William Otis and the Steam Shovel

Related to the famous Elisha Otis, William Otis’ steam shovel was at least as important as his cousin’s invention.

A drawing showing the operation of an early steam shovel. The steam shovel was controlled by two men: the engine man and cranes man. The former was stationed near the engine, the latter on a small platform attached to the boom. The engine man controlled the movements for raising and lowering the dipper, swinging it into position for digging and unloading, and moving the machine forward or backward. The cranes man regulated the “crowd,” or depth of the cut made by the dipper, moved it back from the bank when full, and pulled the spring latch of the bottom door of the dipper when in position for unloading, thereby dumping its contents. There were also firemen and several ground men.
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