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Indiana Limestone and the Temple of Books

A cache by Awesnap Send Message to Owner Message this owner
Hidden : 10/30/2019
2.5 out of 5
1 out of 5

Size: Size:   other (other)

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Geocache Description:

This is an Earthcache – as such, there is no physical cache. Instead after examining the building stone at the posted coordinates you will answer 5 questions and message me the answers. This earthache is located at the Handley Library and is availiable 24/7. For more information about hours of operation or to learn more about the history of this library please visit this LINK to go the Handley Regional Library System webpage.


In 1895 Judge John Handley left funds for the construction of a library "for the free use of the people of the city of Winchester forever." Indiana Limestone was chosen for the building and construction began in 1908. Work on the Handley Library was completed in 1913 and the result of the Judge’s gift is perhaps Virginia's purest expression of florid Beaux Arts classicism.


Indiana limestone is a sedimentary rock that formed in a coastal ecosystem under a shallow inland sea over 350 million years ago in an area of Indiana is known as the Salem Formation. The warm tropical water was shallow enough for waves to move coarse carbonate sand across the seafloor. Constant wave action washed away the smallest particles, whereas the larger fossils were battered and broken. Over time these accumulated debris under pressure solidified into limestone. The process of sediments such as this turning to stone is referred to as lithification.

Indiana limestone is 97% composed of the mineral calcite, which is a crystalline form of Calcium Carbonate (CaCO3). It also often contains variable amounts of silica in the form of Jasper or Flint, as well as amounts of clay, silt, and sand as disseminations, nodules, or layers within the rock. However, most of the calcium carbonate deposits that we find today were formed by sea creatures millions of years ago when oceans covered much of what is now land. From the calcium ions and carbon dioxide in the oceans, they manufactured shells and skeletons of calcium carbonate, just as clams, oysters, and corals still do today. When these animals die, their shells settle on the sea floor where, long after the seas have gone, we now find them compressed into thick deposits of limestone.

Indiana Limestone exhibits three colors: gray, buff, and variegated (includes patterns of both gray and buff). It is soft and easily worked when quarried, but once the quarried rock dries it becomes case-hardened, that is, its surface becomes harder and more resistant to weathering.


With its excellent physical properties, good workability, fire resistance, durability, and sustainability, Indiana Limestone is one of the most used and versatile building stones in the United States. At one time it was estimated that 60–80% of important US stone buildings were built with Indiana Limestone. The first government building to be faced with this stone was the old Department of the Interior building at 18th and F Streets NW (now the General Services Administration), which was completed in 1917. Other examples of its use in architecture are the Pentagon in Arlington, VA, the National Cathedral in Washington, DC, and the Empire State Building in New York, NY.


1. THE Bedford Oolitic Limestone OF INDIANA, 1896, T. C. HOPKINS & C. E. SIEBENTHAL,

2. INDIANA LIMESTONE, Wayne G. Powell,

3. Calcium Carbonate,

4. Images of America: Winchester, Kathryn Parker (2006),pg 48-54,Arcadia Publishing,

5. Building Construction and Superintendence, Part 1, Frank Eugene Kidder (1911), pg 227-228, The William C. Comstock Compan,

6. Indiana Limestone for Library, pg 14, Rock Products, Volumes 6-7

7. INTERESTING USES OF STONE IN VIRGINIA - PART II, Harry W. Webb and Palmer C. Sweet, Virginia Minerals, Vol 38, February/May 1992,


9. Indiana Limestone: America's building stone, Nelson R. Shaffer, Geological Society, London, Special Publications, 486, 14 March 201 Leyll Collection


To log this Earthcache: Read the geology lesson above. Answer all five questions posted below. Answers can be sent via e-mail or messenger contacts on my Geocaching profile. Do not post the answers to the questions in your logs.

QUESTION 1. Is limestone sedimentary or igneous?

QUESTION 2. Touch the limestone wall near the front door. Is it rough-grained or fine-grained? How about grains on the columns? Which is smoother?

QUESTION 3. What colors can you see in the limestone?

QUESTION 4. Look closely at the limestone walls. Describe the sediments that make up of the stone.

QUESTION 5. Find Winchester on the Shallow Inland Sea map above. Would this area be a good place for Salem Limestone to form?

POST PHOTO. Posting a photo that readily indicates that you (and anyone else logging the find) are at the location. You do not have to show your face, but the photo should be personalized by you or a personal item. Your background should include a view of the Handley Library. NOTE: Per newly published Earthcache guidelines, this requirement is REQUIRED to claim the find.

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