Sunday, March 27, 2011

Hutchinson Salt Museum, KS

Hutchinson, KS

Hutchinson, KS

Hutchinson, KS

Hutchinson, KS

A couple of weekends ago I took a short two day and much needed road trip to western Kansas. Traveling from Overland Park my wife and I drove west on I70 to Salina (Please see a previous post exploring this town) where we then headed south to see Dodge City on the Oklahoma state-line. From Dodge we began our trip back, making Hutchinson and it's Salt Museum our last stop. For me this was largely a photographic expedition to visit several places I have intended to visit, but not yet had the chance.

To be back out on the American road was as wonderful and inspiring as ever and came, as always, with several unexpected and amazing encounters, many of which I made pictures of and will share in future posts, here at this blog.

The Kansas Underground Salt Museum

The Kansas Underground Salt Museum is one of The 8 Wonders of Kansas because it showcases the natural treasure, salt that exists hundreds of feet below the Kansas plains.

Hutchinson seized the unique opportunity to provide a destination attraction for the citizens of Kansas, the United States, and the world to explore an exotic environ carved from salt deposits formed 280 million years ago, 650 feet below the surface.

In the United States there are 16 salt mines but Hutchinson is the only one, in fact the only one in the Western Hemisphere, which has an underground museum open to tourists. There are only two other underground salt museums in the world and they are in Poland and Austria. People from throughout the country have clamored for an opportunity to visit the Hutchinson salt mine.

The adventure at the Kansas Underground Salt Museum begins on board a double-decked elevator that takes visitors to the salt deposit 650 feet down. Upon arriving underground, they board a tram that takes them into mined out areas where they will see naturally occurring geologic formations and artifacts left behind by miners over a period of 85 years. They then have the opportunity to wander through exhibits that tell the story of salt mining, the geological history of the area and how these vast salt caverns under Hutchinson have been used to store over seven million documents.

The mine's perpetual 68 degrees and 40 percent humidity make it a great place to for the storage of unique, often secret and very rare or treasured cultural artifacts. A company named Underground Vaults and Storage has been doing that here since the 1940s, founded by ex-GIs who saw a similar operation in Nazi Germany. Visitors aren't allowed into the vaults, but you can tour a small exhibit, which includes movie memorabilia such as James Dean’s shirt from Giant, the costumes from the Batman movies and the Matrix. It also stores the master prints of Gone With the Wind, The Wizard of Oz, and thousands of other Hollywood films.

The text for this post has come from and been adapted from two websites: Kansas Sampler Roadside America


  1. Simon, coincidence is no ordinary thing... (mash up of Graham Parker's song). I was touring Hutchinson KS because of the huge grain elevators there. Google earth is such a gift isn't it. When I went to the aerial shots of the town I could see points of interest that looked like industrial or elevators, from there you merely zoom down to streetview. This is what I did. I came to the streetview of the salt mine and thought .. hmm there are several in Ontario and in MI and NY States that used to offer tours but no longer. I did a quick search and found the website and information about these tours. I have actually considered making a side trip just to see this.

    Now I see you've been! The internet is an amazing place.

    cheers, Jan

  2. So your internet search brought you here? It's funny because I do get emails from people asking what I thought of a particular place, or if I have been to ---- , because they either live there are are planning to make a visit. I enjoyed the salt mines very much, but it was very expensive, mind you. I do tend to off set the costs against the possible picture making opportunity, which on hindsight were a little squandered, but I did surface with something.I think you should make a visit, knowing your work, I'm sure you'll make some great pictures and find it really interesting too. Cheers for your visit and comment Jan. Much appreciated.