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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".

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Oooooh...so many Polish jokes for Chicago. If I were actually Polish, I'd be mildly entertained. Since I'm Russian, I use them at every opportunity.

You know some good ones? I always love a good joke.

The first Polish joke I learned (after the light bulb joke) was about a Polish man sitting on a hillside watching his house burn to the ground, just laughing his head off. A neighbor came up and asked, "Why are you laughing? Your house has been completely destroyed!" After catching his breath, the Pole responded, "I've got enough lumber in the attic to build another."

*snortlaughs* My cousin (also a truck driver) told me this one a while ago:

Two Polish truck drivers are barreling along when they come up to an overpass. A sign says, "Clearance: 11"2'." So they get out, measure their truck, and realize that it's 11"6'. So the first man looks at his friend and says, "I don't see any police around... let's go for it!"

A girl I went to uni with is Polish and from Chicago.. Her mother doesn't even speak English! I find that crazy.

Yeah, when reading various things about Thornton Quarry last night, I ran across some tidbits about the Poles in Chicago. There are apparently a few neighborhoods that still exist where you hear Polish spoken almost exclusively.

I've just always like the Polish Grand Canyon thing, 'cause it's kinda like the punchline to a Polish joke with a setup that needs to be seen and not heard.

i thought cleveland was the mistake on the lake?

Actually all three of the I-80 cities on the Great Lakes get referred to as the Mistake on The Lake, but it is more commonly used with Cleveland and Chicago and not so much Toledo.

How about Gary? That place is a mistake.

Well Gary is basically part of Chicagoland, so there ya go. I don't usually consider myself one who is easily bothered by being in certain areas of a city, but Gary is one of those places that makes me very uneasy to be in. Man, that place is a shit hole.

East L.A. is the worst for me. I lived in long gone Atlanta neighborhoods before the 96 olympics where you heard weapon fire--even automatic weapons-- all the time. There isn't much to make me nervous--certainly not the Spanish or Asian ghettos here. But east Los Angeles outside of downtown--If someone walks near the car at a red-light there, I just run it.

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