We are in Kansas and heading underground!
We are here in Hutchinson in southern Kansas just to see the Underground Salt Mines.
STRATACA, previously called Kansas Underground Salt Museum, is a unique chance to be 650 feet underground and learn how salt was mined here. I heard of this from a couple of other RV friends but we weren't close enough last time we were in Kansas. This time I chose our route specifically to come here.
The Permian Wellington Formation is one of the largest in the world and the purest portion of the salt vein is 650 feet underground and is still mined today. Salt was discovered here in 1887. In 1999 a portion of it was opened to the public for tours.
Some fun facts:
- it is 650 feet below the surface
- It takes 90 seconds to descend
- there are 150 miles of tunnels
- 4 tons are mined every 3 minutes
- The original shaft was started in 1922
- The salt deposits are 250 million years old
The salt dust was weird. It felt damp and like talcum powder but it was dry and did not stick to you.
It's hard to imagine that you are actually under part of the town of Hutchinson down here. The above map shows you the years that were mined. Once an area is mined, they never go back into that area. Tracks are taken apart and reused, lighting, etc. The tunnels may be miles long but they leave 40x40 foot "pillars" to hold it up so it won't collapse.
Old cutting saw.
Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs filmed here.
"What goes in the mine, stays in the mine". Hard to imagine this was more cost effective, but it was.
Millions of data tapes, boxes of Hollywood movies and props and documents are stored down in this salt mine in Kansas. Think "Fort Knox". Miles from disaster, 650 feet below the surface within 400 feet of solid rock.
This display cracked me up because I used to work with computer equipment like this in the 80s!
Mr. Freeze costume worn by Arnold Schwarzenegger in Batman & Robin, 1997.
Batman costume worn by George Clooney in Batman & Robin, 1997.
Natalie Cook Racing Suit worn by Cameron Diaz in Charlie's Angels, 2000.
Superman costume worn by Dean Cain, 1993 - 1997.
Boxes of movies from the show "Friends".
Different layers of salt and minerals in the mine.
Before the tour started we got to try our hand at mining the old fashioned way.
Here we go. The temperature is 65 degrees so you may want to bring a light jacket. Much nicer down here than the 100 degrees above.
Here's a video of a portion of the shuttle ride. Click HERE if you can't see it.
Bathroom facilities for the miners.
One of the hundreds of tunnels with part of the 40' column on the right.
Layers of iron in the salt.
It was very interesting to hear the entire process of the mining operation.
Most ceiling heights were 10 - 12 feet high. Everything is pretty uniform down here.
Large deposits of crystallized salt.
When our tour guide shined his green lazer pointer at it it lit up beautifully.
Once a tunnel was finished they would spray paint the date on the wall.
Some of these tunnels are crazy long! Could you imagine playing Hide & Seek down here?
An old propeller from one of the fresh air shafts.
While the ceilings don't collapse entirely, they do have shelves break off. They keep careful monitoring of the movement.
As we left Hutchinson we pass another grain storage. I swear these keep getting bigger and bigger.
Next Up we venture to the Center of the US!