Early Days Of The Internet #14609

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The Story

This is a genuine antique steam shovel that was in operation at a convention of heavy equipment enthusiasts that is usually called a “power meet”. As you can see, it’s an Erie Type B from 1921 and the steam is generated from burning coal using 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 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 do take plenty of water to operate. There are wood slat walls and a basic tin roof on this rudimentary steam shovel, much different from the diesel powered metal bodied cranes and shovels just a few decades later.

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 of  a head of steam in the coal fired boiler to make this shovel go. You can see the man on his knees working to get the fire built. Apparently, there was a bigger skill set than meets the eye for a steam shovel operator. Some of that skill set may have included a few choice cuss words.

Here is the alternate tongue in cheek image description that goes with the unusual image title:

Back in the early days when the internet was young, the engineering had to be done from scratch using the basic technology of the time just like many other 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 and king-making, that work has apparently has become a little dirtier over time.

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

Photo and story ©Andrew Dierks

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