Special Collections: LeTourneau Tree Crusher

This massive machine was designed to quickly crush swaths of forest, because there wasn’t enough time to fell trees by traditional harvest methods as Williston Reservoir flood waters rose.

The LeTourneau G175 Tree Crusher was built in the early 1960s by the LeTourneau Company out of Longview, Texas. It was used experimentally in Louisiana before being shipped to Thurso, Quebec. It did a small amount of clear there and in November of 1964, along with 2 smaller crushers, came to Mackenzie, BC.

They were originally brought in as a clearing experiment for the Peace River Power Project. The experiment was not a total success as they were only able to clear about 19 square km. There were a lot of problems with the operation of the Crushers and the company that brought them to northern BC soon went bankrupt.

The LeTourneau G175 Tree Crusher was parked at Cut Thumb Creek north of town before it was moved into Mackenzie in October 1984. It weighs 175 tons and measures 56 ft long, 35 ft wide, and 21 ft tall. It was powered by two 700 Horsepower V12 Cummins Diesel engines. It was diesel electric, with an electric motor for steering.

During the attempted clearing of the valley before Williston Lake, the second method of clearing was dragging a cable between two cats using a huge steel ball as an anchor. The links were 2 1/2 inches thick and the steel ball is sitting now by the Worlds Largest Tree Crusher.

During the attempted clearing of the valley before Williston Lake, the second method of clearing was dragging a cable between two cats using a huge steel ball as an anchor.

The links were 2 1/2 inches thick and the steel ball is sitting now by the Worlds Largest Tree Crusher.

 

 

Our Collections and Exhibits

THE WORLD’S LARGEST TREE CRUSHER – Visit the LeTourneau Tree Crusher displayed on Mackenzie Blvd.

PHOTOGRAPHS – See photographs of W.A.C. Bennett dam construction (known as the Portage Mtn Dam at the time), and of the Parsnip, Finlay, and Peace River drainages before the flooding of Williston Reservoir.

VIDEO COLLECTIONS – See the world’s largest tree crusher in action as it prepares land for the flooding of Williston Reservoir. Sequence of 3 colour film segments: (a) 5 minute clip of the tree crusher in operation during winter (no sound), (b) 3 minute clip of the tree crusher in operation during summer, including aerial footage (no sound), (c) 18 minute clip of narrated promotional film describing how to operate various models of Letourneau tree crushers, as well as examples of where and why they are used.

 

Further Reading

  • For more Mackenzie & District Museum content related to Williston Reservoir, visit the ‘Our Stories’ page here (updated as we continue to develop our website).

Related Books:

 

 Places to visit

  • The World’s Largest Tree Crusher is displayed on Mackenzie Blvd, Mackenzie BC.