We're starting to get the feeling that every engineer's life goal is to make something really fucking huge. All the jaw-dropping objects on this list are surely quite useful, and some of them might even need to be this gigantic to do their jobs. But we think that mainly somebody just wanted to see how big they could make them:
#5. The Massive Ship That Carries Other Massive Ships
Here's a prime example: We suspect this giant ship that is carrying a bunch of other giant ships is the result of a drunken bet between millionaires who wanted to see just how many boats they could pile on top of each other without sinking them.
Rich man's Jenga isn't for pussies.
Actually, this is the MV Blue Marlin, a "heavy lift ship" with a deck as long as two football fields, designed to transport all sorts of enormous objects over water -- not just other ships but entire gas refineries and ... whatever the hell this is.
If you're still having trouble getting a sense of scale of this thing, let's look at it compared to a Navy warship. After the USS Cole was bombed in 2000, the hole in it made it unable to sail. The Marlin stepped in and was able to ship the whole destroyer back to the naval yard for repairs, and it looked like it had room to carry two more of them:
NHHC Photograph Collection
They removed the giant red pegs first to make it easier to load.
But what if you need to need to lift something even bigger? Like, say, an oil rig? That's when you bring in The Claw:
Pronounced "The Cllaaaaaaawwwwww."
Designed by the American Versabar corporation, this immense device that they call The Bottom Feeder or simply The Claw is designed to retrieve immense objects from the ocean floor. To get some idea of how huge this contraption is, you can zoom in to the high-resolution image to see the tiny little people working on it:
Offshore Technology Conference
"You need a masters in vending machine engineering to work this rig."
Apparently, oil rigs getting knocked over by hurricanes is a considerable problem -- ironically partly due to climate changes caused by the oil industry. Since it's the responsibility of oil barons to retrieve their own sunken rigs from the sea floor, Versabar engineered a 122-foot tall grappling device that can reach deep into the ocean to retrieve the oil industry's immense assets.
Not as immense as the claw, but they're immense, trust us.
Versabar's claw can lift up to 10,000 tons, which is about 10 times what your average oil platform weighs, but it's there in case they ever need to lift, like, Cthulhu or something.
#4. Old-Timey Lumber Operations Were Insane
This is either the world's biggest game of Jenga, or else it's the Seattle Cedar Mill, circa 1919. After cutting logs into planks, wood mills would stack the wood like this to dry it out for up to nine months, because that's just how wet and depressing it is in Seattle.
"We'd also rent them out as noose holders."
Of course, to an amateur like yourself, this probably looks like an incredibly dangerous and/or insane way to stack wood. And you're right! In 1958, a single errant spark ignited the stacks in the mill and destroyed the whole lumber yard. The fire was so intense that hot up-currents of air carried 5-foot-long pieces of burning wood throughout the city, raining massive fiery chunks of death like the apocalyptic wrath of a vengeful god.
Another way to store all that excess timber that lumberjacks were frantically cutting down in those days was to use it to build ad-hoc railway bridges like this one located near Columbia City, Oregon:
John Fletcher Ford
Made of 90 percent air!
The purpose of this bridge was to allow trains access to collect more logs. Holy shit, it was like a dick-measuring contest where the loser was nature.
And while it's striking to see that much lumber stacked haphazardly like that, some of these logs are pretty impressive on their own:
Humboldt State University Library
"Hey, Johnny! Check this out! Johnny? Johnny?"
Back before "environmentalism" was a word in the English vocabulary, people used to look at the giant redwood trees of California and see only dollar signs. These are the largest trees in the world by trunk diameter, so before the days of heavy industry, they had to be cut down by hand. Imagine that little guy hacking away at this mighty redwood with an axe. You'd be proud, too.
Humboldt State University Library
"We brought down more hardwood than your grandmother."
The logged trees of course had to be transported to the lumber yards, so they were hauled somehow onto a train that actually appears dwarfed by the immense logs it's carting away:
via Log Home Directory
We suddenly want tootsie rolls.
#3. Skyscrapers of the Sea
This one might not seem so spectacular until you realize that the things that look like people lying on beach towels are actually cars. This is a photograph of part of the Bullwinkle drilling rig being towed out to the Gulf of Mexico in 1988. Here's what it looks like dwarfing some houses:
It's Louisiana; the people in those houses are used to seeing weird shit.
Or to put things in a little more perspective, it's basically the Empire State Building that they're towing out there, lying on its side, looming over all of the huge ships that look like squirrels in comparison. That's the kind of structure it takes if you want to suck oil from under the ocean floor:
Not Pictured: The Peter North.
But really, everything about oil and gas platforms is insane -- they seem to be intentionally designed to be terrifying for the people working on them, just to make sure they filter all but the craziest of employees for the task. Check out this huge building just chilling on top of one massive concrete pillar.
John Downes/Moment/Getty Images
Cloud City after the icecaps melt.
That's the Draugen oil field platform, an oil rig set up in 1993 by the Norwegians to harvest that black gold somebody put under their ocean floor. With the constant threat of giant waves, stormy weather, icebergs, and killer whales, the Norwegians figured the best way to protect their investment was to build a huge concrete pylon up from the ocean floor and balance the rig on top, which also makes it the best place to hide during a zombie invasion.
Sadly, not a Left 4 Dead mod.
To get a sense of scale, take a look at the three-story apartment they put on it so that the workers had a place to hang up their pants:
So this is how The Jetsons begins ...
All of that, balanced precariously on a single concrete column, with the roaring fury of the ocean crashing into it 24 hours a day.