“Bagger 258 is a bucket wheel excavator, or “schaufelradbagger,” built by the heavy machinery company Lauchhammer. First put to use in East Germany in 1964, Bagger 258 was one of a series of such machines whose task was to assist in intensive mining operations.
This motorised excavator featured a total of 10 blades, cutting to a depth of 15m into the earth as it removed spoil from the layers of coal beneath. The buckets, each designed with a capacity of roughly 1,500m³, would also collect a thin layer of coal during the process. This was sifted mechanically and diverted to feed the machine’s coal-burning engines.
With a length of 171.5m and reaching a height of 50m, the 3850-tonne Bagger 258 rather resembles a factory; although this factory was mounted onto tank-like tracks and able to move at a speed of six metres per minute.
Bagger 258 was abandoned in 2002, for no better reason than that it had simply run out of things to dig. By this point the behemoth was showing its age, and the cost of dismantling it wasn’t justified by the tired mechanisms on offer. Instead the area around Bagger 258 was replanted, and redeveloped as a solar park.
These days, Bagger 258 stands desolate in a field in Germany. Its blue paint job – now chipped and fading – had once earned it the nickname, “Blue Wonder.”
Visited: January 2019
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