“America’s Building Stone,” limestone, provides Lawrence County with community pride and national prestige. The thick, pure stone gives Lawrence County it’s hilly terrain and gorgeous buildings – It’s how this Southern Indiana community got the moniker Limestone Country.
Limestone from Southern Indiana, also known as Bedford Stone or Salem Limestone, began to form over 300 million years ago when tiny shell debris was cemented together. This limestone became some of the most desirable in the world for its uniform appearance, white color and structural stability.
Limestone from Lawrence County was used to build many notable American structures, such as The Empire State Building, The Pentagon and the new Yankee Stadium, as well as a lot of local buildings. Perhaps, the best way to discover Indiana Limestone is by exploring The Indiana Limestone Heritage Trail. The white stone tells a unique story at every stop.
America’s Building Stone
This small town packs a lot of Hoosier history. When it was founded in the late 1800s by the Bedford Quarries Company, it was fittingly named “Limestone.” Oolites, tiny egg-shaped fossils, are common in the town. The name eventually changed to Oolitic, but still nodded to the area’s carving history. See a machine that once cut stone blocks, the Joe Palooka statue, a small stone jail, 1920s limestone homes and many limestone businesses.
Land of Limestone Exhibit
The original home of the Indiana Limestone Company was built in 1926 in Bedford, Indiana. It’s now on the National Register of Historic Places and is the go-to place for all things limestone. There are over 200 photos, news stories and documents telling the tale of how Indiana limestone came to be the best in the country. Be sure to check out the ornate carved limestone fireplace to the right of the main entrance.
Spring Mill State Park
The true glory of Spring Mill State Park is seeing limestone both above and below ground, mined and untouched. To really understand how the building material formed the region and to get up close and personal in its most natural form, take an underground cave boat ride. Then, hike around the area to find numerous smaller limestone structures throughout the park, such as pioneer-era kilns and grave stones, to see how the use of limestone changed over the centuries. Finally, discover the best of limestone construction at the Grist Mill in the Pioneer Village and Spring Mill Inn.
Many businesses in Downtown Bedford and Mitchell are located in historic limestone buildings. While strolling down Main Street, stop and look at the buildings and architecture. Some businesses take the love of the local quarries to heart. Limestone Café is located just off the square in Bedford. After ordering home cooking, browse through the many photos that boast Lawrence County’s quarrying heritage. Taste local wines at Carousel Winery in Mitchell on top of an intricately carved limestone tasting bar.
There are so many more limestone stories to tell and much more to see on The Indiana Limestone Trail. Every June, Lawrence County lives and breathes limestone during Limestone Month. Check out our Limestone page for more details.