Quarry Districts Along The Monon
Indiana has out-produced all of the other states in limestone production. The major areas are in south-central part of the state. The Indiana limestone belt encompasses a large part of Monroe and Lawrence counties, and the limestone belt extends 23 miles from Bloomington to Bedford in central Indiana. Indiana limestone has been quarried since 1880 and "has probably been used more widely than any stone in the world." Indiana limestone is know by several names: Indiana Limestone, Indiana Oolitic Limestone, Bedford Oolitic Limestone, and Bedford Rock. The stone is a buff, gray, and variegated colors.
History of Limestone
Over 300 million years ago, an inland sea covered most of the Midwest. This sea teemed with billions of microscopic creatures, shell fish, and other denizens of the deep. When they died their calcium-rich carcasses settled into the mud at the bottom.
After a while, (say 40-60 million years or so later) the sea dried up, the mud and sea creatures fossilized. Eventually (that would be another 40-50 million years) the mud and sea creatures were covered over by the earth. During the recent ice age (in geological terms the last ice age is recent) huge glaciers slid south over Southwestern Indiana exposing a small area of ancient bedrock between Bloomington and Bedford, Indiana.
For more information on the Indiana Limestone and Quarry Districts, visit, Stone Quarries And Beyond . This web site has great information on many of the operations in the State Of Indiana. Peggy and George Perrazzo have put together a nice reference point. They have graciously allowed me to use much of the personal collection on this page, to which I say, "Thank You."
Disclaimer, Please Take Note:
Richard Gilbert opened the first limestone quarry of Indiana in 1827. The quarry was located three quarters of a mile south of Stinesville on the banks of Jack’s Defeat Creek. Limestone from the quarry was used to construct the court houses in Lafayette, Lebanon, and Terre Haute. It was also used to create the Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Indianapolis.
Left and Right: The original Matthews Brothers Mill. This Mill was built before 1874. There is a building that was the Matthews Brothers Store that was built in 1974 and is visible in both images. -Monroe County Library Collection-
Left: Matthews Brothers Stone Company. Note Monon tracks on the right side of the photo. Left: Another look at the main building. This company is now ByBee Stone Company. -Monroe County Library Collection -
Matthews Brother employee parking, 1920's. -Monroe County Library Collection-
Left: Another building at Matthews Brothers. Right: Inside the mill building. -Monroe County Libray Collection-
Left and Right: Indside the main mill at Matthews Brothers.
Left: Carvers work at Matthews Brothers, unknown date. Right: Packing stone with excelsior for shipment. -Monroe County Library Collection-
Mathews Brothers Stone Company Employee Photo. -Monroe County Library Collection-
Left and Right: The Matthews Mansion. Home of John Matthews 1806-1883. Founder Matthews Stone Company. Picture on the left is from the early 1900's. No date on the picture to the right. -Monroe County Library Collection-
McNeely Stone Company, Inc, Circa 1979. Left: Looking at what remains of the McNeely Quarry. Right: McNeely Stone Company, Inc. Cutters
Left: November 1979. The Matthews Mansion. Built by John Matthews. This house also was the home of the President of the McNeely Stone Company, Inc. What are the odds he was named McNeely. It was build by John Matthews of the Matthews Brothers Stone Company. Right: Backside of the Matthews Mansion. It is said to be haunted, with people reporting hearing voices and strange sightings.
The ByBee Stone Company, 1979. Left: ByBee Stone Company buildings. The main office was the building to the left side of the picture. Right: Detail of a limestone urn with the company name carved into it. ByBee Stone Company is still in business and provided much of the stone used to rebuild the Pentagon after the 9-11 attacks. Visit their official web site: By Bee Stone Company, Inc.
The shots below are at Reed Quarries, taken by Lance Mindheim. This quarry was served by the branch splitting off the mainline at Hunters. These pictures were all taken July of 1976 after the L&N/SCL/Family Lines takeover.
Maple Hill Quarry
Maple Hill Quarry, 1920's. This quarry is now under the name of C&H Stone, located southwest of Bloomington on Rockport Road. The quarry was at the end of a railroad spur that started in the Clear Creek depot area.
Independent Stone Company & Railroad
Independent Limestone Quarry, Bloomington, Indiana. Circa 1984. Left: Looking into the quarry. Right: Looking at one of the quarry walls and building on the rim.
Left: Another Independent Stone Company quarry, circa 1977. Looks as if this one has been played out. Right: Part of the Independent Stone branch railroad line that served some of the independent quarries.
Left: Ex-Monon wood caboose that once served as the yard office at the Independent Stone Quarry. Right: Monon and Illnois Central Gulf Railroad crossing along the independent branch.
Indian Hill Stone Company
The Indian Hill Stone Company. Left and Right: To looks at the old Indian Hill Company, circa 1977.
Rooftop Quarry is one of the water-filled quarries around Bloomington made famous in the 1979 movie Breaking Away. The quarries enjoy a unique history in the surrounding area. Each one has a story to tell, and "Rooftop" Quarry is one of the most popular. Rooftop Quarry was originally named “Sanders Quarry”. It was also known as "Longhole" and is now owned by Indiana Limestone Company, but there is no active quarry activity presently.
Left: Rooftop, formerly Sanders Quarry. Right: Movie still from Breaking Away at Rooftop.
Above and Below: The Rooftop Quarry, also known to people as "Longhole" is a popular site for cliff diving. This is a highly dangerous sport and the old quarry is on private property. As late as 2008 a person lost his life jumping. Below Right: Rooftop Quarry as seen from space -Google Earth Image-
Aerial photograph of the Oolitic Quarry. A view of
one of the older Limestone Quarries near Oolitic, Indiana. These quarries
provided the building limestone used in such buildings as The Washington
British Embassy, The Mayo Clinic, Chase Manhattan Bank, and Rockefeller
Oolitic Quarries. Part of the Bedford Stone Quarries Company, Inc. Left: Oolitic Quarry #1. Right: Oolitic Quarry #2.
Left and Right: Old quarries on the former Murdock Branch line. Long since shut down and silent, circa 1984.
1923 aerial view of the PM&B Quarry showing the multi-Kiln Lime plant. It is located in the center of the picture on the right. The plant was built on the hillside. It appears to have 7 kilns, but only one is stone. The stone Kiln is still standing in 2008 and is pictured below, circa 1984. The stone kiln is the one on the left sticking out of the roof. Coal and solid limestone were delivered to the plant on the higher tracks on the north side of the plant. The finished powder was bagged and loaded into Monon box cars on the lower, or south side. -Courtesy Pete Pedigo and Clay Stuckey-
The south side of the PM&B kilns with the camera facing North West towards the Empire Quarry hole. This must have been on a day when the kilns were not in operation as there is no smoke to obscure the area. The track in the bottom left is the main track into the PM&B quarry. Right: PMB Lime Lilns upper level showing coal dump and raw material processing area. Photo taken facing west. The upper level is where breaking rocks (like prisoners) to make them small enough to dump into the kiln was done. The smaller the rock the quicker it burned into powder lime. Notice the stone kiln on the far end. That is all that is left to mark this location in 2008. -Courtesy Pete Pedigo and Clay Stuckey-
Left: Lime Kiln at Oolitic/Murdock in the PM&B Quarry. This is all that is left of the Lime operation there. Right: Furst-Kerber Mill #2. Old stone pile. Both pictures circa 1984.
Left, Middle and Right: Limestone columns loaded on flatcars at Dark Hollow, May of 1922. The columns were made in 1921 and 1922 by the Doyle Stone Company and the Indiana Cut Stone Company Mill. Doyle owned both companies. By the time the building was finished in 1928, Indiana Limestone owned Doyle Stone and Indiana Cut Stone. Indiana Limestone took credit for this work in their advertising. The columns are heading to Pennsylvania for the North Office Building, Pennsylvania State Capital Group. There were 36 columns in total. There are 15 buildings in the Capitol Group. -Pete Pedigo Collection-
Bedford Area. Left: Indiana Limestone Company. This pictures shows the quarry where The Empire State Building once lay. In prehistoric majesty before its 207,000 cubic feet of limestone (18,630 tons) were quarried and shipped to Manhattan. The great hole is now abandoned. Rain water collects in it; moisture seeps in through its ledges and it is forgotten.
Left And Right: Empire Quarry, Indiana Limestone Company Inc. These pictures are from 2001, from which the stone was taken for the Empire State Building in New York City.
Hoosier Quarry 1 & 2
Owned by the Bedford Stone Quarries Company, Inc. The quarries of the Company, consisting of "Hoosier 1 and 2," "Oolitic 1 and 2," "Louisville and Bedford," and "Buff Ridge," are situated about five miles northwest of Bedford, in what is geographically known as "Buff Ridge," a district about one mile wide and about three miles long.
Above: D Quarry picture Hoosier Cut Stone Company, Bedord, Indiana. Left Below: Hoosier Quarry Number 1, Bedford, Indiana. Date Unknown. Right Below: Hoosier Quarry Number 2 photo, date unknown.
Bedford Belt Railroad
Access to the Bedford Stone Quarries was handled through the Bedford Belt Railway, a line owned by the Bedford Stone Quarries Company, Inc. It was about twelve miles in length, and connected with all railroads entering Bedford. The Bedford Belt Railway at one time had three large "Mogul" engines for hauling freight to Bedford from the Quarries, and two smaller engines to do the necessary switching and operate a passenger line between Bedford, Limestone and the Quarries.
The completion of the Bedford Belt Railway, connecting all of the Quarries at Bedford with all of the railroads entering there, together with present facilities for obtaining a sufficient number of cars at all times to transport the output, enabled the Bedford Stone Quarries Company to take contracts of any magnitude and to insure prompt delivery.
Here is some additional information, courtesy of Tim
Swan, Monon Railroad Historical-Technical Society Members, who has done
research into this region. "About the Bedford Belt Railroad,
according to The Milwaukee Railroader, the Milwaukee Road Historical Society's
the Bedford Belt was taken over by the South Indiana Railway (SIRy)
as the Chicago, Terre Haute, and Southeastern (CTSE) in 1910 and was in turn
absorbed by the MILW in 1921. Everybody in this area continued calling
the Oolitic line the Bedford Belt. To access Oolitic, the Belt crossed over
the Monon mainline on a small wood trestle between mileposts 244 and 245.
The Monon spur from the Murdock wye accessed essentially the same area but
east instead of the southeast. I've never seen any evidence that the Belt
connected with the Monon at Oolitic. Since both line's had a myriad
of quarry spurs they must have been very close together in many places. In
the 1890-1920 period, SIRy and the Monon were bitter rivals, each allied
Bedford Belt Railroad. The railroad that moved countless
tons of stone in, around and out of the quarries around Bedford, Indiana.
Left: Pictured is a Belt Railroad train crossing a trestle on the Belt Line.
Right: Locomotive negotiating its way through a steep rock cut. Below Left:
Columns loaded on flat cars wait to be shipped. Below Right: Limestone
train making its way through the streets of Bedford, Indiana. Date unknown.
Monon Quarry Pictures
J. F. Bennett photographed the Monon extensively. Left: Monon locomotive moving cars loaded with cut stone. Date not listed. Right: Another view of a Monon steam locomotive working in the limestone district of Southern Indiana. Date also not listed.