Atmosphere

Big Dig

Forget the sandbox—real construction equipment awaits.

By
June 2008

While building his home in Steamboat Springs, Ed Mumm discovered a lost love: construction equipment. No, not Tonka trucks. We're talking the real deal: bulldozers, excavators, and skid-steer loaders that dig pits, move mountains, and sculpt the land. Mumm finished his house and, seeing a niche business opportunity, opened Dig This—10 acres of dirt in summer and 50 acres of snow in winter where anyone can come play with ridiculously powerful earth-movers.

"A lot of us want to relive our sandbox days," says Mumm, who was a contractor for 15 years before opening the construction equipment play area. He says even people without keen hand-eye coordination can master the controls of these behemoths with just 30 minutes' practice (though people with video game experience tend to pick it up quicker). So far his customers' favorite pursuits have included pushing a one-ton boulder around an obstacle course or building a dirt ramp and easing the bulldozer over the edge, like diving off a cliff. "People get a great buzz out of that," Mumm says.

Dig This caters to corporate groups and individuals who shell out from $250 for a half-day on the skid-steer loader—which Mumm calls the "sports car of the equipment world"—to $650 for a full day's use of the bulldozer and excavator. Mumm plans future locations in Las Vegas and Orlando—"anywhere," he says, "people want to play."