Big Brutus near West Mineral, Kansas was the world's second largest electric mining shovel when it was in operation in from 1962 to 1974. Now it is a tourist attraction. Big Brutus is 160 feet tall and weights 11 million pounds. These giant electric shovels, and the earlier "draglines" that they replaced, were an important part of the Kansas strip mining industry.
Big Brutus was put out of business when the economics of the coal mining changed in the 1970s. New regulations required that strip mined lands be reclaimed, but even more important, high sulfur coal like that found in Kansas become much less desirable.
Many visitors to Big Brutus will be satisfied with the view from the parking lot and a visit to the parking lot, but those paying admission can tour a small museum (almost all of it is visible in the picture below) and view a documentary of the building of the shovel. The video was interesting, but I wish it was a bit shorter.
Walking on down to Big Brutus, you get to enter and tour most of the interior and sit at the most visible operator's position. Most of the machinery that ran the shovel is still in place.
Big Brutus is pretty popular with most people that visit, but I feel that Big Brutus is a pricey at $8 admission. It isn't unusual to see just part of a party tour Big Brutus while the others wait in the visitor's center.
copyright 2006-2010 by Keith Stokes