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Rock Hunting Adventure

Rock Hunting Adventure
Phyllis McCrossin Avatar

Rock Hunting Adventure at Pier Cove: Discovering Lightning Stones

Yesterday, King, Petra, and I drove to Pier Cove to look for lightning stones (septarian stones). The beaches along the west Michigan coast are pretty well-known for these types of stones. According to the Michigan Mineralogical Society, these stones were formed as a ball of clay on the ocean floor nearly 55 million years ago (about the time dinosaurs became extinct) and over time, were filled in with a white to yellow calcite, giving the stone its unique dark background and white cracks.

Collecting Lightning Stones Over the Years

We’ve been collecting lightning stones since my parents moved to Glenn, Michigan in the 1980s. The beach at their private subdivision had thousands of them scattered along the shore, and the kids and I spent hours looking for them – between games of base runner with their dad. Beach glass was another treasure we hunted.

Public Beaches for Lightning Stones

Mom and Dad passed away years ago, and the subdivision is now gated, so King and I have to be content to look for them along public beaches. Pier Cove and Allegan County’s West Side Park are two popular spots for rock hunting. Parking at the Pier Cove beach is limited, but the stairs to the beach are fewer, and I’m all for non-exertion, hence our trip to Pier Cove.

lightning stones

My Lightning Stones Collection

I have had baskets, jars, beach bags, and shoe boxes full of lightning stones which over the years I’ve either given away or released back into the wild. But given the fact that we aren’t getting any younger and I need to add to my collection of “Mom’s weird treasures” for my kids to inherit (since we are happily spending any monetary inheritance they might have had) King obliged and took me rock hunting to Pier Cove.

Historical Significance of Pier Cove

Pier Cove is actually an interesting place. In the mid-1800s, many communities along southwest Michigan’s coastline were shipping ports for the lumber and fruit industry. Pier Cove was one of them. Surveyed in 1839, Pier Cove was once hailed as one of the busiest ports between St. Joseph and Muskegon. I think other communities along the shoreline might disagree, but Pier Cove was a shipping port none-the-less. In fact, before the Civil War, Pier Cove was a bustling community and a major point for lumber distribution with ships departing daily carrying tanbark and cordwood to Chicago. Two piers jutted out into the lake from either side of the creek that spills into Lake Michigan at the site. The village consisted of a church, butcher shop, dry goods store, grist mill, a school, and more. Today what is left are summer homes dotting the shoreline.

pier cove

Rock Hunting at Pier Cove

So, King and I walked the shoreline while Petra waited in the truck (it’s a no dogs beach). While King ventured far down the shoreline (and onto private property), I stuck close to the public portion of the beach and was content to wade into knee-deep water to find my prized lightning stones. I was not disappointed. The water was cold (very, very cold), but the stones were plentiful. The only peril would be convincing my 68-year-old body that it still could maneuver over moss-covered and slippery stones. In warmer weather or water, I might concede to getting my clothes wet, not now though. It would seem the older I get, the longer into the season I wait to actually swim.

I’m going to take my prizes and display them in crystal holders I found on Amazon. To my children (if you are reading this, which I doubt), look for a surprise in your Christmas stocking. Maybe I’ll sell a few since I can only keep so many “treasures” in my 262 square foot home. I’m already storing my electric skillet in with my embroidery. Lightning stones hold a special place in my heart, and each piece is a cherished memory.

rock hunting

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    Yesterday, King, Petra, and I drove to Pier Cove to look for lightning stones (septarian stones). The beaches along the west Michigan coast are pretty well-known for these types of stones.
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