Big Brutus’ manager shares personal ties to monument & mining town

Destination Kansas

WEST MINERAL, Ks. — Betty Becker is the manager at Big Brutus Inc., which runs a historic museum with Big Brutus at the center.

Day in and day out, she gets to share the rich history of the massive electric shovel with visitors from all across the globe.

But what many people don’t know, is just how personal this job is for her.

“I’ve been a mining girl all my life. I’ve grown up with Big Brutus,” says Becker.

West Mineral, a town with now less than 200 people living in it, is where she was raised. In fact, her father worked in the mining business, at the very place she now dedicates her own time to.

“My dad worked for Big Brutus, so naturally it’s very important to me.”

While he passed away several years ago, she certainly remembers him waking up to go to work each morning.

And now, she gets to share a piece of those memories with every visitor that comes to the museum.

“We have one of the big coal trucks that he used to drive, which is out here on display.”

Becker is just one of the paid employees, along with board members, who work continuously to keep the attraction operating. And in turn, keeping the history of this small southeast Kansas mining town alive.

“Cause it’s kind of a thing of the past. A lot of our visitors, especially the younger kids that come out, they don’t realize what a chunk of coal is,” says Becker.

While Big Brutus is currently closed due to COVID-19, Becker is hoping to welcome new visitors again soon.

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