Down into the Salt Mine

2019 West Again, Kansas, Road Trip, States

 

What an amazing experience! We spent this morning deep underground in a salt mine. We ordered our Strataca tickets yesterday for a 9:40AM tour this morning. Turns out it’s more admission time. After being issued hard hats, our ride with 26 others in a double decker hoist to 650 feet below the surface, we wandered at our own pace through a fabulous museum in the older parts of the mine. Salt was originally found in this area by Ben Blanchard in 1887 leading to the development of Hutchinson KS as Salt City and mined by Emerson Carey. Original mining techniques beginning in 1923 created a vast room within the Permian salt deposit that lies under four states. Newer techniques create a warren of tunnels and pillars that resemble a waffle iron. After wandering a while, learning the origins of this salt deposit, the equipment and techniques used in mining, the life of a miner, and marveling at some of the treasures like Hollywood costumes and films (including The Wizard of Oz!) and the Dorothy from Twister housed in Underground Vaults Storage, we climbed aboard a narrow gauge train with a recorded narration for a ride through some of the lit tunnels. Next was the Dark Ride aboard a tram. On this ride the equipment was quiet and our driver could narrate as well as field questions. Our final adventure was the Salt Safari, again on a tram. Our driver issued us with flashlights and drove us much deeper into the mines again explaining techniques, discussing geology , pointing out artifacts left behind by miners and by the Atomic Energy Commission survey, and taking us as close as possible to the mine face for Hutchinson (formerly Carey) is still a working mine. Occasionally Salt Safari riders can hear a blast or the sound of drills through the walls but today all was quiet. It’s amazing how beautiful, how peaceful, and how comfortable it is down there at 68°F year round. It was a bit of a shock after our ride to the surface to be hit with the blast of heat and light of a Kansas summer day as we emerged from the mine.

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2 Comments

  1. Mary Lou

    WOW! Fabulous adventure! I almost feel like I was there with you from your descriptions and photos. I had no clue there were salt mines in Kansas. Thanks for the blog!

    Reply
  2. Anne Psarras

    This is so fascinating! I missed it during my one visit to Wichita.

    Reply

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