The “Four-States”area, made up of Southeast Kansas, Southwest Missouri, Northwest Arkansas and Northeast Oklahoma, has a long history of mining. Many different types of mining were done all over the Four-States, both surface mining and deep mining.

 The BIGGEST and most memorable bit of history has to be Big Brutus. With statistics like these you can see why! brutus_bucket

  • second largest electric shovel in the world
  • 16 stories tall (160 feet)
  • weight 11 million pounds
  • boom 150 feet long
  • maximum speed .22 miles per hour
  • dipper capacity 90 cu. yds (by heaping, 150 tons — enough to fill three railroad cars.)
  • Brutus at work.

    Brutus at work.

    Dubbed “Big Brutus,” the enormous power shovel took a year to assemble on site in Cherokee County Kansas. Completed in June 1963; Big Brutus was an electric shovel, and actually had a giant ‘extension cord’ supplying it’s power.

    Designed to mine coal for at least 25 years, the giant shovel worked for only a decade due to a combination of environmental problems and falling coal prices. By 1973 Big Brutus was obsolete. Deeming the shovel too big to move and too expensive to dismantle, its owners stripped Brutus of its electrical and auxiliary equipment, leaving it to rust, a dinosaur of the technological age.

     Today, much of the area that Brutus worked in Southeast Kansas is still left as it was, with miles and miles of unreclaimed land. This landscape is known locally as “The Strip Pits”, as there are mounds of over-burden seperated by deep long pits, filled with water. Some of this land has been reclaimed, basically the topsoil has been pushed back into the pits it was removed from. This leaves a nice ‘rolling’ landscape, not quite flat like the land was before. Much of the areas that are not reclaimed have now become the Mined Land Wildlife Area, providing hunting and fishing, as well as refuge for game. Brutus front

     Big Brutus’ past legacy has proved to be a good one. That same thing may not be said of the mining industry’s impact on Picher Oklahoma. Polluted to the point of “Superfund” status and then flattened by a tornado, the town has actually CLOSED. The school, post office, town hall, everything. – more about Picher here



    Filed under AMERICANA, Kansas, The Four States

    9 responses to “Not BIGGER in Texas – BIG BRUTUS

    1. Buddy and me snuck a driver and golf balls up to the top, and whacked em from there. Fun stuff.

      It used massive resistors to control speed. They’re still there, if you look for em.

      There was a little restaurant On the corner of 12th and highway 69. Had great french dip sandwiches and onion rings. All gone now.

    2. For some reason this depressed the hell out of me, but I’m just in one of those Sunday morning meloncholy moods, ya know? This story is worth a Johnny Cash song. I really need a little Bobcat with a shovel, but that thing is simply omnipresent. Damn. It built and destroyed an entire town!

      • Dan, actually this post is kind of confusing. I don’t think that Brutus’ mining and Picher’s mines are the same operation. Not to say that Brutus was environmentally benign. Far from it. It did not however, leave the same legacy as the Eagle-Picher corporation did at Picher Oklahoma.

    3. I could use one of those to dig me a pool for the summer. Hmm, I could probably charge admittance too 🙂

    4. Brutus sure is a big guy alright

    5. It is difficult to take a photo of this thing in one frame it appears.

    6. Pingback: Go big or go home : CMYKUC

    7. geometaphors

      We came across a derelict Brutus on a Scout camping trip in the area. Maybe it is the same one, but I seem to remember it not being this new looking. Would have been around 1975 or 76 that we were there. Did the Brutus company make any other smaller models? I’m sure I recall the name printed in big steel letters across the back. I remember the long pits for sure, because we were climbing around in them. It is simply not possible to fully appreciate the sheer size and enormity of this beast short of standing next to it.

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