Friday, November 20, 2015

Kansas Underground Salt Museum: Strataca

In July, on the last day of my brother and his family's visit, his family, along with the kids and I, went to Hutchinson, KS, to go to the Underground Salt Museum, which is now called Strataca.  This was one of the best field trips we have ever been on!  The salt mines are still actively mined by the Hutchinson Salt Company, but the original salt discovery site is open for touring.  There is also a company called Underground Vaults and Storage, which stores millions of documents and items from all over the world, including Hollywood movies.  The dry air and steady temperature makes it a great place to store things. It's funny, because when I was doing rotations at the hospital for medical school and residency, I would occasionally hear, when requesting an old record, "That one's probably in the salt mines."  I never thought that, yes, they literally would have to get it from the salt mines!

Everyone had to wear a hard hat.

Listening to instructions while waiting to ride on The Shaft, a 6-ton hoist, to take us 650 feet below the surface of the earth!

After riding down (in the dark!), we emerged into the Permian Room.

This was a long passageway which contained many interesting exhibits.

The kids enjoyed the hands-on exhibits.

You've got to love signs that say "Please Touch!"

It was hard to believe we were down so far underground.

Joseph stuck his hand in one of the dynamite holes.

The kids and their cousins loved exploring.

Further on, we came to the Mining Gallery, which had exhibits and videos explaining what it was(and is) like to be a miner. 

There were some interesting things down there!

"What goes into the mine, stays in the mine."

We then came to exhibits about the storage area of the mine.

What the underground storage system looks like.

The kids liked seeing the Superman suit.

And Batman!

At that point, we got our turn on the Salt Mine Express, which took us through part of the mine active in the 40s and 50s.

My seatmate.

Kids loved the train ride.

Back at the storage area, we saw this old newspaper...

...preserved from when Abraham Lincoln was killed.

Next came The Dark Ride, which was a tram tour of another area.

Don't let the kids near that train car!

The train on its tour, as seen from the tram.

Who knew rock salt could come in different colors?

At one spot we all got off the tram to collect a little souvenir bag of rock salt.

Later we had to check out the bathrooms 650 feet underground!

Photo-op spot.

Dominic, the miner.

We had a great time on our underground tour of the salt mines, which is self-guided, except for the train and tram tours.  The kids all did well during our 3+ hours down there!  One thing to note if you decide you want to go: children must be at least 4 years old.

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