Friday, August 8, 2014

Salt Mine Museum

You know that expression that goes, "Make plans and God laughs."? 
Yeah, sometimes I think that's what I should name this blog. My plans have gone down the drain more times than they've gone as planned. 

Our family had actually planned on taking a vacation this week to Colorado but then two weeks ago we ended up taking a last minute trip back to Indiana. So there went our vacation money. While we were at home in Indiana we were able to do a little bit of fun stuff but our experience was overshadowed with trips to the hospital. (A close family member had us pretty worried for a while but everything turned out better than anticipated.) 

DR and I felt like we wanted to have one more summer fun day with the kids so we headed to Hutchinson, KS over the weekend to see Strataca; the underground salt museum. 

A fairly plain facade, as though it wants to go as unnoticed as the mine beneath it. 

When you get to the mine you have to buy tickets for a certain time. They only take 30 visitors down every 20-30 minutes. We arrived at 1:30 but didn't go down until 2:40 and this was on a Sunday afternoon too. 

Once it's your turn to go down everyone gets fitted with a hard hat and a self rescuer, a nifty 3 lb. device that is slung across our chest that, in case of fire and smoke, we would use these to breathe. Though we were reassured that in 70 years of bringing visitors down no one had ever needed to use them. 

We took a 90 second ride down in a hoist we arrived in the gallery, a huge room/tunnel with a few signs explaining that this salt mine is pure salt with very little other minerals found. 

This is an awfully big hunk of salt!!! I think it was 400 lbs...whoa! 
The Carrey salt mine is still active and is used as the rock salt that is put on icy roads. 

There are a lot of really neat artifacts on display throughout the museum. This is the machine that was used first in the process. This giant chainsaw would saw at ground level under a wall, then holes would be drilled in the wall, explosives inserted in the holes, then....BOOM!!....a pile of rock salt! 

Fresh air is pumped down the mine, of course, and since there are about 150 miles of tunnels there are places that don't need fresh air. Since the very early times miners have been blocking off some of those unused tunnels so as not to waste fresh air. In the distance you can see one such wall built of lumber. Some walls were also built by filling empty dynamite boxes with salt. 

Not only is the mine used to supply salt but some of the empty tunnels are used as storage. Every major Hollywood movie company has something stored in the Hutchinson Mine. There was this Dorothy from the movie Twister, Dean Cain's Superman suit, a uniform worn by Matt Damon from the movie Monument Men and more on display for visitors to see. 

The museum itself is self guided with a natural flow with a variety of artifacts on display as well as videos that explains the mining process. In this photo the family had taken a seat to watch how the salt was transported to the surface. 

You can't leave the mine without your own souvenier piece of rock salt (because THAT'S so hard to come by!) They have a huge pile for folks to rummage through. 


I have miners in the making!! Seriously, Yip is all ready to start training to be the powder man...yikes!!! 

A really neat museum that I highly recommend!! 

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