In 1885, The J. B. Speed Company opened the Milltown Quarry in the small town located on the Blue River in southern Indiana where they manufactured some of the best limestone found. Workers for this company were treated well, paid salaries larger than competing quarry companies and often rewarded their employees with large bonuses.
In 1901 the J. B. Speed Company purchased land along Speed Road in Milltown, built houses and rented them to their workers at reasonable rates and opened a company store. In 1924 the company donated land for the new school which many years later I graduated from.
I know by now you are wondering what kind of memories I have of a quarry that operated before and after the turn of the century, right? Maybe you're thinking I must be a lot older than I look; really preserved well? Not exactly. Let me get to the point.
First off, my Grandad Seacat was one of the workers at the quarry. He is in the above picture that was taken sometime early 1900s. My Grandad is the last one on the right in the first row. This was my mother's dad. Grandad Seacat is the only one of my grandparents that I got to know very well. The rest of my grandparents died at various times when I was younger. Grandad Seacat was quite a character whom I will tell you about sometime in another post. For now we are talking about the quarry.
In 1953 (the year I was born), the quarry closed leaving large open caverns abandoned in the hillside along the highway that by-passed Milltown.
This is what it looks like today, but not the way I remember it. Back in the day when I was a teenager the caves were still open with roads leading from the highway right into the caverns. Some of them you could drive quite a ways into. This was one of THE hotspots for
parking, I mean exploring! Very educational. Of course, I don't know from experience, just hearsay. Okay, maybe I saw the inside once. True story. I was on a double date, first time I'd been out with this guy. By the time we got to the quarry we had pretty much decided we were better friends than dates so while the other couple made out in the front seat we sat and talked. That was it. Actually, he later ended up setting me up with one of his friends.
Teenagers today don't have the chance to watch for bats in the caves, much to the relief of their parents, I'm sure. Another part of local Americana gone. And, as you can see, I really do have personal memories of the old limestone quarries that sit today as a reminder of days gone by.
Until next time...that's my view.