Effort to save giant--make that gigantic--mining shovel for museum fails

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PITTSBURGH -- The world's last operating stripping shovel will be sold for scrap after a group of citizens and public officials failed to raise enough money to preserve the massive machine for a coal mining heritage museum.

The Silver Spade, taller than a 12-story building, was capable of digging 155 tons in one bite and had a top speed of one-quarter mile per hour.

The 7,000-ton Silver Spade has sat dormant in rural Harrison County near Cadiz since April, after its rotating base was disabled. When the machinery's owner, Upper St. Clair-based Consol Energy Inc., decided it was too costly to repair, the Harrison Coal and Reclamation Historical Park began a fund-raising campaign to save the Silver Spade.

The group hoped to raise $800,000 to cover the estimated salvage cost of the metal from the Silver Spade, but raised only a fraction of the goal. The bigger issue apparently was the prohibitive cost of reclaiming the land under the Silver Spade if the machinery remained intact and the area was used for the outdoor mining museum...Consol estimated the cost at $1.7 million.

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