The natural resources collections offer centuries of evidence about how Americans have used the bounty of the American continent and coastal waters. Artifacts related to flood control, dam construction, and irrigation illustrate the nation's attempts to manage the natural world. Oil-drilling, iron-mining, and steel-making artifacts show the connection between natural resources and industrial strength.
Forestry is represented by saws, axes, a smokejumper's suit, and many other objects. Hooks, nets, and other gear from New England fisheries of the late 1800s are among the fishing artifacts, as well as more recent acquisitions from the Pacific Northwest and Chesapeake Bay. Whaling artifacts include harpoons, lances, scrimshaw etchings in whalebone, and several paintings of a whaler's work at sea. The modern environmental movement has contributed buttons and other protest artifacts on issues from scenic rivers to biodiversity.
- In 1960, the Bucyrus-Erie Company of South Milwaukee, Wisconsin, presented this 14-inch-high, scale model of what was to become the world's largest stripping shovel to President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Later that year, the President transferred this gift to the Smithsonian Institution. The Bucyrus-Erie Company had custom-designed this monster machine for the Peabody Coal Company. Bucyrus-Erie engineers anticipated that they would need two years to manufacture the behemoth, and an additional six months to assemble it at the site of the open-pit mine. (They planned to ship the machine's parts in over 250 railcars.) When finished, the shovel would weigh 7,000 tons, soar to the roofline of a 20-story building (some 220 feet high), and be able to extend its enormous 115-cubic-yard dipper over 460 feet, or about the length of an average city block. (The dipper's capacity would equal that of about six stand-sized dump trucks.) Fifty electric motors-ranging from 1/4 to 3,000 horsepower-would power the shovel, which was designed to be controlled by a single operator, perched in a cab five stories high. Publicists for Bucyrus-Erie called this the "largest self-powered mobile land vehicle ever built."
- Currently not on view
- date made
- Eisenhower, Dwight D.
- Bucyrus-Erie Company
- ID Number
- catalog number
- accession number
- Data Source
- National Museum of American History