WEST MINERAL - One of Cherokee County's most iconic landmarks has just received the recognition many have long felt the giant shovel deserved. On Jan. 5, 'Big Brutus' was listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
The National Register is the country's official list of historically significant properties, and 'Big Brutus' can certainly lay claim to that description. 'Big Brutus' is the nickname of the Bucyrus-Erie model 1850B electric shovel that now towers above the prairie as the centerpiece of the mining museum in West Mineral.
It was the second largest of its type in operation in the 1960s and 1970s at 160 feet high and weighing 11 million pounds. The behemoth cost $6.5 million in 1962, when it was shipped in 150 railroad cars to be assembled in Southeast Kansas. It was used until 1974 when it became uneconomical to continue mining coal at the site. At that time it was considered too big to move, and thus was famously left in place.