Petoskey Stones

remember tube socks? yeeeeeeeeeah, you do.

when we were little, our family used to travel downstate to visit our grandparents every summer or so. we used to love stopping in petoskey to collect Petoskey Stones. our favorite hunting ground was the shore right behind Glen’s (a grocery store, if my memory serves me correctly). we would all take off our tube socks, run barefoot in the water looking for stones, and fill our socks with them. what a sight we must have been! i don’t know what we did with all of them. it seems like very few of the stones survived our childhood. what a curious thing, since we had so many! i will say, kristin’s stones survived for quite some time–but that is a story for her to tell.

when we were little, the beaches used to have so many Petoskey Stones. of course, with the draw of travelers to find Petoskey Stones, the locals picked up on a great market. they began hunting for the stones themselves, polishing them, and selling them in town. some even make jewelry or nick-nacks with them. i’m not saying this is a bad thing, or that i disapprove of it. i always thought it disappointing, though. half the fun of having acquired a Petoskey Stone is the fact that you were knee-deep in Lake Michigan, hunting for your own stones, and saving them in your own tube socks. i do like the polished look, but i’ll tell you something else–many of the stones we picked up as kids were very smooth from the sand and lake. we didn’t need anyone to polish our stones–Lake Michigan already had!

we had stopped several years ago to look for stones, and were completely unsuccessful. we had heard that the local businesses had scoured the beachfronts, and you just couldn’t find them anymore. it was really sad. it made me long for my childhood again, you know? but we were wrong. thank goodness!

yesterday, mom and i drove down to petoskey to have lunch with my brother, jer; and while we were there, we went looking for Petoskey Stones again. jer had asked a co-worker of his if there were any good places to hunt, and she told him to stop anywhere–we’d find them. but she also showed him a big piece of rocky hill out behind their restaurant. it is basically one big Petoskey Stone. so we went there first. jer showed us around the little community where he works, and we saw a similar hill–only much bigger–where people were actually breaking pieces of Petoskey Stone off of the cliff and throwing it into their buckets to save. it was incredibly cool! i should have stopped to take a picture so you could see how big this piece of rock was. and then we went behind his restaurant, and marveled up close at the Petoskey Hill. i did try to take a picture of that, and if it turned out, i will add it to this blog so you can see. it was REALLY cool to see, i have to tell you.

i guess i should have started this blog by telling you what Petoskey Stones are. that would help make the blog more understandable, i suppose. well, in simple terms–because i understand simple–Petoskey Stones are fossilized coral. you can read more here:

so they are really incredible to look at. when they are wet, you can clearly see the hexagonal shape of the coral, with the dark center (like a pupil) of each. when they’re neither wet nor polished, it is more difficult to see the design.

anyway, we were behind jer’s restaurant, and this big cliffy rock was made up of Petoskey Stone. it was incredible. we were breaking pieces off, and taking pictures up close. it was just so incredible to see large pieces of the fossilized coral! you can’t even imagine how cool it was.

after that, we drove down to one of the roadside parks and hunted along the shore for a bit. we let sanka play in the water, even though the water at the shore was disgusting. bleh. he didn’t mind. 🙂 but…he does get a bath today! so, we weren’t as good at the hunting as we were twenty years ago, but we had an alright turnout. we didn’t have any tube socks, but we did fill our socks with the stones!

the moral of the story: if you’re ever in Petoskey, take your socks off and look.

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2 Responses to Petoskey Stones

  1. Dave Wade says:

    Hey, semmie,

    Here in NYS we find Devonian fossils too. One of my favorites is called “favocites” – a colonial coral which has been agatized resulting in a gem quality material with different colored chambers. Rt. 20 in Cherry Valley, NY is a good site to find them. Stop by if you’re in the neighborhood.


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