Big Brutus Visitors Center


Big Brutus was shipped in 150 railroad cars to a site near Pittsburg and Midway Mine 19. It took nearly a year to assemble the shovel, which began operating in May 1963. The 15,000 hp electric shovel was one of a new breed of gigantic digging machines designed by engineers to help revitalize the ailing strip-mining industry. It was hoped that the tremendous capacities of their scoops and their ability to dig through the 60 feet or more of rock and dirt covering the coal seams would prolong the life of the mines. Unfortunately, by 1974, the cost to operate Big Brutus was more than twice the value of the coal it recovered, and it was shut down.

Activity Details

Activity Type:Trips and Destinations
Discipline:Industrial & Manufacturing, Mechanical
Topic(s):Technology/Materials
Grade:K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12
Time:Full day

Fun Fact:The second-largest electric shovel in the world, Big Brutus is 16-stories tall with a boom 150 feet long. Weighing 11 million pounds, its bucket could lift 150 tons of coal, enough to fill three railroad cars. Moving on four huge tracks, its maximum speed was 0.22 mph. Brutus ran 24-hours a day, using as much electricity as a town of 15,000 people.