After the Wixom Lake dam failed in May 2020, one thing that came into view was a Thew steam shovel. The shovel was used in the early 1920s to help build the levy and became stuck at the end of the job in 1925 and could not be removed when the water got to high. The shovel sat underwater for 95 years. In 1975 Mike (Fixie) Oberloier’s late father Moose Oberloier found out about it and got ownership from the son of the late owner in hopes of removing and restoring it. However, the murky water and arranging barges to remove it were insurmountable, and the project was dropped.
After 45 years, when the water left the lake, there sat the shovel covered in Zebra mussels. Fixie and his brother Bill went down to see it and close a chapter in their late fathers life. After a TV and newspaper interview, Fixie was contacted by Bob Kelly from Pennsylvania whom was the owner of the only other remaining Type O shovel. Fixie’s first thought was to give him the shovel. After thinking about it, he decided so many people in the area knew about it and never saw it that he would keep it here for everyone to see. On September 26th 2020, Fixie along with several volunteers removed the boiler, steam motors, and water tank. Later on October 24th, with many volunteers and heavy equipment, the remainder of the shovel was removed.
The shovel is actively being restored.
If you’d like to contribute to this project or get in contact with Fixie, please use the form below.