On Saturday, we took our granddaughter Mikala,
visiting from Texas, exploring the underground of Hutchinson, Kansas.
One of the world's largest salt deposits was discovered there in 1887 (though I'm sure that Native Americans knew of it much earlier),
spanning across Kansas, Oklahoma, the pan-handle of Texas, and into New
Mexico. Still actively mined today, they also have a museum and
visitors' center in one of the older sections of the mine.
Mikala looked cute in her hard hat.
Lots of hands-on exhibits showed how the salt deposits formed (when an ancient ocean covered this land), the variety of salt found here, and unusual formations such as fluid inclusions (pockets of ancient sea water trapped inside particularly pure specimens).
Hard hats were required to be worn by all, as well as our being issued
emergency breathing apparatus in case of fire . . . . even though salt
can not burn.
of discarded mining equipment was scattered about --- workers were told
"what goes in the mine, stays in the mine", the company owners not
wanting to tie up man-hours and equipment for hauling it out. Piles of
lunch wrappers and other rubbish from previous generations of miners are
now museum artifacts. At the end of the "dark ride" through the
tunnels, we were able to choose some bits of salt as souvenirs. Mikala
found the prettiest red salt sample, as well as a pure bit with a fluid
inclusion inside -- we didn't discover the water bubble until later at
home, holding it up to the light.