Indiana Stone Belt
Limestone from Indiana’s stone belt, a narrow band about 10 miles wide and 30 miles long that runs through Owen, Monroe, and Lawrence Counties, is ideal for carving and architecture. The stone is homogenous, making it easily cut and carved in any direction. It is soft and can be worked with minimal tools. Geologists have named it Salem Limestone; in the stone industry it is called Indiana Limestone.
In the mid-19th century, the discovery of this belt of stone coupled with increasing demand for sustainable building materials gave rise to a major industry that has supplied limestone for buildings across the country including the Monroe County Courthouse, the Indiana State House, the Empire State Building, the National Cathedral, Grand Central Station, the National Archives, the Biltmore Mansion, and the Pentagon.
Throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries stone artisans and master carvers emigrated to southern Indiana from Great Britain and Europe to work in the quarries and mills. Their work can be seen on the ornate buildings on the campus of Indiana University, on private homes along area streets and roads, and in local cemeteries, both large and small. Their legacy is perpetuated by the programs of the Indiana Limestone Symposium.