By Don Lowe
There’s something gigantic worth seeing in West Mineral, Kansas, and this might just be the perfect time to check it out, especially since Big Brutus is celebrating its 60th birthday in 2023.
Cindy Morris, who serves as general manager/executive director at Big Brutus, Inc., says a specific 60th celebration event this past May “brought in more than 1,100 visitors who enjoyed activities for kids that included bounce houses, kiddie train rides and a visit from KC Wolf and Gus Gorilla. Everyone enjoyed food trucks, live music and tons of fun.”
At bigbrutus.org, visitors are encouraged to “discover the story of the largest electric shovel in the world” by visiting this monument to mining history.
Morris says the museum “was able to save this impressive piece of history and preserve the coal mining industry.”
The website describes this mammoth mechanism as standing 16 stories tall and weighing 11 million pounds while indicating it represented the peak of mining technology during its era.
Other features of this magnificent masterpiece include a 150-foot boom and a dipper capacity of 90 cubic yards (enough to fill three railroad cars). Its maximum speed of .22 mph and cost of $6.5 million in 1962 reflected the enormous investment in industrial machinery that defined the mid-20th century.
The shovel on Big Brutus was designed to dig from 20 to 69 feet down and unearth relatively shallow coal seams, which would themselves then be mined with smaller equipment.
People come from far and wide to tour this incredible invention and timely tool from a bygone timeframe. Morris says, “Big Brutus, Inc., is a family-friendly atmosphere. Visitors enjoy the opportunity to get to see and go inside this massive machine and see how coal was removed from the earth.”
Morris recognizes it is vital to keep this history alive and strong. “Being placed on the National Register of Historic Places by the United States Department of Interior made us realize Big Brutus is very important to so many people.”
There are quite a few folks who are hands on with upkeep and helping to promote the museum. Morris says, “We currently have a staff of six people who keep the daily operations going, and they enjoy their work.
“We also have a very active board of directors who volunteer countless hours helping to maintain the property and assisting with special events.”
Morris is beyond thrilled to have a role in this important homage to the rich coal mining history of this region and says, “Big Brutus offers a very fulfilling job for me, and I enjoy seeing our visitors untameably having a great time and making great memories.”
All those who stop by to get a close-up look at Big Brutus and learn more about what this historical treasure is all about are sure to never forget such an enjoyable experience.
Big Brutus Fast Facts
Address: 6509 NW 60th Street, West Mineral, Kansas
Phone Number: 620.827.6177
Email Address: [email protected]
Hours of Operation: Open all year, seven days a week, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. (closed Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day)
Admission Prices: $10 for adults, $9 for seniors and military, $5.50 for children ages 6-12 years old (children 5-under get in free)
Events & Activities: Offers a unique and picturesque venue for weddings, receptions, private parties, group tours, school field trips, picnics and family reunions. The Visitors Center & Big Brutus both feature exhibits, ever-changing displays and photographs that enhance the colorful history and heritage of this region and this bucket-wielding machine. Be sure to take advantage of the self-guided tour.