Standing 160 feet above the ground, this sixteen-story electric shovel is the largest steam shovel still in existence. Big Brutus was built in 1962 at a cost of $6.5 million. Brutus's shovel can hold ninety cubic yards-enough to fill three rail cars. The shovel was used to take advantage of coal seams that were relatively shallow (about 20-70 feet deep). By 1974, the most economically advantageous shallow seams were exhausted and the shovel was too big to move. On July 13, 1985, Big Brutus was dedicated as "a Museum and Memorial Dedicated to the Rich Coal Mining History in Southeast Kansas."
Backstory and Context
The visitor's center holds a small museum and gift shop. Given the opportunities for fishing, hiking, and other outdoor activities in the area, the visitor's center also offers facilities for RVs and showers for campers.