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Posted: September 01, 2009

State of the state: Tourism

Steamboat attraction lets adults play with big toys

A few years ago, Ed Mumm, a New Zealand-born fence-builder, was building his own Steamboat Springs home and excavating the foundation with an excavator. As he moved the earth, a smile spread across his face. Soon he was euphoric, sitting in his machine, laughing out loud.

“I thought that people would love to do this sort of thing if there was a facility available,” Mumm says. He wrote a business plan and launched Dig This LLC in late 2007.

Today, Dig This owns five Caterpillar-brand earthmovers — two 15-ton track excavators, two 10-ton bulldozers, and a skid steer loader — and the company has a deal in place to lease 10 more machines for groups with up to 30 participants.

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Customers get to hop on one of the machines for a few hours and push around dirt on 10 acres of leased property outside Steamboat. The company takes a break during muddy October and November but is back in action once the ground firms up in December.

Corporate groups can choose a team-building exercise involving locating buried ammunition boxes based on GPS coordinates and excavating them to get the next clue — which can be encased in concrete at the customer’s request if you want to involve jackhammers. Pricing is premium, ranging from $280 per person for a half-day on the loader to $750 for a full day on a dozer or an excavator.

“It’s exceeded our expectations,” says Mumm, noting that women are surprisingly half of the more than 500 Dig This customers to date. “There’s certainly a lot of interest in this sort of activity.”

ON THE WEB: www.digthis.info

– ERIC PETERSON

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