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Special Electric Mining Dredge -"Clarence B. Randall" and "Joseph L. Block II"

Owner - Construction Aggregates


Hull Size - length in feet 174'
Maximum Digging Depth 55'
Suction Pipe Size - ID 42"
Discharge Pipe Size - ID 36"
Dredge Pump Horsepower 10,000
Excavator Horsepower 1000
Total Installed Horsepower 12,000

After WW II, many steel companies began seeking new sources of iron ore because the high grade ore of the Mesabi Range was being worked out. Inland Steel Company, most of whose plants were in the Chicago area, became interested in iron ore deposits in Western Ontario, specifically the tremendous reserves at Steep Rock Lake near Atikokan, about 100 miles northwest of Port Arthur.

The area is characterized by numerous lakes, and the ore for the most part lay far below the surface. In fact the Steep Rock deposit was under an overburden of nearly 500 feet underneath the lake bottom. Accordingly, the project called for the removal of approximately 210,000,000 cubic yards of overburden. Fortunately the water level of the lake could be controlled so that dredges of normal digging depth could handle the work, the level of the lake being gradually lowered as the work progressed.

To carry out this mining program, Inland Steel formed a wholly-owned Canadian subsidiary named Caland Ore Company, which in turn contracted with Construction Aggregates Corporation, a well-known construction and dredging firm with headquarters in Chicago to carry out the dredging work.

Caland and Construction Aggregates selected Ellicott® to design and build two 36-inch dredges, each with 10,000 horsepower on the pump and four 10,000 horsepower booster stations, every-thing electric driven.

As in the project for the Quebec Hydro-Electric Commission, Ellicott® furnished the complete design for the dredges and boosters and furnished all of the dredging machinery; the hulls were built by the Port Arthur Shipbuilding Co., and the electrical equipment was furnished by Canadian General Electric. Since the location was entirely inland, the hulls were built in sections and shipped by rail from Port Arthur to Atikokan and thence to Falls Bay where they were assembled, the machinery installed, and the dredges launched.

Once delivered, the dredges worked 24 hours a day, year round, despite winter conditions that were as difficult as could be imagined, for five years. The Steep Rock project remains the largest dredge mining project in history!

On these major Canadian projects, the dredging, while a very large scope, was just a means to an end. The success of the final operations, in one case the largest hydro-electric plant then in the world, and in the other case the recovery of millions of tons of iron ore, depended entirely on the dredge, and the strongest influence which led to Ellicott® getting the order in each case was Ellicott®'s reputation for sound dredge engineering.

These were the most powerful dredges ever built, up to then and this was the sixth time in the history of the Company that Ellicott® had built what was then the most powerful dredge in the world, beginning with the dredge "Las Cruces" in 1928.

Heavy duty dredges operating year 'round in Canadian environment removing 210,000,000 cubic yards on the "initial" project. Both of these dredges are still in service today, with the "Clarence B. Randall" rechristened the "Florida" by Great Lakes, and still digging up to 15 million cubic yards per year, and is still the most powerful cutter suction dredge in North America today, almost 40 years later.

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