Used to lift molten iron to molds where it was cast into pipe, jib cranes were the sole means of conveyance in the pit-casting process. When pit casting was replaced by centrifugal casting in the 1920s, many pits were filled and the cranes were used to produce cast iron fittings or general maintenance work. Only one jib crane remained at the American Cast Iron Pipe Company in recent years, and it was probably the last pit-cast jib crane to operate, which it did until it was given to the Sloss Furnace Museum in early 1986.
Materials Handling & Excavation
During the post-Civil War era, efforts to cultivate the land for higher crop yields resulted in the digging of thousands of miles of ditches to improve land drainage. Accurately graded ditches were needed for open drainage, pipeline trenches and placement of underground agricultural drainage tile. Teams of skilled workers laid out the direction and gradient of a ditch and dug it out with pick and shovel. The Black Swamp area, where Lake Erie drains into northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan, was the center of much of the U.S. ditching activity.
Built by the Bay City Dredge Works of Bay City, Michigan, this dredge was used to construct a portion of US 41 called the Tamiami Trail, which connected Tampa with Miami through the Everglades and Big Cypress Swamp. The last remaining display of walking dredges (of some 145 walking machines), it has a unique propulsion design enabling the dredge to cope with drainage problems in a wetlands environment.
The DWP was the first mechanized, compact service-line trencher developed for laying underground water lines between the street-main and the house. This machine, first produced in 1949, replaced manual digging, thus making installation of running water and indoor plumbing affordable for the common household. The DWP paved the way for the creation of a worldwide trenching-products industry, its machines used for the installation of all underground utilities including telephone, cable-TV and data, and fiber-optic cables.