Salt Discovery in Kansas

Finding the Unexpected

On one of our recent Kansas trips (there have been a lot lately, haven’t there?), Laura saw a sign near South Hutchinson that said, “Salt Discovery Site”. That sounded interesting enough, and we needed gas from the nearby gas station anyway, so we checked it out.

As it turns out, the location was where salt was discovered in Kansas way back in 1887! Admittedly, I did not know that Kansas was a major salt-producing location, but it is. Back in 1887, Ben Blanchard was wanting to drum up business for his real estate holdings in the area, so he drilled for oil. But instead of oil, he found salt. Lots and lots and lots of salt. Enough salt, in fact, that the salt industry in our present time is still one of the largest employers of the area. All because a guy was looking for oil.

Salt Discovery site in South Hutchinson, Kansas

A few years ago in 2007, Ben Blanchard’s original well was found again under several feet of dirt. It is now enclosed with a glass window above it, and that is the well in the photo above. It doesn’t look like much to spawn a whole salt industry, but it did.

A 1,260 pound salt block at the Salt Discovery site in South Hutchinson, Kansas

Also on display was this 1,260 pound salt block. I will take their word for it, as I did not try to lift it myself. 1,000 pounds is about my lifting limit, or maybe that comma should have been a decimal point. Anyway, it was pretty cool to see a huge rock of salt in its natural form.

We put salt blocks out for the horses to lick, because they apparently need more salt in their diet. I bet they could lick up a salt rock like this in no time at all! But then we would have to fill up the water trough a lot more often.

Salt Discovery site in South Hutchinson, Kansas

So now, this site has been appropriately marked, and it was a fun place for us to stop off and learn a little bit about local history. Just another one of those fun things that we like to find. And another reminder that every place, and everyone, has a story to tell. Sometimes you just have to ask. Or stop to read a sign.

Bonus Photos

United States Armed Forces monument at South Hutchinson, Kansas

Just across the drive from the Salt Discovery site is a monument to veterans and active service personnel of the United States Armed Forces who are from this area. It was very interesting to see, even if we did not know anyone who was listed on the monument. It is always great to see a community support those who have served or are serving now.

Water tower at South Hutchinson, Kansas

As we were finishing up our quick stop at the Salt Discovery site, it was starting to get dark. For whatever reason, I liked the way that the South Hutchinson water tower looked against the evening sky. On our even more recent trip than this one, I saw the water tower and thought, “That water tower looks familiar. Oh yeah, I took a photo of it!” I love Rural American scenes sometimes.

Sunset at South Hutchinson, Kansas

And as we were about to drive away, the sun was just sinking below the horizon. So I got my camera back out for one last photo. Who doesn’t love an evening sky like that one? It was beautiful!

Don’t Give Up

Just imagine that you have some big dream. You are looking for something, and you are doing all that you can to find it. And then just when you think you have found it, you find…something else completely. What do you do? Give up? Keep searching? Embrace what you have found?

That is similar to the story of Ben Blanchard. He was looking for oil, and ended up with salt. And his story does not end happily, because his real estate deals fell through and he ended up in financial trouble. But the people of the area embraced the salt find, and the first salt-producing plant was established a year later.

Everyone is looking for something. I am guessing that includes you. You might not find what you are looking for. But you might end up finding something better, something that you had never thought of finding. Take that and run with it!

Sometimes in our searches, we are looking for what everyone has. Again, paralleling this story, oil was big back then. Lots of places were discovering oil. Salt was big, too, but not as widespread as oil. So salt turned out to be at least as big of a blessing as oil would have been. If you find something that makes you different from everyone else, run with that, too! Don’t be afraid to be different.

I knew all through elementary school that I wanted to be in the high school band when I had the chance. And I wanted to play the trumpet. That is what all the cool guys played, I thought. When my time came to be in the band, I signed up to play the trumpet. And so did everyone else. I had put trombone as my second choice for some unknown reason, and apparently, most others had not put down a second choice at all. The band director encouraged me to play the trombone instead, and I agreed to it, maybe slightly reluctantly. As it turned out, I loved the trombone! It was perfect for me, better than the trumpet would have been. My trombone and I went pretty far and had lots of adventures. It was different from what I thought I was searching for, but it was great!

Sometimes, unexpected things can be great blessings. Just like salt.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. - Ephesians 1:3

About the Photos

For various reasons, I have delayed a little in posting these Salt Discovery photos, as other things have come up. So these photos were actually from the first trip that I took with the Rokinon 35mm f/1.8 lens. Even though it was starting to get dark out, I was able to open the aperture wide and still have plenty of light for these photos. It was a good use for that lens!

Photo: Each photo is a single Raw exposure, processed in Luminar Neo. Read more about photography tips, photo software, camera gear, and more at Steve’s Photography Tips.
Camera: Sony Alpha A7 II
Lens: Rokinon 35mm f/1.8
Date: March 19, 2022
Location: South Hutchinson, Kansas

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Burnsland is Steve Burns, with generous help from his lovely wife Laura. Steve is a husband, father, photographer, webmaster, writer, podcaster, artist, Christian. Steve enjoys sharing his photography, art, and stories through, from the Burnsland World Headquarters in Tennessee.