Saturday, June 12, 2010

How to Landscape Your Driveway and Find 8 Tons of Steam Boiler

This photograph shows a partially landscaped driveway. Messy, but a work in progress. We have a lot of telephone poles in the woods (nobody knows why) and a lot of day lilies. So John dragged the poles out of the woods to line one side of the driveway and then we planted the lilies behind the new edge. We had all but one pole in place.
One week before the wedding, I decided I wanted the last pole in place and the last of the lilies planted, so John fired up the tractor to do the job. This should have been a 15 minute job — dig a small trench, haul in the pole, shovel the dirt back in to secure the pole and then I could plant.
It didn’t work out like that.

Our first clue that something wrong was under the earth.
John knew that the H. B. Smith Company made steam boilers. Huge ones. He became worried about what he would find.

The little trench needed for the telephone pole edging was growing bigger.
One of the first sections of the steam boiler to be uncovered.
And more pieces were pulled out from underneath.
Above, I like the movement of the earth as it falls off of this huge pipe as it is being pulled out from under the driveway.

Above: John explained the function of each piece as he pulled them out. But, of course, I have forgotten now.

Above: This piece was so close to the top of the soil that grass grew on it. John said it explained the hard bump he felt whenever he drove his truck over this area. If he had not excavated the steam boiler, the winter freezes would have gradually pushed more of the boiler up and made it hazardous.

Above and below: representative other sections of the boiler. Each of the knobs on the long pipe was attached to more pipe to a radiator in a room. There were many of these knobby pipes, so we know that this boiler came from a big building like a school.

Above: Ironically, the face plate was one of the last sections to be pulled out of the depths of the driveway. This steam boiler created at least one billion BTUs of heat!

Above: the final pile of what John excavated from the ten foot pit he had to dig in the driveway. It was about 8 tons (16,000 lbs or 7,257 kg) of scrap cast iron.

Above: The scrap metal dealer showed up about a week later with a huge truck to haul it away. It took two trips.

Above: The last load is ready to go.


  1. What a great sequence. What you find when you did a little!

  2. What an amazing treasure to find. I hope the scrap company paid you fairly for the 8 tons of metal recycling. Really unbelievable.


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