“Become a citizen of this working salt mine!”
A journey into the exotic world of a working salt mine is possible in very few places on Earth.The KUSM has a broad appeal for all who seek an indelible experience, and provides the only opportunity of this kind in the Western Hemisphere. Via a rickety elevator, visitors descend 65 stories underground to visit enormous salt galleries. It’s a 90-second trip to the Kansas Underground Salt Museum 650 feet (200 m) below the Kansas prairie. Visitors ride in a double deck elevator that holds fifteen people on each level. Therefore it also created an invaluable resource for Salt Museum curators. They scoured the 67 miles (108 km) of mined caverns at the Hutchinson Salt company. The artifacts they were able to collect have significantly contributed to the scope of the museum displays. The train was used to transport salt, miners and supplies. The weather in Kansas may be erratic and unpredictable, but conditions underground are very predictable and constant. The mine naturally maintains a temperature of 68 degrees with a relative humidity of around 45%.The mine chambers are very large, ranging in size from 2,500 to 15,000 square feet with ceiling heights ranging from 11 to 17 feet. Since 1954, anyone going into the mine has been required to wear a hard hat and rescue breather. In the history of Hutchinson’s salt mine, no visitor or mine employee has ever needed to use the breather. The Mine Safety and Health Administration, which regularly inspects all aspects of the operation, considers the Hutchinson mine one of the safest in the world. It's true The material used for much of the museum flooring is very similar to concrete; but instead of sand, salt is used with the cement and water. Thus, it is known as Saltcrete. With the ready availability of the salt, it is definitely practical and cost effective for the museum. Saltcrete does leach – emitting a fine dust of salt – until it is cured, which takes approximately one year. It has limited applications because water makes Saltcrete blister and disintegrate. A tram tour, the Dark Ride, is an optional opportunity that takes visitors through a maze of chambers beyond the museum area to see various features of the mine environment – with a brief pause to experience the sensation of complete darkness. The tour also includes a stop at a salt pile for a souvenir – filling a sample bag with salt crystals. While the 26-acre facility is a secured site in another area of the Hutchinson Salt Company mine not open to the public, Underground Vaults & Storage (UV&S) has replicated the look and set-up of its operation for the Kansas underground Salt Museum. The company is internationally known for its highly protective, secured storage capabilities, including being home to the original camera negative of many movies, like Gone with the Wind and Ben Hur, as well as television show masters. UV&S also stores medical records, oil and gas charts, and a host of other valuable documents and other materials from all 50 states and many foreign countries. Businesses prefer this storage because of the constant temperature and relative humidity, the high security level created by “shaft only” access, and the mine’s safeguard from natural disasters like tornadoes, floods, hurricanes or earthquakes. Underground Vaults and Storage and the Kansas Underground Salt Museum have been loaned several artifacts and actual costumes from popular movies. The temporary exhibit includes such notable memorabilia as Batman and Mr. Freeze costumes from Batman & Robin, James Dean’s shirt from Giant, the Snowman from the 1998 film Jack Frost, and Agent Smith’s costume from The Matrix. Perhaps the most interesting part of the Kansas Underground Salt Mine is the ability to become a "resident" of STRATACA. The process involved receiving an actual photo ID card that proclaims the residency of the underground mine, but provides yearly discounts to it's facilities and exhibits.
The underground salt mine (Strataca) is really well done and something fun as well as interesting to do with your family. They have at 650 elevator trip down below the mine and a really cool gallery. They offer 3 train rides. 10 and under is not allowed on the safari express (which is an hour-ish tour). But we did the blast pass which was a 15 minute train ride and the 30 minute dark ride, which at the end, you get to pick up your own salt souvenir.
Needless to say, our family loved KUSM. We called ahead for get our tickets, but we needed to delay an hour due to our traveling. They had no problem with changing our entry time.
The staff was extremely friendly, helpful, and knowledgable. (Thank you Steve, Jodi, Martha, Chrissy, Tammy, just to name a few of the kind people who made the trip to the mine that much better by their kindness and consideration).Bob was one of our tour guides. He had a wealth of knowledge about the mine and its history.
Points to know: They do not have a cafe down below, just snacks, and no children under four.
Great way to spend the day. Unique experience that you should check out. Ride down is about a minute and a half in the dark, some little ones were a little scared. Also if you chill easily bring a jacket or sweatshirt. The temp is a constant 68 - 70 degrees year round according to staff. I took all the rides. I would recommend Gallery Tour, Train Ride, Dark Ride and Safari Shuttle in that order if you are doing all of them. If you only do one ride I would recommend the Safari Shuttle.
A fantastic adventure 650 feet back in time as well as the changes in salt mining technology over time. Allow at least 2 hours for the minimum your. There is an add-on tour of another 2 hours that is worth your time.
I would recommend this attraction highly! As said previously this is a very well organized tour. Being able to get an intimate look at a working mine was amazing. All of our guides were knowledgeable and friendly. On specific tours ( you have 3 to choose from) you even get the ability to take some salt rock home. One surprise is the memorabilia they have stored underground. That was a treat to see and added value to an already excellent tour. Great for all ages. A must see in Kansas.
Awesome! Learned a lot. Not claustrophobic at all!!
This is a must do. There is no way to explain it except to say that salt takes on a whole new meaning.
STRATACA! Underground Salt Mine! We loved this stop. It is amazing how huge the mine is, and this is the location that is currently not a work site. The people that work there are very friendly and helpful, everyone we met had worked in the mine or their family had worked in the mine for years so they are very comfortable with everything. We did not do the extra tour that takes you deeper in the mine and did not feel like we missed anything.
Why is there movie memorabilia and computers: This is one place I did not think they did a good job explaining why there is a display with very cool memorabilia and other objects in a salt mine... We did read the displays and spoke to a very knowledgeable member of their staff. The mine is also used by the Underground Vaults & Storage and you can see a replica of the storage area in the memorabilia area. Because of the secure location and controlled environment anything that goes in the mine stays in the mine and does not deteriorate so films, priceless movie items and medical records are all stored in the mine. They claim if you live in the midwest and beyond your medical records are in that mine.
SPECIAL NOTE: I am very, very claustrophobic I was fine once I got down and in the mine. I can not express enough the areas you are touring are huge! I would compare them to many gyms placed side by side with a ceiling of about 12 feet. The hoist (elevator) ride down was very uncomfortable for me. They put a good number of people in the elevator and during the descent a light can either be off or on. I should have spoken up and asked for the light to be on. It is pitch black, you can not even see your hand in front of your face. You will be wearing hard hats so leave your hats in the car and it is 68 degrees all the time.
Spent a hot afternoon down the mine/museum. Definitely recommend the Safari Shuttle after did them all! We only wore the hard hat and were given a light for the Safari Shuttle.
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Kansas Underground Salt Museum (STRATACA)
- Tue - Sat: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
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