Logged in as user  [Login]  |
AHSP
Return to Search Results Printable Version
 





DIPLOMAT MINE SITE

Forestburg, Near

Other Names:
Diplomat Mine
Diplomat Surface Mine
Forestburg Diplomat Mine
MARION 360 SHOVEL (SERIAL NUMBER 8011), THE

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place
The Diplomat Mine Site comprises two massive strip mining machines and one large strip mining shovel bucket situated on 2.5 hectares of reclaimed strip mine located roughly 15 kilometres southwest of the Village of Forestburg. Visible to the immediate southwest of the site, but not included in the designation, are spoil piles that reflect mining operations and later reclamation efforts.

Heritage Value
The heritage value of the Diplomat Mine Site lies in its association with the evolution of strip mining operations and technology in Alberta.

The area which the Diplomat Mine Site occupies was originally part of the collection of homesteads claimed by Austin Bish and his family, who arrived in Alberta from Oregon in 1905. In 1907, Bish's four sons established their first underground coal mine in the area to exploit the region's mineral deposits. The Bish brothers continued to operate underground mines in the vicinity until 1949, when the operation was sold to a group of business interests incorporated under the name Forestburg Collieries Limited. One year later, Luscar Coals Limited bought out the other partners in the enterprise and took control of the Diplomat Mine site. Prior to the 1940s, surface mining on a major scale had been unusual in North America; in the post-World War Two period, it became the dominant form of extraction in the industry. From 1950 until the mine's closure in 1986, massive extraction machines manufactured by the Marion and Bucyrus companies were responsible for removing overburden and stripping tons of coal from the site. The history of the Diplomat Mine Site thus encapsulates the transition in the province's mining industry from the predominance of underground mines in the early twentieth century to the growth of mass strip mining operations in the latter half of the century. After the mine was closed, portions of the site were reclaimed for agriculture.

Originally built in 1927, the Marion 360 shovel excavator was moved to the Diplomat Mine site from a mining operation in Pequot, Illinois, in 1950. At the time of its introduction in the 1920s, the Marion 360 was the largest mobile land machine in the world; when it arrived in Canada in 1950, it was the largest shovel in the country. Weighing several hundred tons, it is a massive instrument featuring a structure for housing the operators and machinery, a 27-metre boom, 17-metre dipper handle, and a shovel capacity of roughly seven cubic metres. Built in the period pre-dating the widespread use of welding technology, the Marion 360 features riveted construction and a host of innovative elements, including a levelling system of four hydraulic pistons at each corner of the lower frame. The Marion 360 was the sole strip mining machine at the site until 1962, when a Bucyrus 950-B Shovel was imported. The new machine had been erected in 1937 and represented at the time of its construction the largest excavator in the world. With a working weight of over 1,400 tons and a boom of 33 metres, the Bucyrus 950-B, nicknamed "Mr. Diplomat", was a wonder to behold. The excavator's massive scoop - known as the "Big Dipper" - had a capacity of roughly 25 cubic metres and is the only structure extant on site from the Bucyrus 950-B. Two years after the introduction of the Bucyrus 950-B Shovel, a smaller power shovel - the Bucyrus-Erie 120-B, built in 1944 - was also brought in to work at the mine. It is a smaller excavator with an 11-metre boom, a 8-metre dipper handle, and a shovel capacity of roughly 5 cubic metres. The Diplomat Mine Site is thus a strong representation of the evolution of strip mining technology between the 1920s and the 1940s. It also reflects the changes in the mining industry in Alberta between the early and the later twentieth century, recalling the emergence of large strip mining operations through the massive excavator equipment still on site.

Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch (File: Des. 1615)


Character-Defining Elements
The character-defining elements of the Diplomat Mine Site include such features as:

Site:
- sightlines to spoil piles;
- location on the site of a former strip mine.

Marion 360 revolving shovel excavator:
- mass, form, and scale, including structure for housing operators and machinery, 27-metre boom, 17-metre dipper handle, and a shovel capacity of roughly 7 cubic metres;
- riveted steel construction;
- hydraulic levelling system;
- Luscar Coals Limited colour scheme of white exterior with black, yellow and green striping and black undercarriage;
- original machinery, fittings, and fixtures;
- operator's chair;
- interior floor plan.

Bucyrus 950-B shovel dipper:
- mass, form, and scale, including bucket capacity of approximately 25 cubic metres.

Bucyrus-Erie 120-B shovel:
- mass, form, and scale, including 11-metre boom, 8-metre dipper handle, and shovel capacity of roughly 5 cubic metres;
- Luscar Coals Limited colour scheme of white exterior with black, yellow and green striping and black undercarriage;
- original machines, fixtures, and fittings;
- operator's chair;
- interior floor plan.


Location



Street Address:
Community: Forestburg, Near
Boundaries: Plan 922 3531, Lot 1
Contributing Resources: Structures: 3

ATS Legal Description:
Mer Rge Twp Sec LSD
4
16
41
2
16 (ptn.)

PBL Legal Description (Cadastral Reference):
Plan Block Lot Parcel
9223531

1


Latitude/Longitude:
Latitude Longitude CDT Datum Type
52.505075 -112.191158 GPS NAD 83

UTM Reference:
Northing Easting Zone CDT Datum Type

Recognition

Recognition Authority: Province of Alberta
Designation Status: Provincial Historic Resource
Date of Designation: 2007/07/16

Historical Information

Built:
Significant Date(s) N/A
Theme(s) Developing Economies : Extraction and Production
Historic Function(s): Industry : Natural Resource Extraction Facility or Site
Current Function(s): Leisure : Historic or Interpretive Site
Architect:
Builder:
Context: HERITAGE SIGNIFICANCE

The Marion 360 is one of the largest and oldest excavators in workable condition anywhere in the world. It's riveted design reflects an era before welding was introduced but nevertheless, the shovel was at the forefront of technology when built in 1927. The most notable feature is the hydraulic leveling system operating four large hydraulic pistons at each corner of the lower frame. When built, the Marion 360 was the largest excavator of any type in the world.

Provincially and locally, the Diplomat Surface Mine represents the history of a strong coal mining province. The underground mining of coal began in 1907 when the first homesteaders in the area opened mines all along this portion of the Battle River valley. Surface mining began in 1949, with the Canadian National Railway spur and tipple arriving in1950.

(Site Information Summary)

Additional Information

Object Number: 4665-0642
Designation File: Des. 1615
Related Listing(s):
Heritage Survey File: HS 81394
Website Link:
Data Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch, Old St. Stephen's College, 8820 - 112 Street, Edmonton, AB T6G 2P8 (File: Des. 1615)
Return to Search Results Printable Version



Freedom to Create. Spirit to Achieve.


Home    Search    Site Map    Contact Us    Login   Library Search

© 1995 - 2013 Government of Alberta    Copyright and Disclaimer    Privacy    Accessibility