Soudan, MN (NNCNOW.com)
The Soudan Mine spent about eighty years pulling iron from the earth.
For the last 50 years it's been a state park.
That park is now named the "Number One Nerd Road Trip in America" by Popular Science Magazine.
It's the High Energy Physics Lab and its neutrino detector located twenty three hundred feet underground that has piqued the interest of the science crowd.
"To detect neutrinos, we have to have such a huge detector; that five thousand ton steel stop sign you see behind me." said lab tourguide Cory Kolodji.
Scientists also work on other disciplines besides particle physics on the 27th level of the old mine.
"We've got researchers from UMD coming up here for geology and the Precambrian Institute is coming up." said James Pointer of the Minnesota DNR.
Word that a national publication has named the mine number one sits well with the people who run the mine and physics lab – even if it means an influx of nerds.
"Nerds rule. Most people work for nerds so it's okay to be the gathering place of nerds in the nation. That's a good thing." said Kolodji.
In fact, some of the staff members admit to having a touch of nerdiness.
"I'm a bit of a nerd. Not full blown. I'm a little more mechanically inclined than most nerds." said intern Eric Villadsen.
Are the people of Soudan inclined to welcome a herd of nerds if they obey the magazine and hit the road?
Well, the town's only store would welcome the business.
"They don't check your passport to see if you are a real Soudanese or not." said Soudan resident Al Reller.
"And so, in the end, the folks of Soudan will welcome in any nerds that want to come. After all, it's the Minnesota nice thing to do." said Dave Anderson.
"We're ready as nerds would be to greet other nerds. Just don't mention it. Smile, which is kind of Minnesotan anyway, isn't it?" said Reller.
In Soudan, Dave Anderson, KBJR 6 and Range 11.
Other attractions on Popular Science's 25 top nerd road trips include the McMath–Pierce Solar Telescope and Cinder Lake where astronauts practiced moon landings.
Both of those are in Arizona.