MYNORTHWEST BLOG

Cedar Hills landfill ‘Mole’ may have inspired sandcrawlers in ‘Star Wars’

Dec 2, 2018, 1:11 AM
star wars sandcrawler...
The Mole at Cedar Hills. (Photo courtesy of King County)
(Photo courtesy of King County)

As you may have heard, single-use plastic bags are menacing communities throughout Washington, but they probably wouldn’t stand a chance against the Mole. Too bad it’s not around anymore.

Highlighted on a Reddit post by u/1ftinfrntoftheother, the Mole was an experimental mobile trash-compactor that may have been the inspiration for the Tatooine sandcrawlers in “Star Wars”. From the r/Seattle sub-Reddit:

TIL about King County’s experimental mobile trash-compactor, affectionately known as ‘The Mole.’ Sold at auction in the early 1970s, the Mole is rumored to have been purchased by George Lucas’s film company and to have served as the model and/or inspiration for the Star Wars Tatooine sandcrawlers.

Back in the 1960s, King County established the Cedar Hills Regional Landfill about 20 miles southeast of Seattle, in an effort to make advances in converting waste to renewable natural gas. They soon developed “The Mole,” a dystopian-looking 150-ton trash compactor that buried garbage as it crawled across the landfill.

Here’s how the giant, much less cute WALL-E worked: Refuse was dumped directly into a hopper, which accepted 100 cubic yards at a time. The hydraulic re-actuated piston exerted 200 pounds per square inch of pressure over its 7-by-7 foot face. This compressed the refuse under 1.5 millions pounds of thrust, and extruded it through the rear of the machine, 15 feet underground, where it was never seen again.

The squeeze is roughly equal to 20 bulldozers, or 12 fully loaded railroad box cars neatly piled on top of the other. “Now that’s a thrust,” the video presenting it says.

While the Mole was a pioneering early foray into efficiently handling waste, it was ultimately found to be ineffective in the soil of Cedar Hills, and was later sold at auction in the early 1970s. That’s where the fun, unsubstantiated rumors begin.

RELATED: Bill proposes statewide ban on single-use plastic bags

According to King County, numerous people believe the Mole was purchased by George Lucas’s film company, and became the inspiration for the giant sandcrawlers in the first “Star Wars” film. As hardcore “Star Wars” fans may recall, the Tatooine sandcrawlers also sucked in scrap waste, and occasionally droids.

It’s not a theory that’s been confirmed by Lucas or any of the droids involved in the film, no matter how much Washingtonians might want it to be true. The Mole could not be reached for comment.

Though the immense 1960s machine is now compacting garbage in the sky, the Cedar Hills landfill is still going strong, taking in refuse from nearly 70 percent of King County residents, and turning it into natural gas provided to upwards of 19,000 homes.

Both versions are below. Do you think we have a case?

TheMole

TheMole

MyNorthwest Blog

Seattle City Attorney race...
Nick Bowman

Newly-formed PAC with cast of familiar faces floods money into Seattle City Attorney race

A new PAC has already raised $280,000 in support of Seattle City Attorney candidate Ann Davison, with a cast of familiar faces working behind the scenes.
10 days ago
Seattle endorsements...
MyNorthwest Staff

Seattle election preview: Mayoral, city attorney candidates make their case

With Election Day just around the corner, we spoke to the Seattle mayoral and city attorney candidates for insight into each of their respective campaigns.
11 days ago
mayoral debates, seattle, mayor...
MyNorthwest Staff

Submit your questions for the Seattle Mayoral Debate

Lorena Gonzalez and Bruce Harrell will face off in two debates on Oct. 14 and Oct. What questions do you have for the candidates?
16 days ago
Seattle mayoral candidate Bruce Harrell...
Nick Bowman

Seattle mayoral candidate Bruce Harrell: City needs ‘sense of urgency’ to address homeless crisis

Seattle mayoral candidate Bruce Harrell lays out his plan to address Seattle's homeless crisis amid a hotly-contested election cycle.
17 days ago
Seattle City Council races...
Nick Bowman

Narratives for pair of Seattle council races paint dramatically different pictures

With election day less than a month away, the predominant narratives for both of Seattle's at-large council races are significantly different.
19 days ago
Seattle mayoral candidate Lorena Gonzalez...
Nick Bowman

Seattle mayoral candidate Lorena Gonzalez lays out plans for policing, homelessness, and income tax

Seattle mayoral candidate Lorena Gonzalez believes her more recent service in the city council gives her a leg up against her opponent, Bruce Harrell.
23 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Medicare open enrollment for 2022 starts Oct. 15 and SHIBA can help!

Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner SPONSORED — Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, also called the Annual Election Period, is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. During this time, people enrolled in Medicare can: Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa. Join, drop or switch a Part D prescription drug plan, […]
...

How to Have a Stress-Free Real Estate Experience

The real estate industry has adapted and sellers are taking full advantage of new real estate models. One of which is Every Door Real Estate.
...
IQ Air

How Poor Air Quality Is Affecting Our Future Athletes

You cannot control your child’s breathing environment 100% of the time, but you can make a huge impact.
...
Swedish Health Services

Special Coverage: National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

There are a wide variety of treatment options available for men with prostate cancer. The most technologically advanced treatment option in the Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform.
...
Marysville Police Department

Police Opportunities in a Growing, Supportive Washington Community

Marysville PD is looking for both lateral and entry level officers. Begin or continue your career in law enforcement for a growing, supportive community.
...
Comcast

Small, Minority-Owned Businesses in King County and Pierce County Can Now Apply For $10,000 Relief Grants Through Comcast RISE

Businesses in King County and Pierce County can apply beginning on October 1, 2021, at www.ComcastRISE.com for a chance to receive a $10,000 relief grant.
Cedar Hills landfill ‘Mole’ may have inspired sandcrawlers in ‘Star Wars’