The Last New Shovels?

Tom Berry, Contributing Editor | June 26, 2017
111-M shovel loads a Euclid 22-ton end-dump

The introduction of big articulated loaders, such as the 6-cubic yard Cat 988 in 1963 and the 10-cubic yard Hough H400 in 1964, marked the beginning of the end for large cable-operated power shovels used in general excavation work. Small shovels were already gone for the most part, but numerous shovels from 2.5 through 6 cubic yards were still in use, but on borrowed time. The Marion 111-M was one such shovel. Rated in the 4-to-5-cubic yard range, the 111-M was introduced in 1946, and 379 shovels, cranes, and draglines were produced until discontinuance in 1974.

Above: One of Nello Teer’s 111-M shovels loads a Euclid 22-ton end-dump during realignment of Constitution Boulevard in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, in 1955.

Nello L. Teer Co., a major highway-and- heavy contractor headquartered in Durham, N.C., was a major customer for the 111-M, buying a total of five new, plus a sixth second-hand. The last two were especially noteworthy, as they were among the last shovels purchased new for highway construction, ending a decades-long era. 

Teer subsidiary Central Engineering & Contracting Corp. had been awarded a contract to construct 1.2 miles of West Virginia Route 2 at Benwood on the Ohio River. The job featured 3.25 million cubic yards of excavation, largely in rock, from riverside bluffs. At $10.1 million, the contract was the largest awarded to date by the West Virginia State Road Commission.

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Rather than follow what was becoming the industry norm and use large wheel loaders, Teer instead ordered two 111-M shovels that were shipped in March/April 1966. Joined by a Cat 988 and two 977 crawler loaders, the 111-Ms loaded a fleet of 35-ton end dumps. Fourteen of the haulers, Euclid R35s, were also bought new for the job, along with two Cat D9G crawlers and four Cat 660 wheel tractors with 650 model 44-cubic yard (heaped) scrapers.

Besides the new shovels, the project was unusual in another regard. Less than 10 percent of all that excavated material was used in fills, leaving the rest for disposal off site. At the project’s south end, Teer installed a large impact crusher, and the resulting product was moved over the existing highway and a railroad yard by a 500-foot-long conveyor. The conveyor charged a hopper, and 10 Athey 38-cubic yard bottom-dump wagons drawn by Cat 630 tractors delivered the spoil to the disposal area. At the other end, haulers toted spoil up grades as steep as 22 percent to dump in a ravine overlooking the right of way.