Monday, November 12, 2007

Salt Mining in Hutchinson

I had the opportunity to go to the Kansas Underground Salt Museum last week for the express purpose of sharing the visit with you here. This new museum in Hutchinson is quite astounding. I am hoping to have the story ready next week. Greg went with me and took a lot of photographs, so you'll be able to share our visit until you can make your own trip.

In the meantime, it made me go back and look at my photographs from a year ago when our leadership class went underground. There is a real mining operation for salt, and Underground Vaults and Storage, which is fascinating in its own right.

Of course, a live mine site is not exactly a place that can welcome the public, nor is a business designed to provide secure storage. But, the museum does an amazing job of giving you a true experience of what it's like.

Following are some photos I took a year ago, before the museum was open, on the private tour for the leadership group. When you see the others, you'll realize how true to life the museum is.

The sign says, "Welcome to The Carey Salt Mine
You are now 645 feet below the Earth's surface
surrounded on all sides by a vein of solid rock salt."

Until the 1960s they gave tours of the mining operation. The vehicle they're driving in is just one of the ones the mine crew uses to move around down there. They are old cars and trucks that were brought down in pieces and reassembled. The one I rode in is shown below.

The day we were there they were getting ready to blast, but they were not setting off explosives. But, this is the wall they were preparing. You'll see one just like it in the museum.

They have these massive machines there that do a variety of chores in the mining operation. Considering they all had to be brought down in a small elevator, it's rather amazing they're there.

These machines break up the salt once it's blasted out

and then it's run by conveyor.

This vein of salt is huge, extending over multiple states.

And, no, that's not a ghostly orb - it's salt dust caught in the flash light.

They let us all choose a piece of salt to take with us. You'll get to do the same thing on your museum tour.

Underground Vaults and Storage rents space from Carey Salt for a storage facility. I did a story on it many years ago and it's quite interesting. They are used a great deal by Hollywood, as well as many, many companies. The museum has a fabulous exhibit on it.

You'll see the names of lots of things you recognize...

On the day I was there I spotted episodes of Tom and Jerry, LA Law and Mama's Family. You might question why some of those things were being saved, but there they were nonetheless.

I'm eager to share the museum with you. It's something anyone can come visit and is a truly wonderful experience. Look for it on Monday the 19th.

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