The "Captain"

Marion 6360

Photos contributed by:

 Tim Twichell

Thanks Tim, we all appreciate the chance to see this legendary machine in action.


Cover of the Arch of Illinois Feb/March 1985 newsletter

Used without permission, copyright Arch Minerals.

The Captain was a unique machine in many ways. Besides being the largest mobil land machine ever built ( at that time)28 million pounds..., and having the largest dipper capacity (180 CY), Many other features made this Marion shovel stand out. Features like being designed to strip two seams of coal simultaneously, or having enough clearance below it to allow loaders and haul truck to pass under it in safety (while it was operating.), or having two trailing cable reels, mounted on opposite sides of the machine... so it wouldn't have to turn around when it reached the end of the pit, and a host of others.


The Captain began it's working life in 1965 for Southwestern Illinois Coal Corp. at it's "Captain Mine" (hence the name) where itwas given the unique job of stripping two seams of coal simultaneously. The upper seam was about 50 feet above the lower one, And a machine was needed that could handle the job. Marion engineers went to work on the problem, and the captain was the result. As all shovels do, it walked directly upon the coal and stripped the seam in front of it, but this machine also stripped the upper seam at it's side ( the upper seam was nearly level with the operators cab). After making a pass, and the coal had been removed from both seams, the captain moved over and stripped the bench left from the upper seam down to the level of it's tracks. As the machine progressed, the overburden was placed in the pit left by the previous pass.

This view clearly shows the upper seam of coal being stripped along side the captain, as well as the seam it's walking on.

A Few of The Captains Specs


28 million pounds


21 stories tall

Dipper Capacity:


Dipper Length:

133 Feet

Boom Length:

215 Feet

Size of dipper opening:

18' 6" Wide X 16' High

Photo: Arch Minerals of Illinois

This gives you a real good idea of what it takes to support and move a BIG shovel. The wooden mats are to keep the shovel from sinking into soft or unstable soil.

More Pics of the captain