Property of the Bedford Stone Quarries Co., Inc.
Largest Producers of Oolitic Limestone in the World
(published circa late 1880s to early 1890s)
A stranger desiring to visit the quarries of the Bedford Stone Quarries Company, can reach Bedford, Indiana, via the Ohio and Mississippi Railway, from St. Louis, Indianapolis, Terre Haute, Chicago, Louisville, and points North and South; and the Louisville, New Albany and Chicago Railway, from Louisville or Chicago. Bedford is the capital of Lawrence County, Indiana, is beautifully situated in a rock region known as the Oolitic District of Indiana, has about 8,000 inhabitants, and is rapidly growing. It is well supplied with a complete system of Water works, Electric Lights, etc. By applying to the offices the Bedford Stone Quarries Company, situated on the Public Square, adjoining the offices of the Bedford Bank, the information necessary to reach the Quarries can be obtained.
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.
Buff ridge has been very truthfully described as "occupying the relation to the Oolitic Limestone deposit that a hub sustains to its wheel." At this point the deposit of Buff stone shows an unbroken depth of from 40 to 60 feet and a fineness and uniformity of that is abruptly lost in following the strata east and west and gradually lost in a northerly and southerly direction, the stone changing both in color and density from Buff to a hard Bluish and often variegated variety, with here and there a thin upper strata of Buff, but always much harder to manipulate than the strata at Buff Ridge.
Some of these deposits have proven of more and less value, however, producing a fair quality of bridge stone, curbing, flagging stone for street use, and stone for lime and fluxing purposes. But as the product at Buff Ridge is universally recommended for all general purposes, and as the supply is inexhaustible, it must always continue a favorite with architects and builders.
The property of the Bedford Stone Quarries Company embraces in the neighborhood of 1,000 acres of the choicest of this deposit, and their quarries are fully equipped with the most improved machinery, their business requiring the use of twenty channellers, ten steam derricks, nine gangs of saws, headers, planers, etc., etc. Large additions are now being made to the machinery, and it is contemplated in the near future to double the present capacity.
The entire Plant is lighted with electricity, and, in the summer season, is operated both day and night.
Access to the Quarries is had through the Bedford Belt Railway, a line of railroad twelve miles in length, which connects with all railroads entering Bedford. The Bedford Belt Railway has 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 business 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, enables the Bedford Stone Quarries Company to take contracts of any magnitude and to insure prompt delivery.
Some idea of the extensive preparations for shipment of this stone will be gathered from the views presented herewith; nor will the importance of this industry be underestimated when it is known that the cost of the Bedford Belt Railway was something over $25,000 per mile, the topography of the country rendering it a very expensive and difficult piece of engineering.
Bedford Stone has become so popular and is in such demand that an extended description hardly seems necessary, but a few items of interest are here presented:
For over forty years this stone has been known locally. In 1851 it entered into the construction of the white River Railroad bridge, near Bedford, with the evidence to show that, during the past forty-two years of high and low water and exposure, the stone abutments are as perfect as when built, not a flaw, nor crack in the stone, nor the slightest appearance of crumbling. It bears an enormous pressure, and has been pronounced fit material to enter into the construction of our most substantial public and Government buildings. Its color is light buff, but when deep quarried it is blue. The grain is fine and it receives a good polish. It weighs about 170 lbs. to the cubic foot, and looks admirably in modern styles of architecture. It can be quarried in larger dimensions than any other stone; this is exemplified in the large flat stone required for the Vanderbilt mansion in New York, to transport which a car had to be specially constructed, and in the accompanying cut.
The Bedford building stone speaks for itself to any practical builder, geologist or architect. Considering that within the last decade alone has any considerable effort been made to attract public attention to the Bedford Quarries, the results in an acquaintance with the stone and the extent of its use are matters most gratifying to those specifically interested as well as to the public.
The history of stone quarrying at Bedford, Ind., dates back to 1855, when the first Quarry was opened. The second was opened in 1857, the third in 1867, and fourth in 1877.
This stone is of the same Geological Age, and is equal if not superior to the celebrated Portland stone quarried in the South of England. The most substantial buildings in England to-day those which have best resisted the eroding tooth of time, such as St. Paul's Cathedral, Goldsmith's Hall, various public buildings in London, and many other buildings of Queen Anne's time are built of the well known Portland limestone. St. Paul's Cathedral was finished in 1700. The building generally is in good condition, and the carvings of fruits and flowers are nearly as perfect as when first executed. Wells' Cathedral and Chapter House (thirteenth century) are in excellent condition. Wendoush Church (fifteenth century) is splendidly preserved, exhibiting its original tool marks as perfect as when it left the hands of the workmen over 300 years ago.
An Extract from the Report of the State Geologist of Indiana
"By far the most beautiful and valuable stone for architectural purposes is the Oolitic Limestone. The supply is simply inexhaustible, as it lies in massive strata of from twenty to seventy feet thick, over a large area.
These strata are homogeneous, equally strong in vertical, diagonal or horizontal sections. The stone comes from the quarry so soft as to be readily worked by saw, chisel or planing machine, while on exposure it hardens to a strength of from 10,000 to 12,000 pounds to the square inch-a strength amply sufficient to sustain the weight of the largest structure in the world. In use it presents a handsome, creamy brown appearance, gradually whitening with age. It is of almost unprecedented purity, containing an average of 96.8 per cent of carbonate of lime, a purity rarely, if ever, surpassed, and scarcely equalled, in the world. Hence its advantage over the magnesian limestones, as it is not affected by decay in an atmosphere charged with the gases of burning stone coal. In natural outcrop it presents bold perpendicular faces to the elements, showing every scratch and mark, unaffected after the exposure of thousands of years, as no other stone or rock does.
"It is quarried by steam channelers, which carve it out in prisms six by ten, fifty or one hundred feet long, putting to shame the boasted prodigies of Egyptian story and effort. It is then rapidly sawed into blocks and dimension forms, and steam planers carve, mold and smooth it like clay or wood, and more accurately than mallet and chisel. It is now fit to be carved and polished into the freest kind of sculptured and ornamental work.
"Ready for the mason or sculptor, it is alive and resonant, answering with a clear metallic ring each touch or blow. This resonance is an excellent test of the perfect unity of its particles, and as a result it is highly elastic, bending under pressure and rebounding to place when relieved from it. This elasticity enables Indiana Oolitic Limestone to adapt itself without cleavage or disintegration to our changeable climate, where material will be frequently subject to a change of from 20 degrees to 60 degrees of temperature in a few hours; as in large buildings the outside will be subject to a temperature of 25 degrees below zero in winter, or 120 degrees above in the summer, while the inside will remain at 60 degrees or 70 degrees-difference of 50 to 80 degrees in the extremities of the same stone-with their accompanying effects in expansion or contraction. The strains of heat and frost will tear down buildings and sides of mountains with their great expansive forces, and even steel and iron will give way before them. Here, then, is represented to the builder and architect a new and wondrous element in an 'elastic stone,' a potent quality which, united with its other sterling excellencies of strength and beauty, makes Indiana Oolitic limestone the best in the world for exposed work in buildings in localities subject to great climatic changes. It has been, and is now being, used in many of the finest public structures in the country-the new $2,000,000 Court house in Indianapolis, the new Indiana State house, the post office, and many churches in that city, the Custom house at Louisville; the City hall and the water tables of Lincoln Park in Chicago, many fine structures in St. Louis, the Cotton Exchange in New Orleans, and many public and private buildings in New York and Philadelphia, and the exposed parts of the new State house of Illinois." -from the 13th report of the State Geologist of Indiana, 1883..
In addition to operating their own extensive quarries, the Bedford Stone Quarries Company, owning nearly one thousand acres of Quarry land situated at the very heart of Buff Ridge, is prepared to offer extra inducements to Quarrymen to open new Quarries to be operated either at a fixed rental or on royalty. The Quarry sites offered have a uniform strata from 40 to 60 feet of the finest Buff Oolitic Limestone. The stripping is very light, and the output will run not less than 1,750,000 cubic feet to the acre, quarried 40 feet deep. There is an unlimited water supply for milling purposes, together with superior railroad facilities.
PARTIAL LIST OF BUILDINGS CONSTRUCTED OF
Public Buildings and Improvements.
In addition to the above there were over 200 private dwellings in New York, 50 in Boston, and a number of Churches in Philadelphia built out of stone from these Quarries.
NOTE: The section on the analysis of Bedford stone is not included in this extract.