We’ve read the dimensions of the very biggest rigs repeatedly: up to 227 feet long, 27 feet high and 29 feet wide, and seen the 300-ton weight as well.

Some of the loads will be smaller, so you can adjust the comparisons made below.

One day last week, the Missoulian searched the Internet to try to put into context the dimensions of the controversial big-rig shipments of oilfield and refinery equipment that want to roll through Idaho and Montana.

The height is the easy part. We’re talking three stories tall. The width is about the same, so just picture a three-story house on its side, and add a couple of feet.

Length is another matter. The big rigs are exactly as long as was the British ship HMS Victory, but unless you served in the Royal Navy in 1765, that probably doesn’t help much.

So let’s go with commercial aircraft.

The massive loads are significantly longer than any of the commercial jets that regularly carry passengers into Missoula International Airport. But there are bigger planes that can give you an idea.

At 218 feet long, Howard Hughes’ behemoth Spruce Goose is a few feet shorter than a big-rig shipment.

At 238 feet, the double-decker, wide-bodied Airbus A380 is a few feet longer.

If you’re not familiar with that, subtract 23 feet from the 250-foot-long Boeing 747, and you’ve got a big rig.

It’ll be easier to imagine if you were in Washington-Grizzly Stadium on Saturday for Montana’s game against North Dakota.

Simply put, a big rig will be the same as a 76-yard-long (albeit, three-story-tall) touchdown drive. In other words, one would stretch from the Grizzlies’ goal line to the opponent’s 24-yard-line.

While a big rig would cover both hash marks on an NFL field, it wouldn’t on a college surface, where there are 40 feet between the marks.

They will, as you’ve probably read, take up both lanes of a two-lane highway.

And now, the 300-ton part. That’s 600,000 pounds, the exact weight of the world’s largest optical and infrared telescope, located at the W.M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii.

Or, it’s the equivalent of:

  • 1 1/2 blue whales, the heaviest animal on Earth.
  • Six Boeing 727s (minus passengers and fuel).
  • 25 African bush elephants, the largest existing land animal.
  • 60 hippopotamuses.
  • 3,000 St. Bernards.
  • 150,000 Chihuahuas.

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