Digger Man

Digger Man Blog

by Nick Drew  |  Fri 12 Nov 2021

Marion 8750 Dragline Classic Assembly Photos

I was delighted to recently see photos posted on our Digger Man Blog Facebook group by American member Steve Kole which documented the erection of a massive Marion 8750 walking dragline back in 1976-77.

Marion 8750 Dragline Classic Assembly Photos

Steve has very kindly given us permission to re-publish the photos here on the stand-alone blog for the enjoyment of our readers. This will just be a small snap shot of the photos in Steve’s album which totalled around 95 individual photos, but I have selected some of my favourites to post here.

This example was the first of five 95 cubic yard capacity draglines that were built for Texas Utilities at the Martin-Lake Lignite coal surface mine near Beckville, Texas.

Steve said that to perform this massive assembly task on site, it required an engineering crew of around 35-men, who worked a 60-hour week, for a period of 18 months, which equated to approximately 165,000 working hours.


When the five draglines were eventually working, they were removing enough overburden soil to allow 40,000 tonnes of lignite coal to be uncovered which incredibly was the amount required to be burnt by the power plant each day! Apparently, the amount of lignite excavated each day was the equivalent of a 4-mile-long rail road train.

Assisting in the giant erection job was this 300-tonne capacity Clark/Lima 7707 model crawler crane, which those who know their cranes tell me, were very good machines back in the day. 

Talking about his historical photos and his job Steve said, "My mining photos came about because of my main customer, Texas Utilities Mining Company (TXU), desire to improve on what they were doing. They were a power company that got involved in the mining business in order to supply the lignite coal to their four power plants which were mine-mouth operations.

During this period 1975-1985, they were starting to hit their stride in mining, a total of 34-million tons of lignite coal annually from these four separate mine-mouth operations. In order to uncover 34-million tons of coal they had to annually remove / handle some 344-million cubic yards of overburden soil including the reclamation.

Removing / handling 344-million cubic yards of material is equivalent to digging 1.786 Panama Canals per year. As you can see this was one of the largest material handling projects in the Western Hemisphere.

They were operating some 16-Draglines of which half were in the 95-cubic yard range and half were in the 65-cubic yard range. They were secretive about their operations thus their 15,000 employees were prohibited from taking any photos of their mining operations.

I was one of the very few individuals who were allowed to take photos because they were looking at me, an outsider, to help them in getting new types of equipment into their operation such as Hydraulic Backhoes, Rubber Tires Dozers, Portable 1,500-ton per hour coal crusher for loading railcars and a Cross-Pit Spreader Belt Conveyor fed by Bucket Wheel Excavators.

The pictures of TXU Mines were necessary in order for me to persuade the different manufactures, Koehring, Clark-Michigan, Melroe Multi-Wheel, DEMAG, WABCO, etc., that the TXU account was large enough to justify the equipment manufactures in modifying existing equipment or in designing new equipment to better meet their needs to handle the humongous amount of coal and material TXU was handling each year".

Steve has a veritable treasure trove of historical machinery photos, and I hope to be able to bring some more of his content to the pages of the Digger Man Blog again soon.

I came across this video of a Marion 8750 still working in Texas in 2015, it would be interesting to find out if its one of these that used to belong to TXU. 

All photos contained in this blog post are credited to Steve Kole, and we thank him once again for sharing them with us here on the Digger Man Blog. 






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