1921 Marion Model 21 gas-powered shovel

1921 Marion Model 21 placing large wooden planks attached by chains to bucket

Pictured here, in 1921, is a Marion Model 21 gasoline-powered shovel that is trenching on a water main. Since backhoe (pull-shovel) attachments were in early design and testing phases by several manufacturers, contractors had to utilize what machines they had to get the job done. The trenching was done with the shovel digging forward instead of the backhoe reversing while digging. The Marion Model 21 shovel shown here was repositioning hardwood mats over the already-excavated trench to begin digging the next section. The shovels could be equipped with a longer dipper stick for deeper cuts. Note the all-riveted boom, stick & bucket made prior to the introduction of arc-welding assembly.

The Marion Power Shovel Co. in Ohio began building rail-mounted steam shovels and log loaders in the 1880s. The Marion shovels were ruggedly built, as shown by the twenty rail-mounted shovels dispatched and trusted to work on the Panama Canal. The construction of Ontario’s Welland Ship Canal, from 1913 to 1935, saw several large capacity Marion draglines at work. In the booming period that came after the Second World War, many Ontario contractors opted to buy from well-known shovel manufacturers that had production plants in Canada, such as Koehring (Brantford, Ontario), Link-Belt (Woodstock, Ontario) and Bucyrus-Erie (Guelph, Ontario).

The Marion Model 21 shovel could be mounted on steel wheels or track-mounted with two or four-crawler configurations. More than 800 Marion Model 21 shovels were built between 1919 and 1926. They were originally powered by steam, but by the end of production there were several options, including gasoline engines, electric or gas-electric generators, which were quite advanced for that era.

By the end of the 1990s, the Marion Power Shovel Co. had been taken over by rival manufacturer Bucyrus-Erie, marking the end of a century of innovation. Several large walking Marion draglines and cable shovels are still in being used in Surface Mining operations.

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Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 virus, and variants thereof, HCEA Canada reluctantly cancelled the annual June event ‘Wheels & Tracks in Motion’ for the safety of all concerned. A decision on ‘The Last Blast,’ our October event, will be determined early in September.  Please check our website for updates: www.hceacanada.org.

To see more than 60 restored pieces of vintage construction equipment in action, be sure to attend the events held by the Historical Construction Equipment Association (HCEA Canada) at the Simcoe County Museum near Barrie, Ontario.

HCEA Canada is a Proud Community Heritage Partner of the Simcoe County Museum.

by HCEA Canada