The Biggest Thing

On my 4.5 mile walk back from Fort Peck Dam to my campsite (correct, this place wasn’t built with pedestrians in mind – more on that later), I got to thinking about the single biggest human-created object I’ve ever seen. We can quickly get into a debate on definitions of ‘big’ and of ‘object’: is a city an object? The Great Wall of China? Do a lot of little objects make up something larger? Does big mean intricate, complicated?

On a restful Monday afternoon, over a few beers and a sunny, perfect day in Montana, I’ve decided this is the largest human-created object I’ve ever seen:

It’s hard to see but it’s there. The Fort Peck Dam. Lake on the right, the dam curves from the center, out to the right, then back to the left again. It’s the world’s largest hydrollically created dam, which I learned today means they dredged silt, sand and gravel from the river bottom to build it. The loaded all that slurry into a single massive pond, let all the water drain and let it dry out, rinse and repeat, layer upon layer until you have the dam. It’s 4 miles long and 1 mile wide at its base. It took 7 years to build, at its peak employed 10,000 workers making 50 cents per hour, killed 31 guys during contruction (an excellent safety record for its time), and cost what an average major league pitcher signs a contract for today: $84 million!

In my definition, this object was built to serve a single purpose, plus one big caveat is that you can see pretty much see the whole thing at once. That would disqualify the Great Wall (not counting from space – see I can qualify this however I want, this is my blog).

I’m trying to wrack my brain to think if I’ve ever seen anything bigger in my life. Have you? What would that be?


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