Trip Idea: Limestone Heritage
Monroe County and Bloomington sit atop the Salem Limestone Belt, one of the largest limestone deposits in the world. Limestone has been a major part of the local economy for the last 150 years and its relatively easy access has made it a predominant building material in the area. It's also a popular artistic medium, with sculptures on display around town. You can learn more about Indiana Limestone here.
IU Campus Tour
Nearly every building on the IU campus incorporates limestone, so walking through campus is great way to see the various uses of the stone as a building tool. The architecture and design of the old and new buildings are impressive. One such building is the Indiana Geological Survey, which also has information and exhibits on the area limestone.
June has been designated as Limestone Month with special activities all month. One of the premier events of June is the Indiana Limestone Symposium, which draws carvers from around the country who hone their skills over three weeks. The Symposium takes places next to Bybee Stone, an active quarrying and milling company.
There are several active quarries in Monroe County, but most are not open to the public for tours. You can see many former quarry sites throughout the county from the road. It's worth pulling over to take a look - even through a fence they're pretty fascinating.
Monroe County History Center
The local history center has a permanent display on the history and heritage of the local limestone industry, including tools, photos, videos and a diorama of a quarry. Of course, the historic building is made of limestone too.
If you want to sleep in a limestone building, it might as well be the beautiful and massive Indiana Memorial Union. This campus hotel and student union is a perfect example of the unique architectural qualities that limestone possesses.