N O S T U C FO AL S
T H E J O U R N A L O F T H E R E N O C O U N T Y H I S T O R I C A L S O C I E T Y
this monstrous crusher (dustrag, please) edged out the aging big bertha…page 4
I 12 don’t miss world war ii exhibits at strataca
E 20 rcm helping you save your family treasures
HISTORICAL SOCIETY STAFF (full-time)
THE JOURNAL OF THE RENO COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY
Linda Schmitt, executive director, rchs firstname.lastname@example.org
Ashley Maready, chief curator, rchs email@example.com
Gayle Ferrell, director of operations, strataca firstname.lastname@example.org
Tonya Gehring, operations manager, strataca email@example.com
Dave Unruh, maintenance supervisor, strataca firstname.lastname@example.org
Myron Marcotte, mine specialist, strataca
4 the most modern mine in the world
12 world war ii focus of three exhibits
Paula Dover, administrative assistant, rcm email@example.com
...topside and underground at strataca
14 strataca…a tale of survival
...the worst of times…the best of times
19 strataca is worth the trip
Lynn Ledeboer, curatorial assistant, rcm
...in a constant state of change
...according to tripAdvisor ranking
20 rcm helping families save treasures
...new classes offer tips and treats
21 hiring older workers pays dividends
...award cites strataca workplace
22 colorful art adorned sidewalks BOARD OF DIRECTORS Richard Shank, president • Nan Hawver, president-elect Billy Klug, treasurer • Laura Snyder, secretary • Michael Armour • Tim Davies • Elaine Fallon • Mary Wilson • Bill Pfenninger • Carol Carr • Cris Corey • Katherine Goodenberger Arlyn Miller • Frank Alexander • Lee Spence, ex-officio
...until rain washed the chalk away
23 smallville comicCon arrives
...strataca introduced to new audience
24 goodbye and hello
...bye to kourtney…hello to new website
26 mark your calendars now! ON THE COVER POOR BIG BERTHA. AFTER 60 HARD-WORKING YEARS AS A TOPSIDE CRUSHER, SHE WAS DEEMED OBSOLETE WHEN THIS NEW SECONDARY CRUSHER WAS INSTALLED UNDERGROUND IN 1983. (STORY P. 4)
...for events and exhibits at both museums
Volume 26, No. 3 Legacy is published quarterly by The Reno County Historical Society, Inc. 100 S. Walnut St., P.O. Box 664, Hutchinson, Kansas 67504-0664 For advertising or membership information, call 620-662-1184. © 2014 The Reno County Historical Society, Inc. ISSN 1045-3423 All rights reserved. The RCHS disclaims responsibility for statements of fact or opinion made by contributors.
THIS DOTY JAW-TYPE CRUSHER SMASHED LARGE SALT BOULDERS INTO SMALL USABLE PIECES UNDERGROUND, ABOUT 1957. (7-209359)
T By Myron Marcotte, Mine Specialist Strataca
A change of mine
he Carey Salt Mine and the methods of mining along with the equipment used have changed many times over the years. The day the mine opened in Hutchinson, on June 23, 1923, a mining plan was in place designed to hoist 500 tons a shift, if needed. That plan was designed by the Allen-Garcia engineering firm from Chicago. The Carey family, owners of the mine, wanted a turnkey design when they
hired Allen-Garcia. When Governor Jonathan Davis inaugurated the mine by throwing the switch to start hoisting salt, the Carey family declared the mine, â€œ...the most modern mine in the world....â€?
They could call it the most modern mine because it used electricity extensively. Battery-powered locomotives were used instead of mules as in nearby salt
mines. Electric post drills and electric under-cutters replaced traditional air-powered equipment. But the mine was still heavily dependent on physical labor to load the mine cars and move rail track. The mining plan reflected the labor-intensive hand-loading operation that called for a series of dead-end 50- by 300-foot panels. These rooms were connected by a pair of 30- by 1,000-foot intake
TWO MINERS, BELOW, LOAD SALT INTO RAIL CARS. ALTHOUGH THE MINE WAS CONSIDERED QUITE MODERN IN 1923, THE LOADING PROCESS WAS STILL HIGHLY LABOR-INTENSIVE. (1997.40.02)
and exhaust tunnels or as the salt was as close entries. as possible to the rail. Typically there were Each blasted room yield12 to 15 of the 300-foot ed about 121 tons or 30 panels on the intake entry mine cars. and the same number The primary use for along the exhaust entry. rock salt in 1923 was to This plan provided for ice down refrigerated fresh air intake rail cars carrying from the shaft produce crossexpansion and stale air recountry. The built into turn to the shaft. busy season every aspect The rails always was spring and of mine ran along the summer. As there exhaust entry and were few roads at then cut over to the that time, road ice fresh air side. control was unheard of. This plan was efficient But the country was for hand-loading. Rail growing, so Allen-Garcia would run off the main incorporated expansion line down the center of into every aspect of the each room and right to mine design. From the the face. Salt was then hoist to the mill to the blasted right down on top mine, every operation of the rail. This made it could be upgraded and easy to hand-load the cars expanded.
IN 1923 THIS SINGLE ELECTRIC POST DRILL WOULD HAVE BEEN TOP OF THE LINE, ADDING CREDIBILITY TO CAREY’S BOAST OF BEING “…THE MOST MODERN MINE IN THE WORLD….”ALSO SHOWN IN THE BACK IS A VERY EARLY UNDERCUTTER. (1997.40.02)
THE FIRST MECHANIZATION ERA Hand-loading of the mine cars continued with enough efficiency to keep everything going until
(See EFFICIENCY, page 6)
Efficiency improved (Continued from page 5)
NEW MAP OF MINE
THIS WINNFIELD DRAGLINE SCOOP, ALSO KNOWN AS A SCRAPER OR SLUSHER, WAS USED AT CAREYâ€™S WINNFIELD MINE. IT WAS PART OF THE FIRST MECHANIZATION ERA OF THE MINES. (2005.09 14-14)
the mid- to late 1930s. room was completed. With Around this time a methis mining method, they chanical means to load were able to load a car cars was developed to with only one man rather reduce labor costs and than two. improve efficiency. They realized rather The first mechanical quickly, according to Palmethod, according to lister, that a change in the long-time miner Bennie mining pattern would be Pallister, was a scrapneeded to make moving er device pulled the new slusher and around by winchramp from room checkeres. This is comto room easier. board mining monly referred This change is pattern to in mining as a evident when you adopted slusher. look at a map of Miners fastened the mine. a sheave wheel to the At first they experrib with pins. Cables were imented with cross-cutstrung out from a winch ting the 20-foot pillar of between the muck pile the 300-foot-deep rooms (blasted-down pile of salt) with a 10-foot-wide entry and mine car. The scraper every 80 feet. They only dug into the loose salt and did this for a few rooms the winch would pull the before they started mining load up a ramp and into the familiar checkerboard the car. pattern used today. When the corner, usuThe checkerboard patally the right corner, was tern consisted of 50- by cleaned out to the wall, 50-foot pillars with 50-foot the sheaves were moved entries and crosscuts. closer to the salt until the This meant that at any
given time the next room was never more than 50 feet away, compared to the old 300-foot dead-end panel mining where a room could be 600 feet away. The progression of these three changes in the mining plan occurred within a few years, and can be seen in a small area of the mine map.
THE SECOND MECHANIZATION ERA
The second mechanization of the mine began in the early 1940s when the company adopted coal mining methods. They had already switched to the room-and-pillar mining method, commonly referred to as checkerboard mining. A gathering arm loader was purchased which used claw-like arms to pull material toward a flight conveyor that then elevated the material so it could be loaded into a shuttle car. About the same time they purchased the gathering arm loader, two Joy battery shuttle cars were purchased. These cars transferred the salt from the face of the mine
EARL BUSH, LEFT, USES A JACKHAMMER TO BREAK LARGE BOULDERS THAT CAME OFF THE SHUTTLE CARS DURING THE SECOND MECHANICAL ERA, THE LATE 1950s AND EARLY ‘60S. (6-52753)
to a fixed loading staTHE UNDERGROUND tion where the mine cars CRUSHING ERA were loaded using a flight In the late 1950s, a plan conveyor. The shuttle car was developed to remedy operators discharged their the boulder problem. Up load (about eight tons) until this time, all primary into the conveyor that and secondary crushing lifted the salt and emptied was done on the surface it into the car. by a crusher fondly reThis mining method ferred to as “Big Bertha.” made it possible to move The new plan, designed the track once, and mine by the F.O. Doty engineerfor months. This new ing and manufacturing technique, borrowed company from Pittsburg, from coal mining, greatly Kansas, was to move the increased efficiency and primary crushing undertons per ground man-hour. and releThere gate Big new mining was still a Bertha to method boosts flaw in this secondary efficiency system, crushing. however. The new and tonnage No matter underhow well ground you strive crusher to create a was a perfect blast, large boulgiant jaw-type crushing ders will still appear. In system. Salt was disthe hand-loading days, charged into a pit from these boulders were brothe shuttle car. A flight ken with a metal spike conveyor then lifted the called a gunior (rhymes salt and dumped it into with junior) and a sledgethe jaw crusher. The jaw hammer. crusher discharged into In the first mechanized another flight conveyor era, this action graduated to using an air-powered jackhammer next to the flight conveyor. If a large rock was in the shuttle car, the operator had to break it up with the jackhammer. If the loader operator at the face noticed the boulder, he could move it to the side. There the driller could drill it and a charge could be set in it to blast later.
which discharged into a set of screens. The salt fines were separated out and sent on a belt to be stored underground for later use. The medium and oversize salt rocks – sometimes as big as eight inches across – were loaded into mine cars via a belt and chute system that allowed for a continuous flow even while changing cars.
MINER PAUL LINSCHEID, ABOVE, OPERATES AN ELECTRIC SHUTTLE CAR LOADED WITH SALT. SHUTTLE CARS HAULED SALT TO THE DOTY CRUSHER. THEY WERE DRIVEN OVER A PIT INTO WHICH THEY DUMPED THEIR ENTIRE LOAD WITHOUT EVEN STOPPING. (KUSM06.02.52)
(See LHDs, page 8)
IN THE 1980S, DIESEL LOAD/ HAUL/DUMP (LHD) VEHICLES TOOK THE PLACE OF THE SHUTTLE CARS AND ARM LOADERS. A SET OF LHD BATTERIES WEIGHED ABOUT THREE TONS. (01.69 LHD)
These “S&S scoops,” as the miners called them, were problematic from the beginning. The scoops were originally designed to handle coal, a lighter substance. As a result, axles broke down and cylinders snapped under the heavier load of salt. The batteries on these machines were lead acid wet cells like the old car batteries. A unique feature of these scoops was the ability to swap batteries when the charge ran low.
LHDs save the day
Crushing the salt underground allowed for more efficient mining and more tonnage hoisted. Since the overall size of the salt was smaller, more could be loaded into the hoist bucket.
(Continued from page 7)
In the late 1970s, there was a high demand for salt when the Cargill mine in Louisiana exploded. The Carey Salt mine went into overdrive to help supply salt for the void left by the Louisiana mine disaster. It quickly became evident that the outdated rail system could not hold up under the stress of nearly continuous use. Rail broke and ties split, causing derailment after derailment. Management at the corporate level knew they had to do something soon and fast. They called once
THE BELTLINE ERA
again upon the F. O. Doty engineering firm to help convert from rail to a conveyor system. A plan to replace the mining equipment was put into place. In 1980 four small battery-powered load-haul dumpers (LHDs) were purchased and put into service.
THIS JOY MECHANICAL LOADERS MANUAL WAS FOUND UNDERGROUND, REPRESENTING THE MINE’S TRANSITION INTO A MORE MECHANIZED ERA.
The batteries were set in a tray in the back of the scoop and hydraulic jacks would lift them up. The scoop was then backed over a stand where the batteries were unloaded. Cables were connected to the charged batteries, and they were set into the compartment. These batteries weighed around three tons a set and were very large. Now, with four scoops in service, the shuttle cars and arm loaders were parked – never to be used again. A Stamler mobile feeder breaker was purchased along with several feet of a Continental snap-together rigid conveyor systen. The Stamler feeder breaker is a mobile crushing machine. The LHDs dumped their loads into the end of the Stamler, then a conveyor chain dragged the salt under a rotating breaker wheel. The salt was then lifted slightly and dumped onto the end of the conveyor belt. When it became necessary to move the crusher farther out to be closer to the face, the Stamler could lift itself up on hydraulic jacks and drive off on crawler tracks. This made for fast conveyer belt extensions.
MULES LIKE THIS ONE IN THE LYONS MINE WERE NEVER FOUND IN THE ALWAYS UP-TO-DATE HUTCHINSON MINE.
With the Stamler in service, the old Doty jaw crusher was decommissioned and left where it was last used. What also made for fast conveyor belt extenuntil it was full. sions was the use of the With the new secondsnap-together conveyor ary crushers installed structure. Typically the underground, Big Bertha conveyor belt is extended topside was no longer with every 250 feet of needed. After 60 mining. Belts came years of service, the in rolls of 500 old crusher was aging feet, exactly what scrapped. big bertha was needed for Once this put out to the mine as each portion of the pasture conveyor belt has conveyor belt a carrying belt and was completed, the a return belt. All these entire rail system was pieces snap together for decommissioned. The quick assembly. locomotives and cars, now After the purchase of on display at the musethis equipment, a hybrid system using both conveyor belt and rail was used from 1980 until 1983.
MINE CLOSES FOR IMPROVEMENTS
In 1983 the mine shut down for two weeks to install a secondary crusher, a surge bin, and a skip-loading system designed by F.O. Doty. Such a system was already used by both the Lyons and Independent Salt mines. The system received salt from the conveyor belt and dumped it into a 100-ton surge bin, which metered out salt as the skip pockets needed it. When the bin got low on salt, it would start the conveyor belt and run
um, were pushed to the north of the shaft and the rail was ripped out along the south entry. As the miners now had no way to get from the face to the shaft, the company bought several battery-powered Cushman utility trucks.
THE DIESEL ERA
After the installation of the conveyor belt system, the company focused on the face-loading system. By this time it was more than apparent that the battery-powered S&S scoops could not hold up as desired. The
(See FIRST, page 10)
CLINTON SANDERS, BELOW, STANDS ON THE OUTSIDE OF â€œBIG BERTHA,â€? THE TOPSIDE CRUSHER USED FOR 60 YEARS UNTIL 1983. (06-10852)
THIS SHUTTLE CAR OPERATED ON BATTERIES. (PHOTO ON LOAN FROM MYRON MARCOTTE)
First diesel bought in 1984 (Continued from page 9)
ONCE THE CONTINENTAL CONVEYOR BELTLINE BELOW WAS FULLY IN PLACE, THERE WAS NO LONGER ANY NEED FOR THE RAIL SYSTEM WITH ITS OUTDATED WOODEN CARS. (01.69)
frames of the machines were fatiguing under the relentless weight of the salt over the roughness of the mine floor. The cost of maintaining these machines was enormous so the company decided to try something they had resisted so far: diesel. In 1984 the company purchased a rebuilt Eimco LHD. It had a Deutz air-
cooled diesel engine. It was big and heavy with six-foot-tall tires and a four-yard bucket, specifically built for underground work. We called it the “915,” its model number, and later just called it “Number 1.” This machine is now on display
at the museum. With the purchase of this first diesel-powered machine came a flood of diesel equipment. An Eimco 210 diesel LHD was purchased and the battery S&S scoops were relegated to moving oil and fuel barrels from the shaft to the face.
MORE DIESEL EQUiPMENT PURCHASED An S10 diesel pick-up was purchased for the foreman as the Cushmans started wearing out. Then a small Ford tractor was bought to be used to pull around powder machine wagons. The Pontiac Bonneville, also now in the museum, was added for use by the maintenance crew. The list goes on and on with more than 30 diesel-powered pieces bought and
used the last 30 years. More recently, two Cat R1600G LHDs with 7.7yard buckets, Numbers 8 and 9 in the LHD series, were purchased. These bigger machines made it possible to run only one loader rather than two.
WHATâ€™S AHEAD FOR SALT MINING? The salt mining industry mirrors the coal mining industry by adapting coal-mining equipment to salt mining. The recent trend in salt mining has been to go to continuous mining machines used in coal mining. Morton and Cargill both have introduced continuous mining techniques to a number of
their mines. Continuous mining technology is the use of a machine that somewhat resembles an arm loader. It has the ability to grind out the salt from the wall of the mine face without the use of explosives. It can then load the salt into shuttle cars for a quick trip to the feeder breaker at the belt head. This process eliminates the use of explosives, drilling and undercutting. The LHDs could be used
instead of shuttle cars but the shuttles carry more salt in one trip. The drawback is that these machines are extremely expensive, and some of the smaller operations will never be able to justify the cost. The mine has responded to changes in demand by increasing the amount of salt they produce as well as their efficiency in producing that salt. The mine and mining will forever change.
BEFORE THE CONVEYOR BELT SYSTEM WAS INTRODUCED, SALT WAS MOVED FROM THE FACE OF THE MINE BY SHUTTLE CARS AND LOADED ONTO RAIL CARS. THIS PHOTOGRAPH REPRESENTS THE COMBINATION OF OLD MINING METHODS (RAIL CARS) AND THE NEW (SHUTTLE CARS AND FLIGHT CONVEYORS). (2005.09 6-60353)
THE MOST RECENT CHANGE IN MECHANIZATION HAS BEEN THE ADDITION OF TWO CAT R1600G LHDS, SUCH AS THIS ONE.
MATT DAMON WORE THIS ARMY UNIFORM AND BOOTS AND GEORGE CLOONEY HANDLED THE MAP IN THE MOVIE “MONUMENTS MEN.” CLIPS FROM THE MOVIE AND A PROMOTIONAL POSTER ROUND OUT THE EXHIBIT.
Strataca’s WW II Exhibits
hree new displays at Strataca are all related to World War II. The topside case, “Remembering World War II,” traces America’s involvement in World War II and features military patches, hats, a purple star and a Carey Salt war atlas. It closes at the end of summer. A second display underground showcases two plaques found underground that contain names of Carey employees who served in the
military. A permanent display, it also includes a fascinating WW II liberation map sponsored by the Carey Salt Company. The third case, in the Underground Vaults & Storage exhibit area, displays props and costume clothing used in the current movie, “Monuments Men,” on loan from Sony Pictures. Be sure to stop by soon to see all these fascinating exhibits.
FOUND UNDERGROUND, THESE TWO PLAQUES LIST CAREY EMPLOYEES WHO SERVED IN THE MILITARY. “PROUDLY WE PAY TRIBUTE TO THE MEMBERS OF OUR ORGANIZATION WHO ANSWERED THE CALL TO COLORS” IS INSCRIBED ON EACH PLAQUE. THE LARGE MAP, SPONSORED BY THE CAREY SALT COMPANY, TRACES THE LIBERATION FRONT DURING WW II.
THE CAREY SALT COMPANY PRODUCED THIS WORLD WAR II ATLAS AND OTHER WAR MAPS, BELOW, AS PATRIOTIC AND PROMOTIONAL DOCUMENTS. IMAGES IN BLUE ARE FROM THE ATLAS. AT RIGHT, STRATACA DOCENT KERRY MORRIS TAKES A CLOSER LOOK AT MILITARY PATCHES.
Call for salt items
orld War II overshadowed the 1940s, including the Carey Salt Company in Hutchinson. The company played its part in the war with promotional maps, booklets that encouraged thrifty spending and cooking, and the supreme sacrifice of mine employees in the military. With all efforts focused on the war, it was perhaps not so surprising that we discovered the scarcity of Carey Salt Company items from the 1940s in the museum collection. If you are interested in donating items related to the local salt industry from that era, we would love to talk to you about them. Please contact the museum curatorial staff. 620-662-1184
MYRON MARCOTTE HOPES TO SEE MORE WORLD WAR II ITEMS LIKE THIS PERIOD MAP IN STRATACAâ€™S COLLECTION.
Strataca has come a....
F By Gayle Ferrell, KUSM Director of Operations
THE STRATACA MANAGEMENT TEAM SHOWN HERE ARE: BACK ROW, FROM LEFT, GAYLON GREEN, CHRISI FUHRMAN, MYRON MARCOTTE, JAY BROWN, DAVE UNRUH FRONT ROW, FROM LEFT, ASHLEY MAREADY, LINDA SCHMITT, GAYLE FERRELL, TONYA GEHRING
our score and seven years ago … well okay, it has not been that long. But there are days when it feels like decades have passed since we opened STRATACA, initially known as the Kansas Underground Salt Museum, to the general public on May 1, 2007. Among the eight operations managers at Strataca, six have been here since we opened, one has been here three years, and one was "here" before anything. Do you realize how special and unusual that is? Jay Brown and I are the only ones who actively gave tours to bus groups
before there was a building. (We love to say, "I remember when…") And when the managers gather together, the pool of knowledge is priceless. STRATACA is very lucky. This group of warriors has seen a lot of tough times and carries some battle wounds that only we discuss. The past seven-plus years could be described as immense financial struggle, but I prefer to think of them as years of financial survival. At any rough spot, there was not one of them who didn't step forward and say, "What do we need to do to survive?" and "Tell
me what you need me to do."
In the beginning: n A $7 million fundraising campaign stalled at $3.5 million in 2001 due to the terrorist attacks and stock market decline. n We agreed to jointly develop a new shaft with Underground Vaults & Storage with a projected museum opening in 2004. The opening was moved to mid-2006, and then delayed until May 2007. n The Justice Foundation pledged $1 million over a 10-year period starting in 2001. n Kansas STAR Bonds
NEW SIGN FOR STRATACA
were pursued as a new source of funding. Request submitted for $4.8M with the project now at about $10.5 million and 50 percent matching funds required. (They were paid off three years early.) n Interactive and technology-savvy exhibit plans were commissioned. n A study by an independent firm estimated firstyear attendance should be 135,000-150,000. n Full-time staff was hired in spring 2006 based on the revised opening date. n Volunteers were expected to cover the majority of staffing needs, so recruiting and training began. (Jay Brown, Shirley Fick and I started volunteering in August 2006, the only ones still active.) n Bus groups had booked trips for 2006 and were offered the chance to see construction. About 80 percent accepted, and the route underground was decided each day based on saltcrete pours. n We rented two yellow port-a-pots for five years and additional units for events. They were transported topside weekly for cleaning.
IF ONLY WE HAD KNOWN THEN...
n The Board might have never started the project if they had known how really difficult it would be. n No matter what the Uniform Commercial Codes or any engineer or architect say, DO NOT install aluminum parts in a salt mine. They will corrode (not rust) and must all be replaced. n We were unique. No other facility in North America has faced the same challenges posed
by mechanical engineering and communication installations in an underground salt mine open to the public. Above-ground applications may not work. This fact resulted in multiple delays and extensive unexpected costs. n The Fire Chief can be – and is – our friend and ally. n Contractors should be shown once, told twice, and checked on three times about leaving gaps for the movement of salt. n Our visitors buy souvenirs in the gift shop, not
LET’S PARTY! THE OPENING OF THE SALT MINE EXPRESS TRAIN WAS REASON TO CELEBRATE … WITH CAKE, OF COURSE!
(See LESSONS, page 16)
THE SALT MINE EXPRESS TRAIN OPENS FOR RIDES ON MARCH 16, 2011.
Lessons learned (Continued from page 15)
eclectic home decorating ground. Most visitors do items. not see what we know n Volunteers do not couldn't be finished or work weekends or holstarted due to funds idays. (There are a few running out. exceptions.) An attraction n We are a seasonal requiring a specific ratio of attraction. Staffing and staff to visitors needs paid budget must follow suit. employees held accountable under an employee “Life isn’t about waiting policy. for the storm to pass…it’s n The original budget was about learning to dance in based on 100,000 annual the rain.” visitors. The first seven – Vivian Greene months attracted 43,000 rather than the budgeted So we DANCED! Be69,000. cause waiting meant n A temporary occupandrowning! cy permit is sometimes n We cut the budget issued when a building based on 100,000 visopens. You need to apply itors to 85,000 and on for a permanent to 54,000. The only occupancy perexpenses safe from we danced mit shortly after cuts were hoist because opening. maintenance and waiting meant n Back-up parts utilities. drowning are expensive to n We cut staff stock but can be positions, not just priceless—such as employees. Duties the $700 fuse that blew were distributed, meanthe day before our busiest ing more hours but not weekend of the year. We more pay. had to remain closed. n To generate revenue, n The main draw is the a Scout Overnight Unchance to go underderground was held on
December 8, 2007. Additional overnights quickly sold out, and staff took turns spending the night in addition to their regular work week. n A fire protection engineer was hired in 2008 to evaluate our fire safety and life protection systems. The final document was approved by the State Fire Marshal and local Fire Chief in February 2012, four long years – and additional expense – later. Permanent occupancy was approved. n Winter days were staffed by four managers who drew straws when visitors arrived. Short straw “won” to go underground! n We opened evenings with free admission for registered voters when the City Council changed the quarter-percent sales tax allocation to include us. Approved overwhelmingly in 2008, our five percent provides us with approximately $100,000 per year which goes toward marketing.
n We purchased a used image to being an adventrain (engine and three ture rather than a musecars) in July 2009, and um. STRATACA was born started retrieving rails and on June 1, 2013! ties from the mine to build n More dollars are still an underground train needed for marketing to ride. Our hope? "Build it reach more people and and they will come." Lackincrease attendance. ing funds for additions, n Our events are highly we asked donors to consuccessful but handled tribute to the "Salt by the same staff Circle." We raised needed for daipipe dream $28,100. The ly operations. turns into cost was $40,800 Our goal: more underground plus thousands visitors = higher bathrooms of hours of staff revenue = budget labor. It opened on for more staff. March 16, 2011. n The new Salt Safari n For five years, I called Mine Adventure, a rugthe unfinished underged trek into the mine, ground bathroom complex opened in November 2013 my "pipe dream" as pipe – another new revenue stubs were all we had. stream, yet again, using We kicked off another the same staff. "Salt Circle" and started n Grants have been running supply lines in received from Shell Oil to January 2012. Donors begin design and develcontributed $31,500 opment of a real geology toward the $81,000 cost, exhibit with a total cost of and bathrooms opened in late March. Motto? “Build it and they will GO!” (photo pg 18) n Murder in the Mine dinner theatres changed from fancy dinners to buffet-style BBQ with regular dates each year—and sold out time after time. n Our line of credit balance was $345,000 in December 2008. It was only $34,000 in December 2010, paid off shortly after, and has remained zero to this day.
n A geology badge was added to some scout overnights in 2012. A mining badge will be added soon. n We hired a new marketing agency to change our
$385,000. It will be the focus of our next Salt Circle. n Progress continues in the Miner's Life exhibit, including a trash cube, “Dirty Jobs” vehicle, video of current miners, and military artifacts. n Snacks and bottled water are now offered for sale underground as visitors are now lingering longer in the galleries where new items are continually added. n A small topside gift shop has been added for those who cannot go underground or just need a gift. n We’re raising money for the "Boom Room" that will simulate the experience of standing at the mine face during a blast! n Our corner sign has been updated to feature the new STRATACA logo. n A grant has been submitted to fund paint-
(See page 18)
THE ATTIC, A TOPSIDE GIFT SHOP SHOWN BELOW, OFFERS A VARIETY OF MEMENTOS.
ONLY THE PIPE STUBS POPULATED THE WOULD-BE UNDERGROUND BATHROOM COMPLEX FOR YEARS BEFORE ITS COMPLETION IN MARCH.
(Continued from page 17) ing our exterior that has taken a "salt and wind" beating and needs rust attention. “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” – Winston Churchill This sign has been on my wall as long as I can remember. I prefer to think that we have moved from challenge to challenge. Frederick Douglass said, "If there is no struggle, there is no progress." That being true, we must be on the road to huge success!
Strataca named one of the top museums worth visiting
o what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends.” – Walt Disney If you google “customer service quotes,” you will find hundreds of examples, some more than a thousand years old. And they all emphasize the importance of the consumer. Competition is so intense today for all products and services that we have almost limitless choices. First impressions often make all the difference in what we choose.
Strataca was chosen largely based on scores of positive customer reviews. Until the list was published online, we didn’t even realize we were being considered. TripAdvisor is the world’s largest travel website, boasting 260 million users a week and more than 100 million Internet users. Everyone at Strataca loves being recognized for
KEY TO SUCCESS
Books are written about customer relations, courses are taught, degrees are issued, and training is offered because great service is paramount if a business is to succeed. At Strataca we always put customer service first. From the first phone inquiry until the guest leaves the parking lot, we do everything possible to ensure that each visitor feels informed, safe and valued. If for some reason they don’t, we go the extra mile to make it right.
WE’RE WORTH IT!
Recently this was proven by the selection of Strataca by FlipKey, an affiliate of TripAdvisor, for inclusion in its “50 States Series, Top Museums Worth Traveling For.”
providing an incredible underground adventure. We are true believers in the following quote from Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO: “We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.” ______________ Check out all the honorees at: http:// www.flipkey.com/ blog/2014/03/17/50states-series-top-museums-worth-traveling-for/
(See related story, “KOURTNEY,” on page 24)
Linda Schmitt Executive Director, Reno County Historical Society
IN OUR “HEROES, HELMETS & HOLSTERS” PROGRAM, TIPS WERE GIVEN ON HOW TO AVOID MOTH DAMAGE AND CORROSION AS IN THIS MILITARY CAP. A DETAIL OF THE CORROSION IS VISIBLE BELOW. (1986.23.42)
Preserving Reno County
THE DAMAGED TINTYPE AT RIGHT APPEARS TO HAVE BEEN “DOCTORED” ON THE COMPUTER TO HIGHLIGHT THE INDIVIDUAL IN THE MIDDLE. SCANNING A DAMAGED PHOTO CAN HELP PRESERVE AND IMPROVE IT. (1991.48.48)
new program series, introduced this year by the Reno County Museum, is already half over! As of this writing, three of our six programs have come to pass, and we are looking ahead to the final three! We conceived of Reno County Treasures: Talks, Tips, & Treats as a way to reach out to Reno County citizens and teach them a little more about caring for their family treasures as well as give them an opportunity to enjoy delicious treats and show off some of their favorite things. Coming up next are: On August 14 “No Dog Ears Allowed!” will be a workshop on book care and repair. Participants must RSVP to the Reno County Museum and pay
to participate as we will be providing materials and instructions for repairing your treasured books! On October 28 we’re putting on a Halloween party with “Dragons, Gargoyles, & Cauldrons!” Bring your creepy collectibles along! And to “wrap” up the year, “Christmas Ornaments: Past & Present” will focus on caring for and showing off your favorite Christmas tree ornaments and holiday décor.
In February our first program was “Whatever Happened to Cousin Phil? Saving Family Photos.” We are proud to offer it as a permanent addition to our collection of educational programs for interested groups. Our second program,
“Hello Dolly! Have Some Tea!” was a smash hit in April, drawing nearly 40 guests. We served iced tea, dainty tea cookies, and showed off antique dolls from the 19th and 20th centuries from our collection. Our guests
DOLL LOVERS WERE ABLE TO INSPECT THE MUSEUM’S DOLLS CLOSELY WHILE CURATOR ASHLEY MAREADY DESCRIBES THEM.
brought their dolls along and, in a few cases, even dressed up like dolls themselves! Most recently, our military antiques program, “Heroes, Helmets, & Holsters,” drew in a handful of participants to talk about their service and the helmets, uniforms and other items they keep from that time. Some of the interesting helmets, hats, patches and swords from artifact storage were also brought in for the evening. “Reno County Treasures: Talks, Tips, & Treats” is one more way the Reno County Museum is helping you keep your stories alive!
THOSE IN THE PHOTO PRESERVATION CLASS WERE ABLE TO TAKE HOME A PHOTO-HANDLING KIT: ARCHIVAL PHOTO BOX, COTTON GLOVES, AND PHOTOSAFE PENCIL AND POCKETS.
...from hiring older workers
By Linda Schmitt, RCHS Executive Director
s an (ahem) older worker myself, of course, I heartily concur with this statement! Strataca was in the news for receiving the Kansas Department of Commerce Employer of the Older Worker award April 24 in Topeka. Below are comments made about Strataca at the ceremony: Outstanding Employer of the Older Worker – Reno County Historical Society: Strataca Strataca is the Kansas Underground Salt Muse-
um, an attraction that is 650 feet below ground in an active salt mine and is part of the Reno County Historical Society. Approximately 50,000 visitors tour the mine each year. Strataca has an excellent record of promoting, recruiting and retaining older workers. Of the 36 staff, 27 are older workers, including most of the organization’s leadership. The museum offers flexible work hours and provides staff training that reflects the strengths and interests of each employee. Strataca’s commitment to older
workers is also important to its young employees who witness the work ethic and energy of their older counterparts as they work together. We are very proud of this designation and of our many mature employees and volunteers!
ON HAND TO ACCEPT THE AWARD WERE, FROM LEFT, DOCENT RALPH HACKLER; OPERATIONS MANAGER TONYA GEHRING; DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS GAYLE FERRELL; AND DOCENT PATTIE BELDEN.
Chalkfest 2014 C
tony withrow, above, winner in the 18+ age category, shows off his drawing of superman vs batman. top right, rchs executive director linda schmitt helps two boys register for the drawing. middle right, rchs board member laura snyder helps a young girl with a whirly-gig at the old-fashioned games area. at right, vibrant chalk art comes alive as these young artists work intently on their creations.
halk it up to Kansas weather, but after a cold and rainy April, RCM finally had its 2014 Chalk Fest on May 15. About 100 chalk artists were able to enjoy a fun evening of old-fashioned games, bubbles and, of course, chalk drawing!
Congratulations to this year’s winners: Ages 1-5: Carson White Ages 6-11: Anna Cullens Ages 12-17: Steven Hayse Ages 18+: Tony Withrow Thanks to all our volunteers: Richard Ewing, Laura Snyder, Karen Fager, Mae Boggs, Mike Massie and Richard Shank. Also thanks to judges: Richard Shank, Myron Marcotte and Aaron Napier.
We really appreciate the support that the following businesses have shown with their generous donations: Strataca, Skateland, Fazoli’s, Wendy’s, Hastings and Advertising Specialties and Design. Steven Rousey provided wonderful entertainment
for the evening. And thanks to Ad Astra Per Aspera Broadcasting who came out for a live remote. Thanks to everyone for coming out. We hope to see you all again next year!
Smallville ComicCon By Ashley Maready, RCHS Chief Curator he first annual Smallville ComicCon was held in Hutchinson on June 21 and 22! My better half, Mike Massie, and I ran a booth for Strataca at the convention on the Kansas State Fairgrounds. The ComicCon was a smash hit, drawing in about 2,500 people and 60 exhibitors. Many people came costumed as their favorite comic book superheroes or supervillains, and there was even a costume contest.
IN THE SPIRIT
On Saturday I got into the costume fun by playing Louise Belcher, my favorite character from “Bob’s Burgers,” a cartoon sitcom. Booths were devoted to comic books (of course!), costume pieces, jewelry, video games, toys and art. The Strataca booth featured information about the museum, our upcoming events and programs, such as the Salt Safari Adventure, Murder in the Mine dinner theatres, and Hunt for Red Rocktober.
We offered a special weekend admission deal to ComicCon participants. A ComicCon wristband was good for free gallery admission to Strataca for Saturday and Sunday only, so visitors could see the movie costumes and
AT STRATACA’S BOOTH, CHIEF CURATOR ASHLEY MAREADY, DECKED OUT IN LOUISE BELCHER BUNNY EARS, STANDS BEHIND A CHUNK OF THE EERIE “KRYPTONITE SALT.”
props in the Underground Vaults & Storage exhibit. But the highlight of the Strataca booth was a piece of “Kryptonite salt!” We displayed a nice chunk of clear rock salt, lit from beneath by a special green light bulb, and housed in a black box to enhance its eerie glow. I warned all the Supermen we encountered to be cautious and stay back! This was a unique opportunity to promote Strataca to a different crowd, and to entice some new visitors underground to see what we have to offer! The success of this year’s Smallville ComicCon has ensured that there will be another one next year. And we can’t wait!
Goodbye & good luck! By Gayle Ferrell, KUSM Director of Operations
I KOURTNEY KREHBIEL HAMS IT UP FOR THE CAMERA WITH HER POSITIVE ATTITUDE AND “PROGRESSIVE” CUSTOMER SERVICE!
(Read about Strataca’s recognition for outstanding customer service on page 19.)
n June we said, “Good bye and good luck” to Kourtney Krehbiel who had served as Director of Visitor Services at Strataca. Kourtney has been the voice and face of ultimate customer service – first part-time for three years, then full-time for three more years. When she graduated from Kansas State University, she was not sure how she wanted to use her degree. We gladly offered her full-time employment until she figured it out. Each year she was told that when she found an opportunity to use her degree in a way she wanted, we would be both glad for her and very sad for us. Little did I know when I said it again three weeks ago that her opportunity was on the horizon. She is going to work for the Department of Children and
Families located in South Hutchinson. The managers at Strataca are fully aware that Kourtney played an instrumental part in establishing and developing our
reputation for impeccable customer service – and she leaves some pretty big shoes to fill. Someone else will do her job, but no one will replace her.
RENO COUNTY MUSEUM’S NEW WEBSITE, DESIGNED BY LOGICMAZE OF HUTCHINSON, HAS IT ALL! EASY TO USE, THE SITE FEATURES COLORFUL IMAGES AND UP-TODATE INFORMATION ON EVENTS, PROGRAMS, EXHIBITS AND EVERYTHING YOU’D LIKE TO KNOW ABOUT THE MUSEUM. VISIT US AT WWW. RENOCOMUSEUM.ORG.
trataca Citizens and Reno County Museum StoryKeepers – we thank you for your support! *New member
Blasters Martha Fee Tucker and Nation Meyer Merl Sellers
Miners Boeing Company for Prevost
Pickers Margaret and Elwin Cabbage *Helen Rosenblad
General Donors Gladys S. Bos Karen Hall Orr
Diggers Larry and Marilyn Bolton *Jan and David Hickman *Del and Carol Hueske Tom and Kyle Philbeck Dr. & Mrs. David and Nancy Richman Sam and Judy Ontjes
RCM STORYKEEPERS Caretakers Margaret and Elwin Cabbage Judith Mielke *Helen Rosenblad
Restorers Martha Fee Dan and Georgia Maxwell Guardians Tucker and Nation Meyer Merl Sellers General Donors / In-kind Donations Abe’s Tree Removal Advertising Specialties and Design Gladys S. Bos Dillon Stores Fazoli’s Hastings Karen Hall Orr Skateland Strataca Walmart Bogey’s
In memory of Bill …
ong-time friend, supporter, and member of the Reno County Historical Society, William D. “Bill” Rexroad passed away at 81 years of age on May 6, 2014. For many years, Bill was the plant manager of the Carey Salt Company. He was also the founder and president of Electrex Inc., an electrical harness wiring company. He was also a 33-year member of the Hutchinson Symphony, a storyteller, an entertainer, and the author of 13 published books. An avid fan of the creation of the Kansas Underground Salt Museum (now Strataca), Bill videoed many Carey Salt miners’ histories.
Thanks to all those who contributed to the Reno County Historical Society in memory of Bill: Elizabeth Andrews Susan & Roger Byler Elwin and Margaret Cabbage Hugh Carter Circles of Hope Reno County, Board, volunteers and participants Lisa & Elza Clark Mary Cline Dale Conkling Logan & Cara Dater Roger & Pam Dater Bob & Jan Durbin Ken & Fifi Eckrote Beulah Foster Richard & Karen Fulk Duane & Nettie Graham Eldon & Barbara Gray Gaylon & Ruby Green Sarah Friesen Randy Henderson
Vernon & Margo Imes Kansas Glass: Pam Heimerman, Jeff & Brenda Pennick Johnnie & Cindy Koger Lawrence Chamber of Commerce: Directors and staff Myrna Moorman Karin Rexroad David & Rose Robinson Don & Karla, Mike & Connie Rumback Jack & Arvilla Sampson Ron & Laverle Schrag Ret. Col. & Mrs. M.S. Shaffer Charles Sheppard Robert & Laura Sidlinger Louis & Donna Slusser John & Barbara Summervill Sharon & Frank Tammen James & Betty Taylor Mary Al Titus Sandra Vandevander Donna & Larry Welch Keith & Barbara Zody
Murder in the Mine
Interactive Mystery Dinner Theatre STRATACA HOURS 9 am–6 pm Tues–Sat 1–6 pm Sunday closed Mondays last tour departs at 4 pm advance reservations strongly recommended allow about two hours for your adventure SALT BLAST PASS our best deal includes gallery tour, dark ride (both handicapped-accessible) and train ride: adults: $19 seniors (60+), AAA and active military: $17 children (4-12): $12.50 reno county residents: $14 strataca citizens: $7 children under 4 not admitted due to mine safety regulations. pricing available to add only dark ride or train ride to gallery admission. all prices include sales tax. special pricing for groups over 28 and school groups with arrangements made one week in advance. 3650 e. avenue g
(at airport road) hutchinson, ks 67501 620-662-1425 toll-free 866-755-3450 underkansas.org
$55 per person / $400 for table of 8 Doors open at 5 p.m. Last trip underground: 6:15 p.m. Must be 18 years or older due to adult humor Should you attend, we promise to deliver murder, mayhem and hilarious madness. Make your reservations soon as these events fill up quickly. August 23: “A Very Brady Murder” Come and learn the real story behind that nice Brady family. And you thought they were such sweet kids! December 12: “I Saw Mommy Killing Santa Claus” What’s that Mommy up to? Is she naughty? Or is she nice?? You’ll have to be there to find out what happens in this merry Christmas spoof.
Spaghetti Western Dinner & Music
Salt Safari Mine Adventure Select Fridays and Saturdays, 1 to 4 p.m. Limit: 20 hikers Must be 13 years or older Advance online reservations required This challenging, rugged hike will explore raw areas of the mine, cover many miles, and last up to three hours. Hike is not handicapped-accessible.
For details and reservations for all events: underkansas.org 620-662-1425 or 866-755-3450
Sunday, September 21 3 to 7 p.m. $35 per person Strataca Underground Hear the Diamond W Wranglers sing selections from all your favorite “spaghetti westerns” while you enjoy delicious spaghetti!
Hunt for Red Rocktober Saturday, October 4 3 to 6 p.m. $25 per person Strataca Underground Search for that elusive perfect red salt rock! Must be at least 13 years old.
CHECK OUT STRATACA ATTRACTIONS ON BACK COVER.
RENO COUNTY MUSEUM
EVENTS & EXHIBITS Reno County Treasures: Talks, Tips, & Treats
this little guy will join us for the october program, “dragons, gargoyles & cauldrons” in october. he was donated to our collection by phyllis hopper in 2005.
These fun, informal workshops will focus on education and preservation with show-and-tell and treats! (See related story, page 20)
August 14 – No Dog Ears Allowed: Book repair and preservation, 7-9 p.m. ($15; registration required) October 28 – Dragons, Gargoyles, & Cauldrons: 7-9 p.m. ($)
RENO COUNTY MUSEUM HOURS
December 6 – Trimming the Tree: Ornaments Past & Present: 1-2:30 p.m.
9 am–5 pm tues-Fri 11-5 saturday closed sunday and monday
free admission unless otherwise noted
December 13, 10-noon Create some crafty, cheery holiday gifts. ($1.50 per child for crafts)
100 S. Walnut 620-662-1184
December 18, 5:30-7:30 Time to pile on icing, sugsee these stickpins in reno county’s “jewelry box.” ar crystals and sprinkles.
RCM on the Road… Comes Home
Tough, Rough & Ready: Reno County Tools A-Z
From 2011 to 2012, RCM travelled to 14 Reno County communities to display artifacts from those towns. The exhibits stayed up for six months. Now we are bringing this exhibit back to Hutchinson for all to see. Also we are accepting photographs of current and historical items relating to any of the Reno County cities. We’ll display them along with this exhibit.
This tool-tally awesome exhibit displays an amazing variety of tools that built Reno County from the ground up.
A Peek Inside Reno County’s Jewelry Box From rhinestones to fine gold, see what adornment Reno Countians have been wearing from the mid-1880s through the 1960s.
Hail to the Hall: 100 Years of Convention Hall This exhibit traces the history of Hutchinson’s historic Convention Hall and officially displays the items from the Convention/Memorial Hall 1911 time capsule box.
Transportation Gallery See the Schuttler wagon, an Amish buggy, the Indian motorcycle, sidecar and much more.
f email us snapshots of your community and we will post them along with the “on the road” exhibit. send to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
THE ONLY CONSTANT IN THIS MINE IS CHANGE PAGE 4 reno county historical society p.o. box 664 hutchinson, kansas 67504-0664
return service requested
If your address changes, please call us at 620-662-1184.
STRATACA ATTRACTIONS The Shaft See this engineering marvel that houses the sixton double-decker hoist that transports visitors 650’ below ground. Stratadome Intriguing and palatial, experience the grandeur of this vaulted salt room. Play in the Permian Playground filled with a variety of hands-on salt. Salt secrets exposed! Mining Gallery See the Myron-mobile, a post-apocalyptic looking car driven by Mike Rowe, the host of the TV show “Dirty Jobs.” Discover modern day mining practices versus mining in the past. Find out what a day in the life of a miner is really like.
Harry’s Habitat (Dr. Vreeland’s Fluid Inclusion Exhibit) The world’s oldest living organism, nearly 250 million years old and once encapsulated inside a salt crystal, is a resident of Strataca. Learn about its discoverers, Dr. Russell Vreeland and his team.
GE Engine No. 2 One of only three such engines ever built, it is now on display outside of Strataca. Built in 1919, the train ran along a short railway line from 1928 to 1963 that provided switching services for the Carey plant and mine.
Salt Mine Express This 15-minute train ride is a narrated, guided tour through a part of the mine that was active in the 1940s and ‘50s.
The Iodine Deficiency and Disorder Story Explore the efforts of Kiwanis International and UNICEF in using salt to combat the devastating effects of iodine deficiency.
The Dark Ride Your personal guide delivers fascinating information on a 30-minute tram ride where you experience true “mining dark” and collect your souvenir piece of salt.
The Story of Underground Vaults & Storage View costumes and props from your favorite movies in this exhibit focusing on a unique underground storage business.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON EXHIBITS AND EVENTS AT OUR MUSEUMS, SEE PAGES 26-27.
At one time loading salt was back breaking work; however, throughout the years the Carey Salt Company constantly improved their equipment t...
Published on Aug 1, 2014
At one time loading salt was back breaking work; however, throughout the years the Carey Salt Company constantly improved their equipment t...