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Archive for Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Campaign takes on paint job for mining monument

October 28, 2003

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— An unusual southeast Kansas tourist attraction is in need of a fresh coat of paint.

Big Brutus, the second-largest electric shovel in the world, hasn't been painted since 1984, when the Pittsburg & Midway Coal Mining Co. donated the shovel and 16 acres of land to Big Brutus Inc., for restoration work.

A fund-raising campaign has begun to raise $250,000 for the paint job.

Officials estimate it will take 900 gallons of orange and 300 gallons of black paint to put a fresh coat on the 16-story, 11-million pound attraction. Some green and white paint also will be needed for the interior.

Larry Reynolds, president of Big Brutus Inc., which oversees the tourist attraction, said he hoped the paint job would not actually cost $250,000. But he said it needed to be done soon because the current coat of orange paint was chipping and fading.

"I know it's quite a chunk of money for a small organization," said John Battitori, a Big Brutus board member. "We're going to pursue some grants, ask for donations and have some fund-raisers."

Battitori said the board felt it was important to keep alive mining history and the cultural history that resulted from mining.

"It's such an important aspect to this part of the country, to this area," Reynolds said. "Not only is it a tourist attraction, but also it has educational value."

In recent years, more school groups have come to Big Brutus for field trips or educational purposes. "Project Mine," a U.S. Department of Education grant, teaches mining education to area high school and college students.

"We'll have scavenger hunts, where students locate a miner's lamp and other items in the museum," said Betty Becker, manager of the Big Brutus Museum.

School and family reunions, weddings, motorcycle groups, car clubs and tour buses also use Big Brutus as a destination.

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