Saturday, June 21, 2014

Indiana Limestone Company

Awoke around five thirty am, park is quiet, two whitetail deer run off as I walk too the latrine. Back on our rigs we go looking for breakfast in Bedford, IN. At the iHop, we ask the waitress about the famous stone quarry that yielded the limestone blocks used to build the Empire State Building. Neither her or her co-worker knew anything about quarry's around Bedford. An elderly gentleman spoke up, and told us how to find the old quarry.

"Go a couple of miles north, turn right at the BP gas station, go to the end where the big stones block your way, turn left and ride into the old cemetary. Ride to the back side, park your bikes, jump the fence and the abandoned quarry is there. It's filled with water now."

He was spot on. Found it. Notice how smooth the walls of tthe quarry are? Look like the sides of a finished building. How do they do that? Not rough or any drill marks on the walls. Further away we could see an active quarry with workmen. No way to get over there, so we turned back.

Riding back to Bedford, we see the main office for Indiana Limestone Company. Rudy and I turn in as Dave rides ahead. Pulling into the parking area, thre are canopies and tables set up. Must be having some special event today. probably too busy to talk to us. I just want to know how they get smooth rocks out of the quarry.

After explaining to the hostess our ride and why we stopped in, she introduces us to the President / CEO of Indiana Limestone Company, Duffe Elkins. He explains that they are having a customer appreciation day today. When I asked if they do this every year, He answered this is the first time they have ever done it! Thinking we should leave, Duffe asks us if we would like to go on one of the VIP tours of their quarries and stone cutting operations. How could we say no?

He personally takes us to the registration area where we sign liability releases and watch a safety video. Supplied with a hard hat, safety googles and ear plugs, we leave the headquarters for a two hour tour of their operatiions.

Limestone quarrying first started around Bedford in the early 1800's. Indiana limestone is famous for its durability and color, making it ideal for monuments and buildings, such as the Empire State Building, Washington Monument, the Pentagon, etc, etc. Thirty-four different state capitals have used the Indiana limestone.
The quarry manager says they expect to get a 15% yield out of each quarry. That is a lot of lesser grade rock to sell or get rid of for every good stone they produce.
The white box on rails is the cutting machine with an 18 foot bar and diamond tipped blade. By rolling on rails, it keeps the cut straight. The black things are winter blankets used to keep freezing water out of the saw cuts that would crack the rock. After the long cuts and the cross cuts are done, air bags are inserted into the cut to break off each section for inspection and then transport to the cutting room. In the cutting shed, blocks are sliced according to customer's orders.

This machine cuts the huge rocks into slabs. Back at the headquarters, we inspect a hand carved limestone replica of A.J. Foyt's 1970 Indy 500 race car. Duffe introduces us to the Hedge Fund manager who has recently purchased the company. He says with the new influx of capital, they are launching new products for new markets. We are invited to mingle, eat, drink and listen to the live band. By now Rudy and I are feeling guilty that Dave has missed out on all of this red carpet attention.

A local newspaper photographer asked Rudy and I to pose out rigs by the Indy statue.

Not knowing what was taking so long, Dave finds a military museum in Vincennes, IN to explore. Dave is a retired Air Force officer, with a hobby of building authentic military models of planes, tanks, trains, etc. He can spend hours in a military museum studying the finer detals of the equipment.

Catching up with Dave, we all take some photos in the museum. Here Da'mit is with a half track.

We see one Amish buggy out and about today. Barely had time to grab the photo.

In Vincennes we also visit the Clark Memorial ( of Lewis and Clark fame).

After riding in three different rain storms today, Rudy discovers his rain gear leaks, his waterproof bag leaks and the "BEAST" doesn't like running in the rain. It starts coughing.

We end the day at Super 8 in Olney, Il. Learned a lot about how limestone goes from beimg in the ground to beautiful national mounuments, like what we saw in DC a few days earlier

Nite Da'mit.



  1. Really enjoyed the tour of the quarry, thank you!

  2. Barry and I really enjoyed getting to meet you while you were passing by at the small Farmer's Market gas station just south of Hwy 446. We hope the fire wood kept the wild animals away and the conversations memorable during your stay at the nearby Blackwell Camp. Best wishes to all of you as you continue your travels on the Hwy 50 adventure. ~Amber Crane - Mitchell, Indiana


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