It ain't pretty being easy... (soopageek) wrote,
It ain't pretty being easy...

i've been good and i've been good for nothing

In the southern Chicagoland area, the Tri-State Tollway (I-80/I-294) crosses Thornton Quarry. You can see the highway in the upper quarter of the photo. It's the second largest quarry in the world at 1.5 miles long, a half mile wide and over 400 feet deep. The beginnings of the quarry date back as far as 1846, when several independent quarries began mining in the area. Over the years, the quarries were gobbled up and consolidated into the three massive quarries that exists today. The sections are connected by underground tunnels large enough to accomodate mining equipment and dump trucks and produces 7 million tons of mineral annually.

Since 2002, portions of the quarry have been used as a reservoir that's part of the Chicago Deep Tunnel, a public-works program commissioned in the 1970s and not scheduled to be completed until sometime later this decade. At its current depth, the quarry is revealing 450 million year old coral, yielding fossils of Silurian Age crustacean, squid, and octopus. In 1994, a 4.5 billion year old meteorite was uncovered that weighed nearly 1,000 lbs.

Truck drivers have a knack for giving clever names to the things they see on the road. These names are often colorful, and not always politically correct. For instance, a burning vehicle is a road-side barbecue. An ambulance is a meat wagon or a band-aid buggy. San Francisco is "Gay Bay" and some of the old timers still call Chicago "The Mistake on the Lake". That seems to be the protocol in trucker slang when it comes to naming geographical locations, usually it's something distinctive about the city. Chicago is famous for its Polish population, boasting the largest in the country.

Which is what lead to the Thornton Quarry receiving its trucker name, "The Polish Grand Canyon".
Tags: travel, trucking
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