Curtis Miller creates aluminum ant tunnel cast, wins first place at fair

By Cody Morris

Lovell High School student Curtis Miller and his father, Levi Miller, decided to take on the grueling project of creating an aluminum ant tunnel cast so as to compete in the Big Horn County Fair in Basin this past weekend.

The original idea to use melted aluminum to cast ant tunnels for the fair was that of Levi, who did the same thing when he was younger, according to Curtis. After his dad told him about it, Curtis thought it would be cool to do.

Curtis Miller of Cowley poses with his grand champion ribbon in the visual arts division at the Big Horn County Fair in Basin Thursday. David Peck photo

Before they could begin making the tunnels, they had to find a suitable ant hill.

“The ant hill was at Lovell Motocross over by Lovell Lakes,” Curtis said.

Once they found the hill, they got around to heating up some aluminum to the point of being melted (1,221 degrees Fahrenheit), poured it down the ant hill and waited.

“We had to wait overnight for it to cool down,” Curtis said.

Once the aluminum had cooled down, it took several hours the next day to dig all the way to the bottom of the tunnels, dig three-fourths of the distance around it and use a crane to hoist it up.

By the end, their patience had run thin. Levi Miller joked that the whole process was “a pain in the butt” and that “no ribbon would be worth the effort” the two went through, “but the experience he gained from it was well worth it,” Levi said.

The hard work paid off in the end. The aluminum cast was displayed at the Big Horn County Fair last week, where it finished as the grand champion of the fair in visual arts,  enabling Curtis’s project to move onto the state fair in Douglas August 13-17.

 Curtis mentioned that once his project is done being displayed at fairs this year, he won’t be entirely sure what to do with it.

“We might display it at our house or our shop,” said Curtis, referring to Miller’s Fabrication & Construction, “but I don’t know yet.”