Planes, Trains & Neutrinos

Tech Tours are the mid-conference break from presentations and a chance to see unique and interesting facets of each state.  The WASHTO 2018 Tech Tours offer a wide variety of opportunities that I like to call Planes, Trains and Neutrinos.  

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Planes.  If you want to see some planes, then the tour of Ellsworth Air Force Base is your tour.  Ellsworth Airforce Base is the home of the 28th Bomb Wing – one of only two B-1B bases in the world.   It also has the South Dakota Air & Space Museum which has 30 vintage military aircraft from World War II to the B-1 bomber.  There are both indoor and outdoor displays that span aviation history and innovation.  Also included in this unique tour of the base is a tour of a Minuteman II Missile Silo.  This is the only Minuteman II silo in the nation that allows the public to go inside the installation.  Don’t forget your I.D. to get through security at the base.  

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Trains.  Bridge and train enthusiasts, I’ve got the tour for you.  On the way to the 1880 train, we’re going to take you by a unique structure.  The Keystone Wye bridge is an interchange featuring two unique structural glued laminated timber bridges.  It was constructed in 1967-68 as part of a project to convert US 16 to a four-lane highway.  You’ll learn a lot more about the concept to construction on your way to Keystone.  Once in Keystone you’ll hop aboard the 1880 Train.  This historical steam train experience is narrated and fun for all ages.  When you arrive at Hill City, you’ll have a chance to tour the State Railroad Museum before heading back to Rapid City 

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Neutrinos.  What in the heck do neutrinos have to do with anything?  It’s all the rage in Lead, South Dakota.  At the Sanford Underground Research Facility, scientists are trying to solve the most fundamental questions about the universe in the old Homestake Gold Mine.  Once the largest gold mine in the western hemisphere, now the mine is home to groundbreaking research on the mysteries of neutrinos and the search for dark matter.  Your tour includes a trip through historic Lead, and a surface tour of Sanford Underground Research Facility. In the Yates hoist room, you’ll see hoists that have been in operation since 1939, including how they are maintained. You’ll also learn about the more-than 5,000 feet of rope that take personnel to the underground. If you’re lucky, you may even see the hoists in action. You’ll also learn a little bit about the mining process and the state-of-the-art Waste Water Treatment Plant designed by Homestake Mining Company and still used today by Sanford Underground Research Facility.  

Whether you opt for planes, trains or neutrinos, you can’t go wrong.  There’s something for everyone.