The Exhumation of the Rockies

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With the Exhumation of the Rockies, nature, in the form of wind and water, worked its way down toward this coal. By the middle nineteen-seventies, nature had removed a mile of overburden, and had only sixty feet to go. At that point, something called the Marion 8200, an eight-millionpound landship also known as a walking dragline, took over the job. The machine was so big it had to be assembled on the site-a procedure that required fourteen months. Now working within a mile or two of the generating plant, it could swing its four-chord deep-section boom and touch any spot in six acres, its bucket biting, typically, a hundred tons of rock, and dumping it to one side. The zakelijke energie 8200 had dug a box canyon, its walls of solid coal about thirty feet thick. The inside of the machine was painted Navy gray, and had non-skid deck surfaces, thick steel bulkheads, handrails, and oval doors that looked watertight. They led from compartment to compartment, and eventually into the air-conditioned sanctum of Centralized Power Control, where, lined up in ranks, were electric motors. The foremost irony of this machine was that it was far too large and powerful to operate on diesel engines. Although the chassis was nine stories high, it could not begin to contain enough diesels to make the machine work. Only electric motors are compact enough. Out the back of the machine, like the tail of a four-thousand-ton rat, ran a huge black cable, through zakelijke energie vergelijken gully and gulch, over hill and draw, to the generating plant-whose No. i customer was the big machine. Once every couple of hours, the 8200 walked-raised itself up on its pontoonlike shoes and awkwardly lurched backward seven feet, so traumatically compressing the dirt it landed on that smoke squirted out the sides and the ground became instant slate. This machine-with its crowned splines, its precise driveline mating, its shop-lapped helical gears, its ball-swivel mounting of the boompoint sheaves, its anti-tightline devices and walking-shoe position indicators-had unsurprisingly attracted the attention of Russian engineers, who came in a large committee to see Jim Bridger, because they were about to build twenty-five similar generating stations in one relatively concentrated area of Siberia, which, they confided, closely resembled Sweetwater County, Wyoming.

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