Thursday, May 5, 2011

Big Brutus

On our way to Branson last weekend we stopped in the little hamlet of West Mineral, Kansas to see Big Brutus, the world's largest electric steamshovel.  Katherine visited there last summer with Granny and Poppy and has talked about Big Brutus ever since.  So we just had to tour it ourselves.  I must say, Brutus is BIG!
I must admit, my knowledge of steamshovels before this was pretty much limited to Mike Mulligan and his Mighty Steamshovel.  (And I had to explain that literary reference to Steve).  That's a Mike sort of steamshovel on the right.

Brutus' bucket is as large as a small house.  Seriously.
And the tank treads are taller than a man.

Inside, Brutus looks like the inside of an old naval ship I once toured.  Same iron plate construction.  Same unattractive gray-green paint scheme.  Same mysterious machinery.  Same enormous size.  The amazing thing was that this monster only required 3 men to run it - one on a platform under the arm to navigate, one in a little room near the top to push the levers that ran the digger, and one to oil the thicker-than-my-arm cables.  Brutus has been parked for a long time.  There's no more coal mining in Kansas.  Which is probably a good thing.  But it is fun to climb inside and pretend.
So if you're ever in the forgotten southeast corner of Kansas, it's well worth it to venture off the highway to see Big Brutus.  He's one cool machine.

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