Kansas City, MO

The interesting artificial cave known as SubTropolis is a gold mine for companies

CJ Coombs

SubTropolis.Americasroof at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

What is SubTropolis?

There are a lot of interesting places to go and see in Missouri if you put the time into discovering all of them. If anything, the SubTropolis is an interesting subject.

SubTropolis is massive. Located in the bluffs above the Missouri River, it’s an artificial cave spanning 1,100 acres or 55 million square feet. SubTropolis is allegedly the largest underground storage facility.

What is SubTropolis? SubTropolis was created through the mining of a 270-million-year-old limestone deposit. In the mining process, limestone is removed by the room and pillar method, leaving 25-foot square pillars that are on 65-foot centers and 40 feet apart. (Source.)

SubTropolis developer

With its trademarked phrase, World’s Largest Underground Business Complex®, SubTropolis through the Hunt Midwest Real Estate Development, Inc. was developed by the late Lamar Hunt, former Kansas City Chiefs owner.

SubTropolis, a sprawling industrial park that’s underground, is one of those places you might not go visit, but it makes an interesting subject to read about.

One of the most interesting aspects of SubTropolis, however, is that it’s open to the public. Anybody can drive into one entrance of the mine and out another. That being said, it’s not clear how exhaust fumes are removed from the facility. We assume the site has some manner of ventilation system, though. (Source.)

During the 1960s, Ford used SubTropolis to store its vehicles. Other tenants in 1964 included Russell Stover and Pillsbury. Before then in the 1940s, it was a mining process on a 270-million-year-old limestone deposit, called Bethany Falls. The deposits were recycled into the city including pavement.

Some facilities in SubTropolis are open to the public.

While in SubTropolis, swing by Bird’s Botanicals, a colorful flower garden filled with exotic orchids that’s open to the public on Tuesdays. (Source.)

The 40th anniversary of the Groundhog Run previously scheduled for January 30, 2022, was postponed to Sunday, August 7, 2022. The race benefits children with disabilities who receive services at Ability KC. Athletes get to participate in 5K, 10K, and "Tunnel-to-Tunnel experiences" in a consistent temperature of 65 to 68 degrees along paved underground streets inside the SubTropolis. Click here to register.

Take advantage of the opportunity to celebrate with us and be a part of history. In honor of our 40th year anniversary, Gus is kicking it back to the 80’s! Dig up your favorite 80’s attire and run / walk to some groovy music. We have fun and creative activities instore for you. Stay tuned for more details. (Source.)

Why keep anything underground?

There are several important reasons for underground storage. One is temperature control. You don’t have temperature changes or humidity as you do above ground, so underground storage has no condensation and is also more energy-efficient for tenants who use the facility for storage.

There are extensive paved streets of completely dry storage spaces that are brightly lit. Everything underground is protected from weather elements, especially tornadoes.

SubTropolis is also a business complex where some companies actually perform business. With all the impressive details, it would be a unique place to go to and drive through for a meeting.

SubTropolis tenants also save an average of 30–50% on rent compared to aboveground facilities due to the cheap cost to develop space underground. (Source.)
Interior of SubTropolis.Photo by: ErgoSum88, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Government locations listed below use the facility for storage:

  • The United States Postal Service
  • The United States Environmental Protection Agency
  • The United States National Archives and Records Administration

SubTropolis is also near other Hunt developed projects--the amusement parks Worlds of Fun and Oceans of Fun.

The below video provides a glimpse into the limestone structure as well as some of the items stored. It's not just an interesting facility. It claims to have gone green long before going green became popular.

Thank you for reading.

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Multi-genre writer and indie author; 30 years of legal secretarial experience; BA in Eng Journalism & Creative Writing. Thinker, giver, and lover of life. Born into Air Force service life, life has taken me to Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Missouri. I love family, art, truth, non-fiction, reading, history, and travel.

Kansas City, MO

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