DEC2015 - page 1

VolumeXXVI
Number4
2015
23EastMainStreet •POBox176 • LeRoy,NewYork14482
NewSign
The Marion steam shovel, on the
GulfRoadwasapprovedasaNation-
al Landmark and now it has a large
sign tomark that occasion.The sign
wasmadepossibleby thegenerosity
of thePomeroyFoundation.Anyhis-
toricsite that is listedon theNational
Register of Historic Places is eligible
for amarker.
TheLeRoy shovel is aModel 91Mar-
ion and is one of 131built inOhiobe-
tween 1902 and 1920. It is believed to
be the only survivingModel 91 in the
world. Sixteen of these shov-
els were shipped to Panama
tohelpdig the canal.OnMay
12, 1912, a Marion Model 91
set the world’s record at the
Barrow pit at the GatunDam
for moving 554 cubic yards
of earth at theCanal.General
CrushedStoneCompanysup-
posedly bought one shovel
from Panama, but they also
bought one directly from the
Marion Company in Ohio.
Since the registrationplateon
the LeRoy shovel was removedmany
years ago, there is no way of proving
whether this shovel,or theother shov-
el came fromPanama.
The shovel weighs over 100 tons.
It has three engines, powered by a
large boiler. The largest engine is lo-
cated inside the engine house and
it propelled the machine forward or
backwardbychains connected to the
axles. (About 50 feet of this chainwas
removed after it was driven out of
thequarry.) This enginehas a12-inch
bore and a 16 inch stroke. Originally
the shovelmovedon railroadwheels.
Rails had to be laid in the quarry up
to the rock facewhere theshovelwas
used. Sometime around 1924, the
wheelswere replacedwith tractors.
The second engine is called the
swingengine andhas an8-inchbore.
It manipulates the boom from one
side to the other. The third engine is
theboom engine – sometimes called
the crowdengine and ismountedon
the boom. It also has an 8-inch bore
and was used to raise or lower the
bucket. This engine, unlike the other
two,hasbeenexposed to theweather
for over 100 years, and is in very seri-
ous condition. Amazingly, the shovel
has itsoriginal boiler.
The importance of having huge
shovels, like the Marion 91, was an
indication of the change in the lime-
stone industry. Originally, limestone
in LeRoy was quarried for building
material. As you look around LeRoy,
youwill noticemany buildings, foun-
dations, and bridges constructed of
local limestone. When railroadswere
at their peak, stone from LeRoy was
used to build culverts and bridges.
But crushed stone was necessary for
ballast along the railroad tracks.
It’shard tobelieve,but a lot of that
stone was broken by
manual labor and it
was moved by horse-
drawn carts. With the
introduction of the au-
tomobile and paved
roads it was necessary
to developmechanical
crushingmachines.
Between 1901 and
1909, the quarry in Le-
Royboasted that it had
the largest crusher in
the world. The tradi-
tional method of moving rock from
the quarry face to the crusher could
no longer be handled with horse
carts and manual labor. The stage
was set for the development of a
stronger excavating steam shovel.
The LeRoy Gazette
included a lot of
details about the shovel.“It is known
asa5-yarddipper,andevery time it is
dippeddown into the stone, itwill lift
enoughof it tofilloneof thecars.This
is a great improvement over the old
way andwill greatly increase in out-
put of the plant with less labor.“ The
question iswhether theLeRoy shovel
everhada5-yarddipper,because the
dipper on it now has a 2 ½ yard ca-
pacity. In published material about
these steam shovels, it is mentioned
that they were rarely equippedwith
the large 5-yard dipper when work-
ing with heavy limestone. So either
the“other”steam shovel hada5-yard
dipper or it was changed out and
equippedwith the smallerdipper.
It isbelieved that the LeRoy shovel
istheonly remainingModel 91Mar-
ion shovel in
the
world.
Not only
does it rep-
resent the
l imestone
industry and
all the men
who worked
in the quar-
ries inLeRoy,but it isa tribute to these
grandmachines that helpedbuild the
Panama Canal. How lucky it is that it
wasn’t scrapped duringWorldWar II.
And yes, the story about Mike Mulli-
ganandhissteamshovel“MaryAnn”is
basedonashovelmadeby theMarion
SteamShovel Company.
In1906,theoutputofcrushedstone
from theLeRoyquarrywas2,000 tons
a day. Most of that was shipped 175
miles south to Sayre, Pennsylvania
for the Lehigh Railroad. In the 1950s,
crushed limestone fromLeRoyhelped
build theMt.MorrisDam.
Eventually, consultants from the
National Historic site at Steamtown
in Scranton, Pennsylvania, will be
brought toLeRoy toundertakeacon-
ditionreportandprovidesuggestions
for stabilizing thehugemachine. It is
hoped that interpretivepanelscanbe
installed in a park-like setting, to ex-
plain the importanceofModel 91.
Join us on
NewYear’s Eve
LeRoy House will be open
at7pmonNewYear’sEve for
those people whowill be in
town to see the fireworks at
9. There is plenty of parking
in our parking lot, and lumi-
naries will be set out along
the Jell-OBrickRoad. Joinus
for a cup of hot cider as we
welcome the NewYear. Our
old fashioned games of skit-
tles and crinkonole will be
set up near the roaring fire
and tables will be set
up for aquickhandof euchre.
Kidsarewelcomeandwe look
forward to seeing you and
your friendsand family.
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