The Empire State Building, the Pentagon and the Lincoln Memorial are examples of famous buildings made in part from limestone. Limestone is considered prime building material and used extensively because of its high durability and carvability.
The limestone used in many state capitol buildings and local memorials is gathered from south central Indiana. The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Washington National Cathedral and the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina were also constructed using Indiana limestone.
Indiana limestone is evident on the interior walls and columns of the Lincoln Memorial, including in the eight 50-foot Ionic columns. The Empire State Building is constructed of 200,000 cubic feet of Indiana limestone and granite. The U.S. Pentagon, damaged in the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, used Indiana limestone during its reconstruction. In 1889, George Vanderbilt requested Indiana limestone be shipped to Asheville by train to build his four-story manor.
The Indiana limestone industry centers around the towns of Bedford and Bloomington in the so-called Stone Belt. The Stone Belt contains the Salem limestone formation, which is more than 90 feet thick in some places. Individual pieces of limestone mined from the Stone Belt can weigh more than 20 tons. The stone is taken to a mill where it is sawed, planed, turned by a lathe or cut into different shapes.