Thornton Quarry, located in Thornton, Illinois, just south of Chicago, is one of the world’s largest aggregate quarries. The quarry spans 1.5 miles, is 0.5 miles broad, and is 450 feet deep at its deepest point. Gallagher Asphalt Corporation has been working on the quarry sites since 1928. A dryland dike spans the quarry to carry Interstate 80/Interstate 294/Tri-State Tollway. Thornton, Illinois, had its first residents in 1834. Shabonna, Gurdon Saltonstall Hubbard’s Indian wife, gave him 160 acres of property. Hubbard established the first quarry on Kinzie Street in 1836. The location was abandoned due to the fact that the stone was too deep and of low quality. Fred Gardner established a quarry in 1846, while Stephen Crary established one in 1850. Brownell Improvement Company bought the entire region in the early 1900s. Colonel Hodgkins purchased the land in 1920. The quarry to the north of Ridge Road opened in 1924, and a tunnel linking the north and south quarries was built in 1926. Colonel Hodgkins died in 1929, and Brownell bought it back in 1933. The property was then bought by Material Service Corporation in 1938, and it has been in their possession ever since. Thornton Quarry and McCook Quarry will function as reservoirs as part of the Chicago Deep Tunnel project, reducing the overflow of rainfall and sewage from Chicago region rivers into Lake Michigan. Thornton Transitional Reservoir has a capacity of 3.1 billion US gallons and is projected to contribute 7.9 billion US gallons when the system is finished in 2014. It is predicted that the reservoir will safeguard 500,000 people living in the 14 areas it covers and will save the city $40 million in damages each year. The quarry contains Silurian reefs that developed more than 400 million years ago when the Michigan Basin was inundated in sea water.
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