned from steam to diesel.
·The Bucyrus Class 24 Dragline remained inoperable at Coal Valley since 1952, rendered obsolete by new mining technology.
·Many of the old shovels and mining equipment in the Coal Valley area were cut up for scrap in the mid-1950s. The Bucyrus Class 24 Dragline escaped this fate because it was submerged in a flooded pit and could not be reached until the pit was drained in 1988.
·The Bucyrus Class 24 Dragline was built in 1917.
·It is the oldest surviving dragline in the world.
·It is the only known surviving example of a skid-and-roller-mounted dragline.
·When manufactured, it was the largest type of dragline made.
·It is an example of a major piece of steam-powered industrial equipment.
·The Bucyrus Class 24 Dragline is an example of early surface coal mining equipment that operated during a vital period of primary resource development in Alberta.
The Edmonton Branch and the Coal Division of the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum (CIM) in partnership with Reynolds-Alberta Museum, Wetaskiwin, Alberta.
The recovery, transportation, restoration and interpretation of the world’s oldest dragline, a Bucyrus Class 24 built in 1917.
Preparation work provided an opportunity to collect historical information, and to make the machine safe and secure prior to being moved. The wooden house construction was documented before being disassembled. The boiler, water tank, and ballast were removed. The gantry (‘A’ frame bridgework over which the cables run to the boom) was disassembled and lifted down. The upper metal frame was aligned with the lower metal frame for transporting. The machine was cleaned and stabilized
The Bucyrus Class 24 Dragline’s 30-metre (100 foot) boom was repaired, attached, and cabled and the wooden house was reconstructed.
Visitors can now walk around the base of the machine. Future interpretive panels will provide information on surface mining and the role played by the Bucyrus Class 24 and other similar machinery.
The Bucyrus Class 24 Dragline was transported on a 64-wheel trailer from the Coal Valley site of Luscar Sterco (1977) Ltd. to the Reynolds-Alberta Museum in Wetaskiwin. Loading took place at the Coal Valley site of Luscar Sterco (1977) Ltd. Premay Equipment Ltd. transported the machine.
Graham Brothers Construction Group Ltd. built a road to the display location on the Reynolds-Alberta Museum grounds. The Bucyrus Class 24 Dragline sits on concrete pads. The Bucyrus Class 24 is on permanent display outdoors at the Reynolds-Alberta Museum, Wetaskiwin.
Restoration of the Bucyrus Class 24 Dragline is a CIM Centennial project. The Bucyrus Class 24 was last used in 1952. Eventually, it became submerged in a pit where it remained until the pit was drained in 1988. The Bucyrus Class 24 Dragline came from an active Luscar Sterco mine site in western Alberta and was inaccessible to the public. Relocating it to the Reynolds-Alberta Museum assures its preservation, ongoing maintenance and exposure to more than 70,000 visitors each year.
Restoration and interpretation helps visitors appreciate the historical significance of the Bucyrus Class 24 Dragline (as the world’s oldest dragline, and only example in existence of a skid-and-roller mounted dragline).
The dragline left Coal Valley on July 28, 1998 and arrived in Wetaskiwin on July 30, 1998. Restoration work began following the dragline’s arrival at the Reynolds-Alberta Museum and was completed in September 2001.
The Bucyrus Class 24 Dragline is restored as a non-operating artifact. Interpretive panels, complete with technical specifications, will be installed with the dragline.
This is a volunteer project of the Edmonton Branch and Coal Division of the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum in partnership with the Reynolds-Alberta Museum, Wetaskiwin.
Many individuals and organizations generously donated their time, money, equipment, and expertise to this project. This was a cooperative effort:
·Luscar Sterco (1977) Ltd. provided welders, machinery and operators, and engineering students
·The Edmonton Branch and the Coal Division of the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum undertook fundraising
·Reynolds-Alberta Museum undertook photo documentation and sketching, and stabilization.
·Historic Sites Service provided restoration of the house, on-site supervision and support.