Koppenhaver (koppenhaver) wrote in midwesterners,

Springfield Underground

In the 1950's, Henry Griesemer began mining limestone from his farm located along historic Route 66 east of Springfield, Missouri. His mining technique, known as the "room and pillar" method, left behind vast open areas underground. By the 1960's, over a quarter million square feet of open space one hundred feet below the surface of the ground had been created by the extracted limestone.

In an extremely wise and resourceful business move, Mr. Griesemer began renting out this storage space. Due to the constant temperature underground, it made for an especially ideal location for food storage. And so, Kraft Foods became the first, and to this day still, the biggest tenant. Rail cars routinely drop off large shipments of cheese to age in Mr. Griesemer's man-made cavern.

But Kraft is not alone in utilizing this storage facility. Several food companies have taken advantage of the reduced costs of keeping their products cool more cost effectively underground where the air temperature stays a constant 58 degrees.

In a technologically advancing world where uninterrupted digital communication has become so important, computer servers have also been finding a home under Mr. Griesemer's farm. And that's precisely what afforded me the opportunity to partake in a guided tour of what is now known simply as Springfield Underground. A software company that my employer has contracted with wanted to show us first hand just how secure our new computer server was.

It was an impressive display of security. In addition to being located 100 feet below ground and completely surrounded by solid limestone, no less than 5 security gates need to be negotiated before reaching our server - some gates with air lock systems; others requiring fingerprint verification. Further, the number of back up layers guaranteeing an uninterrupted electrical feed to the server was equally impressive.

Limestone continues to be mined from under the farm that the Griesemer family still owns. And so, storage capacity of Springfield Underground continues to grow. As their website declares, it's now 2.2 million square feet and expanding.

It was a great tour and once again reminded me that the opportunities provided by my profession to travel this country and see cool places like Springfield Underground will never be taken for granted.

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