Abandoned Bucket-Wheel Excavator: Behold the Earth Moving Monster

the-abandoned-bucket-wheel-excavator-known-as-the-earth-moving-monster (Image: Bas van der Poel – Maestro Photography)

It’s one of the most amazing pieces of abandoned machinery we’ve ever featured on Urban Ghosts. There have been some impressive ones too, from mothballed Soviet space shuttles from the Buran programme to massive B-52 bombers, giant haul trucks, Raketas and other mega machines. The epic bucket-wheel excavator (BWE) was designed for continuous digging in huge open-cast mining operations. And while there may be other abandoned bucket-wheel excavators lying around, this particular example has become a popular subject for urban and rural explorers photographing industrial ruins.

the-abandoned-bucket-wheel-excavator-known-as-the-earth-moving-monster-2 (Image: Bas van der Poel – Maestro Photography)

Giant BWEs have been mining open-cast pits for almost a century. The earliest models date back to the 1920s and – along with other serious contenders like NASA’s crawler-transporters – remain among the largest vehicles ever built. They’re differentiated from bucket chain excavators and other giant mining machines by a large wheel consisting of multiple buckets that scoop away the dirt and gravel on a continuous basis. No wonder this abandoned bucket-wheel excavator is known to urban explorers and industrial enthusiasts as the ‘Earth Moving Monster’.

The largest BWE manufactured to date, the Bagger 293, was built in the 1990s by German company TAKRAF. But even the smaller ones are vast in their scale, giant industrial behemoths that dominate their surrounding landscapes. In the 1950s, when a couple of German firms ordered the world’s then-largest BWEs for a lignite mining project near Cologne, Popular Mechanics described the 656-foot-long machines as “more awesome and powerful than any of the dragons of mythology.”

the-abandoned-bucket-wheel-excavator-known-as-the-earth-moving-monster-3 (Image: Bas van der Poel – Maestro Photography)

According to urban explorer Bas van der Poel, the abandoned bucket-wheel excavator pictured in this article was built on site during the 1960s and is around 550-feet-long and 164-feet high. It’s buckets are understood to have been able to reach of depth of 50 feet into the earth to meet the coal seams.

Bas adds that by the early 2000s coal supplies at the site had begun to dwindle and it was decided to close the mine down. Due to the vast scale of the BWE, the expense of dismantling it was spared and the ageing behemoth, its parts worn through decades of hard work, was deserted. Left for nature to take its course, the abandoned earth moving monster makes for an epic sight as it slowly rusts away.

Keep Reading: Rotting Wind Tunnel Model from the Abandoned Buran Space Programme

 
 


 
 
 

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