It was one of Flin Flon’s original building blocks, a tall, mean, 60-ton electric shovelling machine, used to dig out the city’s biggest project to date in its time – the original open pit. It was the Marion 4160 electric shovel and it, perhaps more than any other piece of the mine, was responsible for mining in Flin Flon as it is today.
Electric-powered and mounted on tank-like tracks, the Marion shovel was a machine designed to do the work of dozens of labourers of minimal effort. The shovel was built by the Marion Power Shovel Company out of Marion, Ohio and was a large, tractor-like vehicle with a large arm extending up over the tracks. A pulley, cord and gear system was used to power a giant scoop up and down.
Marion shovels were used in many 20th century projects that required moving large amounts of earth, fast – the Panama Canal was built using over a hundred Marion shovels.
The Klondike Gold dredges at Dawson City, Yukon were built with Marions. One of the world’s largest mines, the Magnitogorsk iron ore mine in the Soviet Union, was built using Marion shovels.
When it came time to build an open pit in Flin Flon in the late 1920s, the Marion shovel was the way to go. The first shovels arrived in town in 1929. Different types of Marion devices, big and small, were used in Flin Flon.