ASME-Landmark:Big Brutus Mine Shovel


When built in 1962 at a cost of $6.5 million, the "Big Brutus" mine shovel was the second largest in the world. It was used for the removal of overburden in the surface mining of thin coal seams. In its lifetime, it recovered nine million tons of bituminous coal from depths of 20 to 50 feet for local electric power generation. Standing 160-feet high, weighing 5,500 tons, and moving at speeds up to two-tenths of a mile per hour, the machine ran around the clock and stripped about a square mile each year. The bucket scooped out 90 cubic yards, or 135 tons, of earth with each bite.

Built by the Bucyrus Erie Company and shipped in 150 railroad cars to be assembled in Kansas, this shovel began its active service May 1963 at Pittsburg and Midway Mine 19, where it received its name of Big Brutus from the superintendent Emil Sandeen. It was shut down April 1974, when it no longer became economical to mine coal at the site. As it was considered too big to move, it was left in place.

Big Brutus was given to a group of concerned citizens in 1983 for restoration and is now a museum and roadside attraction. It is also now the largest electric shovel still in existence, as "The Captain," a 28 million pound mine shovel in Illinois, was scrapped in 1992 after 26 years of service. See ASME website for more information