From Ohio History Central
The Marion Steam Shovel Company was founded in 1884 in Marion, Ohio. The company built steam shovels. Business boomed during the late nineteenth century, as railroad construction occurred in the American and Canadian West. With the United States’ acquisition of the Panama Canal Zone in 1903, the federal government turned to the Marion Steam Shovel Company to provide the steam shovels necessary for the canal’s construction. Marion became known as the “city that built the Panama Canal,” thanks to the Marion Steam Shovel Company.
The Marion Steam Shovel Company continued to prosper during the 1920s and the 1930s. During the 1920s, the company manufactured the largest shovel to exist up to that point in time. At this time, as steam power became less popular, the Marion Steam Shovel Company changed its name to the Marion Power Shovel Company. During the 1930s, the firm manufactured an even larger steam shovel. This one weighed approximately three million pounds and took forty-six railroad freight cars to ship the shovel to its destination point. During the twentieth century, the Marion Steam Shovel Company’s shovels were used primarily for road building and strip mining. Its shovels were also used to build the Hoover Dam and the Holland Tunnel.
The Marion Power Shovel Company also assisted the United States in the exploration of outer space. The company manufactured the transporters used to carry the Apollo rockets to the launch pad. The various Space Shuttles continue to use the haulers today to travel to the launch pad.
In 2003, a Wisconsin company purchased the Marion Power Shovel Company. At its peak, the Marion Power Shovel Company employed 2,500 workers, but as of 2003, the firm had only three hundred employees.
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