Before you ask, it's #4 on the list of 8 Wonders of Kansas. And just in case you think I'm not serious about the list, I have proof. Check out the sign on the side of the building.
I had no idea there were underground salt mines in Kansas. I would have guessed Death Valley or Utah, but Hutchinson, Kansas? The salt deposit extends across (well, I guess "across" isn't the right word for something underground--how about "below"?) 27,000 square MILES of Kansas. They're still mining nearby, but the museum is in the historical section that was mined last century. Old Engine #2 was built by GE in 1919 (one of only three ever built) was used by Carey Salt Company until 1963.
Once down, you're in part of the old mine in a section they call the Permian Room, named after the sea that left all this salt behind when it evaporated. The guides point out the layers of salt in the walls, tell you a bit about how the salt was formed, then let you wander down the giant hallway at your own pace. The salt is the light layers, the dark stuff is very old dried up mud.
Occasionally one of those skinny layers of salt and mud break off from the ceiling. This was in a side tunnel. The miners keep a close eye on the ceiling to catch any separations before they fall and do real damage.
This old car was used to move supplies within a section of the mine after it was converted to electricity. No, it's wasn't like today's electric cars that are plugged in to charge the battery--it was plugged in to an extension cord. They could only drive it as far as the length of the extension cord! Poor ugly little thing.
More pics: Strataca