Early Days Of The Internet #14609

Matted, canvas, & super high gloss prints available. Questions?

Stock art licensing available.


The Story

This is a genuine antique steam shovel that was in operation at a convention of heavy equipment enthusiasts. That kind of get together is usually called a power meet. As you can see, it’s an Erie Type B steam shovel from 1921. The steam is generated from burning coal in that big black upright boiler in the back. The ashes are in a pile right behind, just under the ash chute.

Back in the day, there would have also been a pile of coal beside this machine. Today, it’s kept in that matching plain blue barrel. There would have been a water supply of some sort too because steam engines take plenty of water to operate. There are wooden slat walls and a basic tin roof on this rudimentary steam shovel. Just a few decades later, these antique working machines became the diesel-powered metal-bodied cranes and shovels we’ve all seen.

Before any digging can take place, the operator has to literally fire this thing up. That means building a fire using tinder and coal, shaking the grates, and building up enough steam in the coal-fired boiler to make this steam shovel go. You can see the man on his knees working to get the fire built. Above the machine, some black smoke begins to rise.

Apparently, there was a bigger skill set than meets the eye for an old time steam shovel operator. Perhaps some of that skill set may have included a few choice cuss words.

Not surprisingly, there are only a few places where these antique machines can still be seen. I went through an old specialized junkyard with more cranes and shovels that yielded more pictures like Gotcha #14672 and Tin Can Alley #14776.

Just For Kicks

For a laugh, here is the alternate story that goes with the unusual picture title:

Back in the early days when the internet was young, engineering had to be done from scratch using the basic technology of the time. This has been true of many other technological advancements throughout history. Here, Zuckerburg himself is feeding coal into the boiler fire to get up enough steam to begin doing a little dirty work. Judging from some recent events pertaining to elections, misinformation, and king-making, that particular kind of work has apparently has become a little dirtier over time.

Find out more about this group of antique machinery enthusiasts: http://www.roughandtumble.org

Try this antique steam shovel picture as a digital jigsaw puzzle!

Location: Gap, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Picture and story ©Andrew Dierks

Up Next: