Anyone who’s ever put a shovel in the dirt of North Springfield knows there’s a lot of it — tough rock. Mean rock. 11 years ago today a bulldozer driver found out just how mean …
A squadron of big, tough Caterpillar D11 bulldozers occupied the airport that morning. They moved dirt and rock for construction of the new terminal.
Lots of back and forth between the contractors: “Can we bulldoze that rock or will we have to use dynamite?”
The earth moving contractor put money on the Cats. That’s because some of them had what’s known as an “impact ripper.” It’s basically a bit steel tooth that hangs off the back of the bulldozer. It rips rock out of the ground.
The sun got higher and the Cats were hard at it. One of them pulled up in front of the camera and stopped. The driver pushed a lever and the big ripper sank into the ground.
Then he stomped on the gas. The Cat belched black smoke, groaned, and groaned some more. Stuck — the Cat couldn’t move — the rock would not relent.
The driver stomped some more. Suddenly a loud, high pitched “BOING” filled the air. The Cat lurched forward.
To our amazement that high priced tempered steel tooth had snapped in two — most of it was still in the ground — exactly where the Cat driver had put it.
Within a few days the smell of dynamite filled the air.
Never did hear what happened to the tooth. Did the insurance company want it for inspection? Perhaps the manufacturer wanted to analyze it?
Or maybe it’s still out there — under the north end of the terminal ramp — buried under the dirt and rock.