When I was little, I was fascinated by fossils, minerals, and pretty much anything that had to do with digging up the past. For the longest time, I wanted to be a paleontologist, thanks to The Land Before Time. Even now, I would have no qualms about my life going in that direction.
As much as I love my home state because it made me who I am, it ranks extremely low on my list of travel recommendations. There simply isn’t much to see for an outsider. All the same, if you happen to be stuck in Kansas for one reason or another, there are a few hidden gems for those who need to satisfy their wanderlust here. One such gem is Strataca, a salt mine and museum located 650 feet below Hutchinson, KS.
After descending from the dark elevator, you are greeted with the site of old, rusted machinery, information stations, and lots and lots of glittering salt. Strataca is one of the world’s largest salt deposits and the museum’s unique location not only allows a peek below the Earth’s surface, but also a peek into the life of a miner throughout history.
The museum offers several experiences. The gallery houses and protects several historical documents, movie props, and records. The various train rides allow visitors to see different sections of the mine and learn more about how mining technology has changed over time (which for me was the most fascinating part of the trip). They also offer overnight hiking and camping events and have an event room for dinners and weddings.
Two thumbed gloves, designed to conserve material during WWII.
The miners seemed to pretty much abandon an area when it was finished being mined, without bothering to clean up. This is a whole bunch of perfectly preserved trash from the 1950s.
One of the big highlights of the trip is getting into the salt piles to pick out a few pieces of souvenir salt rocks. We couldn’t take any big ones, but we grabbed a few small ones to decorate our bookshelf at home.
Also, we rocked the hard hats.