Hutchinson is a city of 40,000 about 40 miles from Wichita. We stayed at the Kansas State Fairgrounds.
Kansas Underground Salt Museum
Tram Ride in the Great Hall
It’s a 70-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. Because of the large size of mining equipment and the limited size of the elevator shaft, most of it had to be disassembled to go underground. Then, of course, had to be put back in working order. Reversing that process to take out obsolete equipment would be inefficient considering there is plenty of space in the mine to just abandon it. So there have been many more downs than ups involving mining machinery and vehicles. And over the years, numerous no-longer-used items have accumulated throughout the mine, creating sort of an ever-expanding time capsule.
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 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 (1,400 m2) with ceiling heights ranging from 11 to 17 feet (5.2 m). 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.
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.
Underground Vaults & Storage Gallery
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 film 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 Jack Frost, and Agent Smith’s costume from The Matrix.
This is an old IBM system 38 Computer stored down in the salt mine.
The storage capacity 64MB, 1979 Cost $91,780, in 2007 dollars $274,000
IPOD Nano storage is 8,000MB and the cost in 2007 $230.00.
UV&S used this System 38 until the early 1980s. By comparison the iPod has 63 times more storage capacity, runs 72 times faster and is available for about $230.
Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center.
The Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center is a museum and educational facility in Hutchinson, Kansas that is best known for the display and restoration of spaceflight artifacts and educational camps. It is one of only three museums to display flown spacecraft from Mercury, Gemini and Apollo missions.
The Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center grew from a planetarium established on the Kansas State Fairgrounds in 1962. The 105,000-square-foot (9,800 m2) facility now houses the largest collection of Russian space artifacts outside of Moscow, and the second largest collection of space artifacts in the world, second only to the National Air and Space Museum.
The Cosmosphere has four venues: The Hall of Space Museum, The Justice Planetarium, The Carey IMAX Dome Theatre, and Dr. Goddard's Lab, which is a live science presentation. The Cosmosphere also hosts a series of camps for children as young as those going into second grade, up to a camp designed for grandparents to attend with their grandchildren.
Included in the Cosmosphere's collection are an SR-71 Blackbird, the Liberty Bell 7 spacecraft from Mercury 4 and the Odyssey command module from Apollo 13, as well as Redstone and Titan II launch vehicles used in the Mercury and Gemini programs. A prized item on display is a moon rock from Apollo 11, the first manned mission to land on the moon.
The Cosmosphere is the only museum in the world that has both an authentic restored V-1 flying bomb and an authentic restored V-2 missile. It is also the only museum outside of Russia that has an authentic, flown Vostok capsule.
Nearly all of the vehicles, rockets, spacecraft, and spacesuits on display are either authentic or a "flight-ready backup," which is identical to the item actually flown: if a problem is detected in a spacecraft, rocket, or suit before it is flown, the backup fills in on the mission for the damaged item. The only replicated items in the Cosmosphere are the model of Glamorous Glennis, the Bell X-1 flown by Chuck Yeager, and the life-sized space shuttle replica that greets visitors.
The Cosmosphere museum begins with the earliest experiments in rocketry during the World War II era, explores through the Space Race and Cold War, and continues through modern times with the Space Shuttle and International Space Station.
Teri and I have been to Houston Space Center, Cape Canaveral Space Museum and the Smithsonian Space Museum in Washington DC, but this museum is the best at explaining the space race of the 1950’s to early 1960’s with both the Russian and USA displays. The Russian displays are exceptional.