PETOSKEY STONES - A Moment Frozen In Time
Each year thousands of people flock to the shores of Western Michigan's beaches in search of sun, sand and the elusive Petoskey stones.
This dull grayish stone is really nothing to look at blending in with the many other stones and rocks on Lake Michigan beaches. But when wet or polished, these stones become beautiful to look at and tell a history that's 350 million years old.
And, finding Petoskey stones is yet another great Michigan family vacation activity. As they say, it's all in the hunt. All ages love searching for a hidden item of beauty and a piece of history as well!
What Is A Petoskey Stone?
The Petoskey stone is a rock form of fossilized coral that was deposited in the Northwestern corner of Michigan 350 million years ago by glaciers during the Devonian period leaving these coral high and dry.
Without the sea to keep them alive, these coral dried out mixing with limestone. Then in 1965, the Petoskey stone became Michigan's state stone due to their intriguing and interesting look when polished.
How Did The Petoskey Stone Get It's Name?
The Petoskey stone got its' name from the small town of Petoskey which was one of the first places the stone was found. It's also because Petoskey is the center of where the majority of these stones can be found.
They are primarily found around two of the Great Lakes; Lake Huron and Lake Michigan. Petoskey is also a befitting name for this stone as the city of Petoskey and then the stone are named for an Ottowa chief Pet-O- Sega that once ruled the area.
While not as abundant as they once were, these stones can still be found on the beaches from South Haven to Saugatuck, as well as beaches in Petoskey, Charlevoix, Traverse City and many other small towns that dot the Western shores of Lake Michigan.
Becoming a treasure hunter and searching for these stones is a fun activity for visitors to this area and it is indeed a find of a rare old treasure when the hunt is successful.
Hunting Petoskey Stones
One of the things that makes finding the Petoskey stone so difficult is that when the stone is dry, it often disguises it's interesting design. That leaves it just looking like a very plain rock. The six-sided pattern formed like a honeycomb often only appears when the stone is wet or polished.
So, we've learned to scan the beach for the most common shape of a Petoskey stone which is oval or egg shape. More often than not, thet're smooth and pale gray. If they're at the edge of the water or near any dampness, the beautiful fossilized patterns will often jump right out at you.
But if you're looking in a high and dry spot, you'll have to depend on shape, color, and the subtle hint of pattern.
We've been known to pick up a promising stone and touch it to our tongue giving it the Petoskey tongue test. If it's real, the moisture will make that pattern pop out!
Finding this stone also depends a good deal on luck and when and where you look for the stone. The best times to look for this elusive stone is either early spring or following a storm as the winds over the great lakes push more of this fossilized coral ashore.
The shallow water at the edge of the shore is the best place to look, particularly for "beginner Petoskey stone hunters." This is of course because the water washing over the stones will show off their design.
While these stones can be found further in and away from the water's edge, once they dry they are more difficult to spot and recognize.
For those who truly don't want to go home without one of these stones and whose stone hunting has proved unsuccessful there are many shops that carry polished Petoskey stones. Sometimes the small stones are just polished and left as a decorative item alone and some have been made into jewelry and other objects. There are tales of Petoskey stones bringing good luck to the finder, holder, or wearer of the stone.
Petoskey stones have been used to make bracelets, pendants, earrings, pins, belt buckles and keychains as well as many other decorative items. Though these stones are usually small pebbles, some larger stones have been made into clocks, bookends, paper weights, and so on. These stones are prized and well they should be! They are so much a part of Michigan's past, present and future.
So when you walk along Michigan beaches, keep your eyes peeled for these beautiful stones. I know I keep a "lucky Petoskey" in my pocket. And
We'll see you around _South Haven To Saugatuck and Beyond
Petoskey Stories From Readers
My Petoskey Stone Experience
Have you had some Petoskey luck? And a picture would be really swell!
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