This area is named after a variety of gypsum, discovered offshore by Douglass Houghton in 1837. Prospectors soon began searching for other gypsum deposits, and this quarry was opened in 1862 by B. F. Smith. Used at first as fertilizer and as an ingredient in plaster, gypsum is now used principally in the manufacture of wallboard. A fire in 1891 destroyed the operation but it was rebuilt in time to supply material for the main buildings at the Chicago Columbian Exposition of 1893. These buildings, with marble-like walls, earned the exposition the title, "White City," and greatly expanded gypsum sales. Incorporated into the U.S. Gypsum Company in 1902, this quarry has helped to make Michigan a leading producer of gypsum for over a century.