It was already gearing up to be a hot day even at 6:30 in the morning. It did not take long to get the coolers packed with the sandwiches and other snacks for the day and then we were on our way to our first stop, Girard, KS. If you were with me last year then you know that I spent part of last year visiting helicopter displays and researching the history of each one, which is why I was returning to Girard.
After about an hour of driving, we were all ready to get out and stretch. Then we saw the brown sign saying a Massacre Site was ahead. The Marais des Cygnes Massacre took place on May 19, 1858 when a group of Missourians that were pro-slavery basically kidnapped eleven Kansans that believed in a free-state and took them to a ravine where they proceeded to shoot the men. Five were killed and five others were wounded. One of the Kansans managed to escape by pretending to be dead until the Missourians had gone. This egregious act of murder petrified the Northern States. The photos show the ravine where the eleven men were taken to be killed and part of the surrounding park.
Girard, KS seems to be the average Midwest town from what we have seen. I was mainly there for the UH-1H Iroquois (Huey) that sits at the Kansas Vietnam Veterans Memorial. After ten minutes of photographing the helicopter and memorial, we got back on the road and headed for the main attraction of this trip…Big Brutus.
From a couple of miles away you could see the dinosaur sized machine towering far above the surrounding trees and it only became more massive as we drove closer. Big Brutus is a massive example of mechanical structures, sixteen stories tall and eleven million pounds with a boom that reaches an additional one hundred and sixty feet into the air. It is one of the largest electric shovels in the world and sits at the edge of a dig that it was working on that is now a body of water. It is hard to imagine that it only took three men to operate the entire machine. Everything about Big Brutus is immense except the doorways and steps which can get a little tight. This is a great place for families with children as they are endlessly amazed by the gigantic machine.
I had heard that a VFW post in Joplin, MO had a helicopter that was not on any of my lists so I decided to make a run through there before returning home. Unfortunately there was no helo, but I did get some shots of an old tank sitting by the road. Then began the 3.5 hour drive home.