Canada’s Only Surface Coal Mining Museum – The Diplomat Mine Interpretive Site.

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Look around you… Hard to believe that millions of years ago this area was a lush subtropical forest, but the petrified tree stump unearthed at Paintearth Mine gives you an inkling. That rich foliage as it decomposed and was compressed under layer upon layer of other materials formed the plentiful coal deposits in this part of Alberta. In the early 1900s, area homesteaders first began digging small underground mines into the banks of the Battle River to access these deposits. Coal cars like the rebuilt model on the site hauled coal out of the mines. The large machines here made their debut at Diplomat Mine when the transition was made to surface mining in the late 1940’s. Today mining continues south of the Battle River with drag lines that can be used to mine much deeper coal than shovel excavations like the Marion.

Follow the walking trail to the observation deck to view Paintearth Mine and the Battle River Generating Station. It is also a good spot to view today’s land that was reclaimed in the 1950s.

The Marion 360

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In 1927, the impressive Marion was the world’s largest mobile land machine. Marion is made entirely riveted construction. This feature of engineering was designed in the early 1920s before the era of welding. It was used to strip away the overburden. The layers of soil and other materials on top of the coal.

The Marion 360 Shovel is a Registred Historical Resource unde the Historical Resources Act of Alberta. This is the first designation ever awared to a peice of mobile equiptment.

Weight: 500 tonnes
Height to the top: 25.0 m
Boom Length: 27.5m
Dipper Handle Length: 17.1m
Dumping Radius (max): 30.0m
Dipper Capacity: 7.0m3

The Buckyrus-Erie 120-B

120-b1The Buckyrus-Erie 120-B shovel loaded coal at a rate of 15 tonnes per minute. You can also take your picture inside the Big Dipper, the last remaining artifact from the much larger shovel “Mr Diplomat”. This bucket holds 23 cubic meters of material.

Weight: 160 tonnes
Boom Length: 11.0m
Dipper Handle Length: 7.0m
Dumping Radius (max): 12.2m
Dipper Capacity: 6.2m3

The Diplomat Mine was operated by Forestburg Collieries Ltd., a division of Luscar Ltd., from 1949 to 1986, following closure of the mine. The company donated the equipment and site to the Diplomat Mine Museum Society to preserve the equipment for the enjoyment of future generations. Owen Saboe, retired Diplomat Mine Manager, and Mining Engineer Keith Haddock were instrumental in developing the site. Without their contributions and those many volunteers, these unique machines would have been cut up for scrap metal. To assist with ongoing maintenance and improvements at the site, donations of time and or funds are always appreciated.

The site includes:

  • Visitors gazebo
  • Picnic tables
  • Washrooms
  • Ample parking
  • Admission by donation
  • Mini excavators for kids to try out in the sand box

For more information on the Diplomat Mine Interpretive Site:
Diplomat Mine Museum Society
c/o The Village of Forestburg
Box 210, Forestburg, AB, T0B 1N0

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