March 13, 2011

The Kansas Underground Salt Museum has been open for several years, but this would be my first trip to see it. The previous link has good information, as does this Wikipedia entry.


The museum is in an older section the active salt mine. The more industrial work doesn't interfere with the visitors to the museum (or the other way around). From the parking lot you can see part of the above ground buildings where the salt is brought to the surface. Most of the salt is headed towards winter-use on roads.


A newspaper from the museum opening shows the standard measures of height (Statue of Liberty, Saint Louis Arch, etc.). The mine is 650 feet below the surface.


Useful stuff; salt!


We were issued hardhats and emergency breathing equipment to sling around your shoulder. Of course a salt mine is not the dangerous place that a coal mine could be--but, OSHA mine rules are OSHA mine rules.


The ride down the shaft was in complete darkness. Some people felt it in their ears (I didn't).


And, here we are. The floor is very hard salt (not much different than concrete).

There are some areas of almost pure salt crystals, but most of it is a grey and black with clear evidence of stratification over the eons that it took to build up the salt layers.


We were pulled by a tram through the dark tunnels. "Tunnels" is perhaps the wrong term. The passageways are wide and fairly tall. Large supports have been retained while the salt is removed. The tram is electric.


Sometimes the salt is red. These escapeway signs were common. Not a bad idea, really, as there are no landmarks to help guide you should you get lost.



An old (electric motor) truck from the late 1930s.  The tripod is the remnant of testing equipment to measure the settling between the floor and ceiling. It's a tiny number, but apparently still too much to allow this area to be used to store nuclear waste (to nobody's disappointment in this part of Kansas).


A large pile of salt rocks was available for us to pick out samples to take home.


Since the temperature and humidity is just about perfect for long term storage, a company does just that. Documents and anything else that you might want to keep for a very long time are kept here. The film industry uses these salt mines to store movies.


The batman costume worn by George Clooney? Here it is. On the right are props from "Men in Black."


Brad Pitt's shield from "Troy"? It's here. And, that's the shirt that James Dean wore in "Giant."


Older equipment used in the early years of the mine.




last edit: 3/13/2011