WEST MINERAL, Kan. — Preservationists and volunteers are working to get a giant electric shovel in Kansas that weighs 5,500 tons on the National Registry of Historic Places.
The Joplin Globe reports that volunteers managed to get the orange-and-black shovel, called Big Brutus, on the Register of Historic Kansas Places in November. The board of directors of Big Brutus Inc. will be notified about the national nomination either this month or next.
Big Brutus was built in less than a year by Bucyrus-Erie for the Pittsburg & Midway Coal Mining Co. It stands at 160 feet tall and operated from 1963 to 1974 in the once booming mining town of West Mineral.
“Once Big Brutus started working, it worked around the clock, seven days a week,” said Betty Becker, manager of the Big Brutus Museum, which occupies nearly a dozen acres in the Mined Land Wildlife Area. “In the summertime, there was just a couple of weeks where they always shut down for repair.”
Volunteers said the landmark now attracts more than 30,000 visitors per year.
“Today, Big Brutus is used as a teaching tool for children and adults to learn about the history of coal mining,” said Amanda Minton, adjunct history teacher at Pittsburg State University. “An 8th Wonder of Kansas finalist, it is important that Big Brutus be listed on the National Register to help document the significance of coal mining and the impact it had in the area.”
The machine will have access to certain tax credits and federal grants for rehabilitation if approved for the National Register. The landmark would make a worthy addition to the list, Minton said.
“Big Brutus is a rich source of historical significance to this area,” she said. “Children and adults marvel at the size of the electric shovel that continues to stand tall and proud for the miners who worked hard and brought their families to southeast Kansas to give them a better life. I wish Big Brutus all the best for making the National Register.”
Information from: The Joplin (Mo.) Globe, http://www.joplinglobe.com