We spent several hours 650 feet below the earth's surface with a constant 68-degree temperature, learning just about all we ever needed to know about the mining of salt for winter streets. I suppose we could almost do the mining ourselves, from undercutting to setting explosives to harvest, with all the wisdom we picked up.
The facts about the salt mine are fascinating. That they hope to harvest one million tons of the stuff in 2020 is amazing all by itself. The fact that Mike Rowe did an episode of Dirty Jobs, the reality show about careers that involve hard work, elbow grease, and determination, is pretty cool, as well. But the culture and history in the mine is, as you might guess, my favorite part. You can see that some of my photos here are not about the salt mine at all. Some are about life inside the mine, and some demonstrate the culture of the 1940s and 1950s when this section of the mine was active.
Being somewhat of an archaeology buff these days, I was drawn to the trash piles in the mine (Things that go into the mine stay in the mine.). The piles of candy and snack food wrappers, cone-shaped water cups, reading materials, and other items were quite interesting. There is even a partially-eaten sandwich at the edge of one trash pile that has been there some 75 years - yes, still sitting there on the ground, preserved all of this time because of the salt atmosphere that surrounds it. At the other end of the same pile is a 75-year-old banana peel.
Salt is a terrific preserver of these items and others - something I will address in a couple of posts to come. Check back in coming days to learn more about this location and others nearby that our family visited on our recent trek into Kansas.