VISIT Milwaukee Blog
by Guest Blogger Julie Henning, Road Trips for Families
As the dust settles on the acquisition of Bucyrus International, Inc. by Caterpillar Inc. in July 2011, Caterpillar has recognized the historical influence of Bucyrus both in the community and the mining equipment industry. The result is an 18,000 square foot, three-story, free museum in the South Milwaukee campus.
“We’re proud of our company’s history and the museum serves to preserve it. We’re also promoting the mining industry, the equipment used in the mining industry, and connecting with the local community,” explained Paul Johnson, Program Manager of the Visitor Center, Caterpillar Mining Sales and Support Division.
Featuring multimedia exhibits, vintage company memorabilia, scale models, and life-size replicas of machine parts, the museum is open to the general public from 10AM-3PM Monday through Thursday, 7AM-3PM on Friday, and 10AM-3PM the third Saturday of the month.
“We get visitors from all over,” Johnson explained, “but, for now, the majority is coming from somewhere in Southeast Wisconsin. Certainly we count a large part our interested audience as people who are restoring historical equipment or just have an interest in it.”
Popular exhibits at Bucyrus include a 495 shovel cab simulator, life-sized replica of a shovel dipper, and digger/dumper play area for younger visitors located on the main level. Johnson added “We do find that the simulator and some of the interactive exhibits downstairs do hold the attention of the younger visitors. But, once we start explaining the historical connection of the models, we find visitors are more engaged.”
As an example, a scale-model of the steam-powered shovels used in the Panama Canal project is showcased on the second floor. “The equipment used in the Panama Canal was made right here in Milwaukee. A lot of people don’t know always know that connection right off the bat, but the project was one of the largest earth moving projects in the world’s history,” Johnson explained.
Against a backdrop of framed cover pages of SCOOP Magazine; an internal Bucyrus-Erie employee publication, the museum’s third floor holds a more open floor plan. Home of the Tim Sullivan library, historical machine drawings, comfortable seating areas encourage research and relaxation. “Bucyrus used to have their own fire brigade on site. We do have some of the old equipment in one corner of the top floor if kids want to try it on,” Johnson said.
Individuals planning a visit to Bucyrus during the week are invited to dine in the Caterpillar company cafeteria, as well as peruse the company gift shop. Arranged in advance and on a limited basis are Caterpillar company tours. Johnson added, “To get young people interested in engineering, skilled trades, and the jobs that support what we do, we do offer tours for some trade associations, school groups and classes that are related to our business.”
In development is the museum website as well as a historical video to be viewed in the museum theater space.
Julie Henning is an editor with the travel website, Road Trips for Families. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin and is Travel Mom Julie with MadisonMamas.com. Bucyrus has been added to her iPhone application geared towards Milwaukee families.
Heritage Building at Caterpillar's South Milwaukee campus
1970 10th Ave.
South Milwaukee, WI 53172