The mining town of West Mineral, Kansas is big on their heritage, 160 feet and 11 million pounds big as a matter of fact. It is home to both the world’s largest electric shovel and the world’s smallest working replica of a circa 1930’s electric shovel.
Brief History of Coal Mining
Coal mining has been going on in the United States for centuries and it could quite possibly go on for many decades more. Purportedly there is still over one billion tons of coal mined in the United States alone each year.
From its’ humble man powered beginnings the coal mining industry has seen many inventions and machinery come and go throughout the years, including electric shovels.
“Big Brutus”, once a working piece of machinery, is now at the center of a museum and visitors center that highlights the mining heritage of Kansas and beyond.
“Big Brutus” is a 1962 Bucyrus Erie Model 18508 electric shovel that was used to mine coal in Kansas for many years.
Brutus stands 16 stories high and weighs a whopping 11 million pounds. Always considered a powerful guy, his 150 foot boom and dipper use to work together to lift three train cars worth of coal with one impressive swoop.
As a matter of fact, Brutus’s girth is so impressive that he was designated a Regional Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark back in the 1970’s.
Today “Big Brutus” is in need of a face lift. “Big Brutus, Inc.”, the non-profit organization that maintains the “Big Brutus Museum and Visitors Center” would like to give him one however they will need a little assistance with that.
The primary area of cosmetic concern is paint. The last time “Big Brutus” saw any was in 1984. The museum staff estimates that it will take 900 gallons of Omaha Orange, 300 gallons of black, and several hundred gallons of Vista green and white to completely paint “Big Brutus” both inside and out.
Those interested in helping with or paying for “Big Brutus’s” face lift should contact the staff of “Big Brutus, Inc.” at 620-827-6177.
Weighing a mere 700 pound, “Little Giant” is quite svelte and petite next to “Big Brutus.” The “Little Giant” took a devoted hobbyist 11 years to assemble and contains a staggering 30,000 rivets and 2,000 bolts.
The “Little Giant” is just one part of the museum’s many exhibits.
Additional Museum and Visitor’s Center Features
The “Big Brutus Museum and Visitor’s Center” also offers primitive and RV camping sites, gift shop, dump station, picnic area and covered pavilion for special event and large groups.
The facility does host several special events throughout the year, a list of which is provided on the “Big Brutus” website.
Ina addition there are stocked strip mining pits for bass fishing as well as horseback riding trails in the adjacent 15,000 square foot Mined Land Wildlife Area.”
Hours of Operation and Admission
The “Big Brutus Museum and Visitors Center” is open year round except for Thanksgiving and Christmas day. Hours of operation vary so it is best to call in advance of one’s trip.
As of 2010 admission to the museum is $8.00 per adult and $5.00 per child between the ages of 6 through 12. Children ages 5 and under are admitted for free.
Those RV users who would like to take advantage of the facility’s 10 water and electric hook up sites may do so for a $15.00 per RV per night fee.
Big Brutus Visitors Center
6509 Northwest 60th Street
West Mineral, Kansas 66782
Those who would like to learn more about the state’s coal mining history should log onto the Kansas tourism website.