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Beachcombing for Petoskey Stones! (Michigan)

Posted by Jody on October 6, 2011

Michigan has an Official State Stone. The Petoskey Stone! Who knew?  The name of the stone comes from an Ottawa Indian Chief, Chief Petosegay (or perhaps: Bedosegay). “The translation of the name is “rising sun,” “rays of dawn,” or “sunbeams of promise”.

Petoskey Stones can be found while beachcombing in the far northern area of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan (Think tippy-top of the mitten)!  The Petoskey Stone is found lining the beaches and amongst the sand dunes in the area around the city of Petoskey, Michigan.  The Michigan State Stone is plentiful on the beautiful, sandy shores of Petoskey State Park. The park’s mile-long sandy beach on Little Traverse Bay is also famous for it’s gorgeous sunsets!

Little Traverse Bay, Petoskey, Michigan (Photo by Bkonrad/Wikimedia Commons)

The Petoskey Stone is both a rock and a fossil. According to the MI DEQ GSD*: “The most often asked question is, “What is a Petoskey Stone?” A Petoskey is a fossil colonial coral. These corals lived in warm shallow seas that covered Michigan during Devonian time, some 350 million years ago.”

Polished Petoskey Stone (Photo credit: Jtmichcock/Wikimedia Commons)

For the science-minded among us: “This specific fossil coral is found only in the rock strata known as the Alpena Limestone. The Alpena Limestone is part of the Traverse Group of Devonian age. The Alpena Limestone is a mixture of limestones and shales. The outcrops of these rocks are restricted to the Little Traverse Bay area near Petoskey.”

The MI DEQ GSD has a wonderful 4-page write-up on the history, lore and facts about the Petroskey Stone.  They even have a very easy to follow, step by step tutorial on hand-polishing these beach treasures!

*All quotes are from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Geological Survey Division.

A lake is the landscape’s most beautiful and expressive feature.  It is earth’s eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature.  ~Henry David Thoreau

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