It looks like something out of the west…the wide open spaces, the eerie landscape. But it’s the world’s largest limestone quarry, located near the Tip of Michigan’s Mitt in Rogers City.
Limestone is a raw material formed when the area was covered with a shallow saltwater sea, and it’s used in a variety of chemicals, cement, and steel. In Michigan the limestone is used in refining sugar beets, a major agricultural product in the Thumb’s farmland.
Rogers City has an abundance of limestone and, located on Lake Huron, has the bonus of access to the Great Lakes and easy and cheap transportation by freighter.
In 1910 the Michigan Limestone and Chemical Company was founded in Rogers City, and limestone has been the lifeblood of the area since The Port of Calcite opened in 1912. It is now owned by Carmeuse Lime & Stone.
About 3,000 acres of the 7,000 acre site are actively mined, and predictions are that the yield will last up to another 100 years.
There are a couple of areas fenced off and marked by signs for viewing the mining and shipping operations. The photo above was taken at a site marked with a small “Quarry View” sign just south of Rogers City on US 23.
The second area is called “Harbor View.” Just follow Calcite Road from downtown Rogers City.
Bring your binoculars—the fenced in viewing area is a distance from the action at the plant and port. You may get lucky and see the loading operation; there were no freighters in port when I stopped by.
I did watch huge truck after huge truck—even from that distance it seemed they had tires the size of our minivan—as they hauled and dumped mountains of material in a matter of seconds.
I chatted with another spectator, a straw-hatted gent on a motorscooter who made regular visits to watch the action. He told me each truck carries 150 tons of limestone.
It’s a fascinating show, and it’s free.
Rogers City is located in Area B on the map
All stories and photos copyright Kath Usitalo unless otherwise noted