Mike Kuberry: Trapper miner approaches retirement
December 25, 2015
In his 37 years at Trapper Mine, Mike Kuberry has moved a lot of dirt.
From the elevated cockpit of the Molly Brown, a 9 million-pound dragline, he deftly maneuvers the machine's 315-feet boom, lowering the bucket to scoop another 32 yards of earth.
It is a delicate operation, but professional dragline operators like Kuberry make it look easy.
He can shake your hand, hold a conversation, offer a cup of coffee and school you on coal mining all while operating the biggest piece of machinery you've ever seen.
At the age of 26, Kuberry came to Trapper as an equipment operator, which he already had experience with, and proceeded to advance his position at the mine as he gained knowledge and seniority.
"Trapper’s been a great place," he said. "I don't have any regrets, been a good place to work."
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After nearly four decades at the mine, Kuberry plans to retire within the month but said he had mixed emotions about leaving.
"I spent my whole entire career out here," he said. “Most of my adult life."
Eric Johnson, who has been working the dragline with Kuberry for the past year, joked about missing his coworker.
"The next guy is not going to be as good," he said.
Kuberry raised a family with his wife Judy in Craig and so far the plan is to stay in the area.
"My grandkids are here, and my kids are here," he said.
The Colorado landscape is also a big draw for the Kuberrys, who are accustomed to going on excursions with their horses, Roscoe and Frosty.
"We used to pack in with the horses a lot when my son was younger…. Eat fish for four days have a good steady diet of fish and get ready to go home," he said.
Approaching the final days of his stint at Trapper, Mike said he had no regrets.
"This has been a great job for many, many years,” he said.
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