handbook

Sunday, July 29, 2007

 

5 of the largest, oddest and most useless state projects

‘1. Dumb as a limestone brick: Indiana’s misguided bid for tourists

The great idea: Turn a small Midwestern town into a tourist mecca for lovers of limestone block.

The great big problem: Limestone block is not as big a draw as you might think.

Cost to taxpayers: $700,000

Despite being the undisputed “Limestone Capital of the World,” Bedford, Indiana, always had a hard time figuring out how to parlay its claim to fame into a thriving tourism industry. That is, until Bedford Chamber of Commerce member Merle Edington came up with a brilliant plan.

In the late 1970s, Edington proposed that Bedford build a Disney-style theme park. But, instead of cartoon characters, the park’s main attraction would be limestone, featuring a 95-foot-high replica of the Great Pyramid of Cheops built out of (you guessed it) local limestone blocks.

And, on the off chance that a scale model of one world wonder wouldn’t be exciting enough, Edington added plans for an 800-foot-long replica of the Great Wall of China.

While the power of limestone over the vacationing public is debatable, Edington convinced the Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration to believe in his dream — to the tune of $700,000.

Unfortunately, those funds dried up quickly, thanks to Wisconsin senator William Proxmire (famous for his “Golden Fleece Awards” ridiculing government waste), who called attention to the project. The town was left deep in debt, unable to even pay Edington’s salary. Today, the abandoned project is little more than a giant rock pile.’




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