a journey towards the person God created me to be...
14 August 2013
mining salt under the Kansas prairie
It's always good to know the way UP and OUT.
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.
We let Mikala ride in the front with Bill (sometimes she gets a bit queasy in cars). I sat in back, sketching her bucky pillow (filled with buckwheat hulls), and the two of them as they teased and laughed with each other.
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.
Lots 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.