We’ve been enjoying our granddaughter Alma’s visit these past few days. I remember so distinctly the morning her dad called and said “Happy birthday, Granne!” I knew then that she was making her way into the world and I was so excited. Now she’s 14 and we no longer have to sign for her at the airport gate as an unaccompanied minor. She’s been traveling as an “adult” since last summer!
Last year Alma visited us in Colorado for a week but this summer is so busy for her that we consider ourselves fortunate just to fit into the schedule. She came on Thursday and will leave on Tuesday, but by coming while we’re in Kansas, she gets to see her cousins and spend time with them. It’s such a blessing to have 5 of our 6 grandchildren together in one place, especially when Alma gets to be one of them. We’ve been so busy just being family that we haven’t taken pictures of them all together yet. Maybe this evening. We did all attend church together this morning, though. We sat in a row of mighty good looking folks!
Last year we did some hiking and sightseeing in Colorado when Alma was visiting, but we don’t have mountains in Kansas to see the heights so we went to Hutchinson and went down 650 feet into the Kansas Underground Salt Museum instead. The Carlsbad Caverns experience was quite different. That underground experience was an awesome display of what God created, while the salt museum was in a place that showed a more practical side of His creation. We’ve lived within 45 miles of Hutchinson since 1991 and although the museum hasn’t been doing the tours it now is all that time, we’ve never availed ourselves of the opportunity before.
The video Alma is watching in the lobby was Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs when he visited the mine. We appreciated the wall of quotes about the salt of the earth.
Downstairs we entered the Great Room, where displays were set up about the mine and salt in general. We were encouraged to touch the salt in the displays so that we would NOT touch the walls. One large purer block of salt had been found and excavated for us to see, formed by salt water collecting in a pocket in the layers. That was about the largest we saw, but we also got to play around in “salt dust”, a slightly gritty powder that looked like talc.
Signs were in place to describe some of the special layers or intrusions in the salt walls. They told us repeatedly that what was taken down into the mine stayed in the mine and even the sign posts were “recycled” railroad ties from the time when the salt was removed by rail.
Why are there no fossils in the walls of the salt mine? It’s because the sea that created the salt dried up slowly, much like the Dead Sea, leaving the water too salty to sustain life. There is, however, a “smoke” picture that very much resembles a sea horse.
Every piece of equipment in the mine had to be disassembled and cut up in pieces to fit under the lift, a space that measures 4′ by 5′, and then reassembled for use. That included several cars as well as monstrous extracting and transporting equipment.
One of the purposes for the inactive portion of the mine is storage of historical documents and objects. Movies and TV shows have been stored in box after box on row after row of shelves. The entire Friends TV series is housed in a short space on the top shelf of one row.
Props and costumes from movies are on display. These are from Men in Black 2.
One amazing document was a newspaper printed the day after President Lincoln was assassinated. People then must have had better eyes than I! The print was tiny. It was in a glass case that didn’t photograph well.
We each got to pick out our own souvenir from the salt pile, not larger than a fist.
Just to remember the occasion, Alma and I had our pictures taken.
I think the biggest news to me was that none of the salt from that mine is for human consumption. Some is used in cattle feed but most of it is from deicing streets, and Chicago is the largest consumer. Note to self: do not winter in Chicago!