Big Muskie Bucket, Ohio - My Family Travels

This summer I learned there are many exciting, educational things to see in Ohio. I found something in my own “backyard” in Southeastern Ohio, The Big Muskie Bucket. 

Big Muskie was the largest ever walking dragline, and the biggest machine that ever moved on land. I was speechless when I stood inside it. I felt like an ant! 

Big Muskie was built because of the demand for coal for the Muskingum Power Plant. There are several kinds of coal, but the most common type in Ohio is bituminous coal, and that’s what Big Muskie scooped up, 325 tons with each bite. That’s more weight than a 2-story house. 

I tried to imagine this monstrous machine at work as I sat on a “tooth” of the bucket. Each tooth is 3 feet long and weighs 1,000 lbs. Once, an entire high school band stood inside it. 

Big Muskie was taken apart in 1999. The reasons for this were because by then more efficient ways of getting coal were used, and the Clean Air Act eliminated a lot of coal use. 

Now, the 10,000 acres of land that used to be mined by Big Muskie is an animal preserve for threatened and endangered animals, The Wilds. Just a few years ago where the earth was gouged up, people can see rare animals, hike, bike, fish, and camp in this beautiful area of Ohio. And a little bit of Big Muskie still watches over it all. 

Rachel Smith is a 9-year-old from McConnelsville, Ohio. This story was the 2001 First Place winner in the Elementary (K-5) Division of the Great Ohio Adventures in Learning (GOAL) essay writing contest on the subject of “What I Learned this Summer.”  Sponsored by the Ohio Department of Development’s Division of Travel and Tourism, it was first published on

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