Winter 2014: “Men of Brutus” sneak peek!

Men of Brutus
New film highlights men who operated, preserve Big Brutus

What makes a filmmaker from Brooklyn – who just wrapped working on a new Chris Rock movie, no less – suddenly take interest in West Mineral, Kansas?

Photo courtesy of Nick Houy
Photo courtesy of Nick Houy

It’s this little thing – or, rather, massive thing – called Big Brutus.

Southeast Kansans know the coal shovel-turned landmark well; the rest of the country, not so much. Nick Houy is determined to change that.

“I was always taking road trips around the country, and I happened upon a flyer for Big Brutus at a road stop in Wichita (in around 2009),” says Houy from his New York home, more than 1,200 miles away from Southeast Kansas. “It looked pretty amazing, and when I went down there I was very blown away – obviously by the shovel itself, but also by the people.”

Houy wondered what had made Big Brutus survive for so many years while other similar shovels had been scrapped – and he suspected that there was an interesting answer to that question.

“I started talking with people in Pittsburg and the West Mineral area and Big Brutus folks, met the old miners at the Miners’ Reunion … and I figured they would make a good subject for a documentary portrait,” he says.

Thus was born “Men of Brutus,” a documentary film intended to be a snapshot of the men who operated (and now preserve) Big Brutus, the largest electric coal shovel still in existence…

Want to keep reading about “Men of Brutus”? Check out the winter issue of Southeast Kansas Living, out now! It includes this story in its entirety, plus so much more. Subscribe now, or contact us to find a newsstand near you.

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