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Beach Stones and Sand Formations: A Michigan Rock Hound's Pictorial Paradise

Updated on October 17, 2015

Brief February Snow Melt Reveal Beach Stone Clusters

Septarium Brown Stones with White Fissures
Septarium Brown Stones with White Fissures
The rush of the snow melt over Pier Cove Creek unburies Septarium Brown Stones
The rush of the snow melt over Pier Cove Creek unburies Septarium Brown Stones
The rush of the creek unburies Septarium Brown Stones by the dozens
The rush of the creek unburies Septarium Brown Stones by the dozens

Rare Stones on Lake Michigan Beach

I've had a fascination for stones ever since I was a little girl. These days I love to collect them and spread them all around my garden landscape. Years ago, after moving into the region bordering Van Buren and Allegan Counties of Southwest Michigan, I was fascinated by the discovery of Septarium (not Septarian) brown stones. These weather smoothed stones are extremely rare and are found only in one other location around the globe; curiously, in India. The reddish brown stone is the bedrock here, it's a type of sedimentary mud stone; not all possess the telltale veining. The white veins of the Septarium are filled with a type of calcite. Another name for them sometimes is Turtle Stone, obviously due to resemblance of a turtle shell pattern. Sand smoothed granite and limestone are other common stones found nearby the brown stones. The deep gray and other various colored stones provide a striking contrast from the warm reddish brown tones!

Earlier this week we enjoyed a temporary relief from winter with 50 degree temps. As a result, the snow melt replenished the ravine that empties into Pier Cove with a steady stream of crystal clear water. It even caused a washout over the culdesac on one lane of the road to the beach. The steady flow of snow melt has uncovered the secret glory of the stones. The smooth stones become buried under sand during summer months so it's a rare and much appreciated sight for this rock hound.

Pier Cove creek in route to Lake Michigan before  culdesac wash out under Blue Star Hwy.
Pier Cove creek in route to Lake Michigan before culdesac wash out under Blue Star Hwy.
Pier Cove creek before a major meltdown was blocked by the frozen iceshelf and ran along the shoreline before emptying into Lake Michigan
Pier Cove creek before a major meltdown was blocked by the frozen iceshelf and ran along the shoreline before emptying into Lake Michigan
Pier Cove Creek frozen sand banks
Pier Cove Creek frozen sand banks
Crinoid Fossil among Brown Stones
Crinoid Fossil among Brown Stones
Can you spot the Septarium?
Can you spot the Septarium?
Stones trapped in sand and clay in Pier Cove Creek
Stones trapped in sand and clay in Pier Cove Creek

Snow Melt Formations

With the rapid snow melted, unusual patterns in the sand created by the wind, waves and the former frosty cover, are finally revealed. Actually, much of the sand formations hold their shape for days even on the eroded and steep banks along the creek. The reason being is because the banks are actually a mixture of ice and snow stabilizing the sprinkly nature of the sand.

The patterns of frozen sand on banks of Pier Cove Creek look like Georgia red stone cliffs.
The patterns of frozen sand on banks of Pier Cove Creek look like Georgia red stone cliffs.
Intricate frozen sand patterns on banks of Pier Cove Creek
Intricate frozen sand patterns on banks of Pier Cove Creek
Frozen ripple lying on the shoreline
Frozen ripple lying on the shoreline
Sand ripples suspended by hidden ice and snow underneath lying on the shoreline
Sand ripples suspended by hidden ice and snow underneath lying on the shoreline
More evidence of melting snow creates lovely patterns on the beach
More evidence of melting snow creates lovely patterns on the beach
Leaking water and algae from hole in iron breaker wall holding back erosion on Lake Michigan bluff
Leaking water and algae from hole in iron breaker wall holding back erosion on Lake Michigan bluff
Weathered driftwood lying in Pier Cover Creek
Weathered driftwood lying in Pier Cover Creek

Snow Mounds Pose Secret Danger

There were many beach lovers coming and going this particular February day in 2011. Some of them dared walk beyond the shoreline onto ice covered Lake Michigan. When standing on it you can hear the trickles of water moving under the ice, and cracking sounds too. A few people did fall in, but luckily the water isn't too deep on the shore side of the 25ft ice piles. The danger is just beyond those huge ice mounds. Unfortunately, every year when temps rise, someone on the western shores of the Lake Michigan drowns from ice and snow giving way under their feet. It's only stable to walk on as long as you don't venture anywhere near the edge. From the vantage point on top of the ice hills you have no way of knowing if your walking on the edge of a hollowed out overhang. It's best to keep off them soon as the meltdown begins.

Safe to walk on this side of the 25ft ice piles
Safe to walk on this side of the 25ft ice piles
The stream is leaking from the 100ft bluff just behind this viewpoint where erosion is a serious issue.
The stream is leaking from the 100ft bluff just behind this viewpoint where erosion is a serious issue.
I discovered many of these curious circle formations. Casper the friendly ghost is staring at you!
I discovered many of these curious circle formations. Casper the friendly ghost is staring at you!
Curious formations along frozen Lake Michigan shoreline
Curious formations along frozen Lake Michigan shoreline
King and queen of the hill on frozen ice shelf of Lake Michigan, but are they safe?
King and queen of the hill on frozen ice shelf of Lake Michigan, but are they safe?

Winter Returns

I went back to Pier Cove Beach the next day. A sprinkling of ice snow mix began to fall on the beach with a million tink, tink, tinks! Aaaah, the sounds of nature! The barrage of new snow landed between the stones illuminating them from their usual neutral sandy colored backdrop.

Snowfall illuminates brown stones from nuetral color of sand along the banks of Pier Cove Creek
Snowfall illuminates brown stones from nuetral color of sand along the banks of Pier Cove Creek
Septarium Stone
Septarium Stone
A display of marbled gray granite, sandstone and brown stone embedded with tiny fossils
A display of marbled gray granite, sandstone and brown stone embedded with tiny fossils
Brown stones with bits of seashells and crinoids embedded  in them are a common site found on the beach and creek
Brown stones with bits of seashells and crinoids embedded in them are a common site found on the beach and creek

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    • profile image

      Vicki Russell 6 years ago

      Way cool, Kathi...you are so talented! I love stones too.

    • profile image

      inmate702 6 years ago

      Nice imagery!

    • Kay Creates profile image

      Kay Creates 6 years ago from Ohio

      I love looking for interesting rocks and formations when I'm out hiking. I enjoyed your photos.

    • Mentalist acer profile image

      Mentalist acer 6 years ago from A Voice in your Mind!

      I remember a popular hobby type stone polisher you could buy and make beautiful polished stones that were,to me,as nice as precious gems,my neieghbor had one.;)

    • Fossillady profile image
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      Kathi 6 years ago from Saugatuck Michigan

      Vicki, Inmate,Kay & Acer, I do so appreciate your positive feedback. Acer, I remember those polishing tumblers too. Pretty sure they are still available for sale!

    • profile image

      Laine 6 years ago

      Wow! LOVED this! You have a gift!!

    • Docmo profile image

      Mohan Kumar 6 years ago from UK

      Wow!wow!wow! ( one wow won't do for this hub) Fossillady, you have the eye of an artist, the heart of a poet and the brain of a Geologist... I absolutely adored this hub, gonna bookmark it and keep coming back. There is so much beauty in here, it's amazing. In a strange coincidence I have a feeling I have seen septarium stones in the river beds in India as that pic looks so familiar and tranquil. voted way, way up.

    • Fossillady profile image
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      Kathi 6 years ago from Saugatuck Michigan

      Thanks Laine, preciate the comment

      Docmo, that is way cool, never been out of the country let alone India. Would love to travel some day! Thank you for the super duper compliments! I'm so glad you found beauty in the photos!

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 6 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      A magnificent hub! Loooooooooooove these pictures so much. Beauty is everywhere (including the writer). All of nature attracts me and energizes my senses. Stones and rocks - sand formations, make me feel so alive. Thank you for "reviving" me.

    • Fossillady profile image
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      Kathi 6 years ago from Saugatuck Michigan

      Thank you sweet lady! Nice to see you! Glad you felt revived and thank you for the nice compliment! Hope you're keeping warm on this chilly winter evening!

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 6 years ago from malang-indonesia

      Wow...wow...wow....wow...wow. May I continue my "wow". I don't have any word to express my feeling after saw all stunning pictures. I never doubt that you are great photographer. Beautiful and so relaxing. I love water and all the things related with something natural. I can find through this hub. Well done, my friend. I give my vote special for you. Take care!

      Prasetio

    • Fossillady profile image
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      Kathi 6 years ago from Saugatuck Michigan

      Pras, thank you, thank you, thank you,I am sooo happy that you enjoyed the photos. We are blessed with the beauty of nature all around! You have the heart and soul to recognize it! Hugs and smiles!

    • b. Malin profile image

      b. Malin 6 years ago

      What a wonderful Hub on Beach Stones and Sand Formations, so rich and informative, along with pictures that are so beautiful...What a wonderful treat for all to see in February...This is a Present, Nature at its finest, captured as only you can Fossillady.

    • Winsome profile image

      Winsome 6 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas

      Kathi what a show you put on for us. You have inspired me to take my camera to the beach. We have some great ones near here--Laguna Beach is very picturesque and has some awesome formations and rocks.

      Thank you for the visual treat and Septarium review. =:)

    • A.A. Zavala profile image

      Augustine A Zavala 6 years ago from Texas

      Images are absolutely stunning. Most people don't realize how beautiful Michigan is, I know I didn't. But then again, I worked in the industrial side of southern Detroit. Thank you for sharing the beautiful imagery.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 6 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Your pictures are so beautiful ! I would love to have some of the rocks for my flower garden. I bought white rocks last year, but they are small and expensive. I am so ready for spring. Thank you for showing your pictures. Take Care.

      Cheers

    • Fossillady profile image
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      Kathi 6 years ago from Saugatuck Michigan

      B.,Winsome,A.A.,Ruby, thank you for all your awesome comments! You inspire me to continue to get behind the camera and return the favor!

    • mannyrolando profile image

      mannyrolando 6 years ago

      I really tried but could not pick a favorite photograph among the many... I loved them all. What a wonderful hub, informative and the photographs, simply magnificent! I truly love how you SEE nature and I love the fact that you stop to photograph it and share it!

    • Fossillady profile image
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      Kathi 6 years ago from Saugatuck Michigan

      well that says a lot coming from a talented photographer such as yourself! thank you manny

    • suegillespie profile image

      suegillespie 6 years ago

      how awesome....I too like stones! Cool Hub.

    • Mike Outdoors profile image

      Mike Outdoors 6 years ago from Somewhere in Canada

      Very nice photographs!

    • Fossillady profile image
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      Kathi 6 years ago from Saugatuck Michigan

      sue, mike, thank you both for stopping by, glad you enjoyed the photos

    • thewayeyeseeit profile image

      thewayeyeseeit 6 years ago from Woodstock, GA

      Great pictures. The textures and colors are terrific. You have a good eye for "composition in abstract."

    • Fossillady profile image
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      Kathi 6 years ago from Saugatuck Michigan

      thanks for stopping by, very nice compliment! i'm encouraged to keep on shooting, even with my inferior camera. saving for a decent one!

    • epigramman profile image

      epigramman 6 years ago

      ....okay with due respect to Docmo you shall only get one 'wow' from me ....lol lol - but what a 'wow' - are you ready? - wowwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww

      .......well sometimes it's about the quality of the 'wow' not the quantity!!

    • epigramman profile image

      epigramman 6 years ago

      ...I must get my very elusive buddy Doug to come here because I know he would love this Kathi (you remember my photographer friend?) .....and this to me is pure art from the lense - and it's your lense - and what a lense it is - you really do take the art of photography to another level and I am so very glad to have found you - is the National Geographic calling you for some freelance work? You're that good!!!!!!!!

    • Fossillady profile image
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      Kathi 6 years ago from Saugatuck Michigan

      You are too funny, the w's went across the full length of the page. lol! Thank you for your everlasting support sweet man. I love it when you stop by! I've come across quiet Doug a few times on Redbubble lately. I was pleased he left a nice comment! Hugs

    • katiem2 profile image

      katiem2 6 years ago from I'm outta here

      What an amazing collection of perfect beauty and the beauty of winter melting away WOW what a wonder. You captured this perfectly and so magically. I will def be back to enjoy the sand smoothed stones and beach melt photo essay. Very Well Done and Brilliant! :) Katie

    • profile image

      Doppy 6 years ago

      These photos are indeed beautiful, and you have captured

      your subject so very well. It makes stones come to life.

      Excellent work!!!!

    • Fossillady profile image
      Author

      Kathi 6 years ago from Saugatuck Michigan

      Hi Katie, nice to meet you finally, I've seen you around on hubpages several times and have meant to check out your hubs but I guess you beat me to the punch! thank you for the nice compliment! Glad you like the photos. I'll see you around!

      Hi Doppy,

      You finally left a comment! Thank you for the wonderful compliment! You were my biggest influence! xxxooo

    • profile image

      Charlinex 6 years ago

      Thank you, now I have learned something new about Michigan.

    • Fossillady profile image
      Author

      Kathi 6 years ago from Saugatuck Michigan

      Fantastic, that's what its all about! thank you for stopping by!

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 6 years ago from Oakley, CA

      WOW! Those are great photos. I love the rocks with the dikes in them--such interesting patterns!

      Your driftwood photo is superb, and the erosion in the sand cliffs threw me back decades in time to our family vacation and the formation known as "The Ghostly Grottoes" at Bryce Canyon National Park.

      Good job! Bounced all over the buttons!

    • Fossillady profile image
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      Kathi 6 years ago from Saugatuck Michigan

      Would love to go to Ghostly Grottoes someday! Thanks for stopping by and preciate the great comment!

    • ImChemist profile image

      ImChemist 6 years ago

      Thanks for sharing this beautiful pictures that i rated beautiful.

    • Fossillady profile image
      Author

      Kathi 6 years ago from Saugatuck Michigan

      ImChemist, your avatar is very adorable, thanks for stopping by and leaving a nice compliment!

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 6 years ago from North Carolina

      I LOVE stones and have been a collector of them ever since I was a young girl. I would 'sense' the stones and feel that one would be calling to me...if that makes any crazy sense at all.

      I still have stones from when I was very young...

      I absolutely LOVED this hub; voted it up and AWESOME

      It is fantastic-rich in information AND, the photos are so beautiful, eye catching and clear. I can almost reach out and touch them.

      Fantastic hub, thanks.

    • Fossillady profile image
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      Kathi 6 years ago from Saugatuck Michigan

      Thank you for the nice compliments! I know what you mean that you sensed the stone calling, I do believe there is a spirit and energy in all of nature! Wow, I couldn't tell you I had stones from my childhood, that is very cool.

    • toknowinfo profile image

      toknowinfo 6 years ago

      Beautiful and amazing pictures. I can keep looking at them over and over and i see something different each time. Thank you for sharing these photos. Again, I am sharing this on stumbleupon. Rated up and beautiful.

    • Fossillady profile image
      Author

      Kathi 6 years ago from Saugatuck Michigan

      Thank you tkw, Cool comment, I truly appreciate it! Smiles

    • brightforyou profile image

      Helen 6 years ago from Florida

      Great photography - you really are an artist! Thanks for sharing these wonderful photos. :-) Helen

    • Fossillady profile image
      Author

      Kathi 6 years ago from Saugatuck Michigan

      Thank you Helen, I'm crazy for rocks, tee hee

    • Fennelseed profile image

      Annie Fenn 5 years ago from Australia

      Hi Fossillady, I have really enjoyed your images. I love close ups from nature. Stones and gemstones have always been a special interest of mine as my late Father used to collect them and polish them up in a gemstone tumbler (I think that is what Mentalist Acer was referring to).

      I look forward to seeing more of your work.

    • Fossillady profile image
      Author

      Kathi 5 years ago from Saugatuck Michigan

      Hi Fennelseed, nice to meet you! Thank you for your geneous compliment! I'm glad it reminded you of your father and thank you for sharing that! Take Care

    • PETER LUMETTA profile image

      PETER LUMETTA 5 years ago from KENAI, ALAKSA

      Hi Kathi, wonderful presentation of a story close to my heart. I'm an old rock licker from Michigan that became a Gemologist. I still love rocks. I used to own a small farm in Sturgis down by South Bend. your story and photos brought me back. Bravo!

    • Fossillady profile image
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      Kathi 5 years ago from Saugatuck Michigan

      That's a great story Peter, I lived in Mishawaka for a few years back in the 80's, know the area well! Fascinating work your path has taken you! Glad it took you back!

    • Movie Master profile image

      Movie Master 5 years ago from United Kingdom

      Hi Fossillady, I too have always had a fasination with stones and pebbles! they have a special beauty all of their own! beautifully captured in your wonderful photographs, I love the sand formations, voted up and beautiful.

    • Fossillady profile image
      Author

      Kathi 5 years ago from Saugatuck Michigan

      Hi MM, I really appreciate all you kind comments and stops through my hubs! Hope you have a great day!

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 5 years ago from Wales

      Having grown up in a small seas-ide town a lot of my childhood was spent scouring the beaches for stones,driftwood and all sorts of treasures.

      I loved this one and thanks for sharing.

      Take care

      Eiddwen.

    • The Dirt Farmer profile image

      Jill Spencer 5 years ago from United States

      Your sand photos are particularly stunning. What wonderful shots! Vote up!

    • PADDYBOY60 profile image

      PADDYBOY60 5 years ago from Centreville Michigan

      I love these photos! I am a bit of a rock hound myself. Wherever I go on vacation I try to pick up a couple of unusual rocks. I have a few from a river in South Carolina, where I go fishing every year.

    • profile image

      george 4 years ago

      barca

    • SidKemp profile image

      Sid Kemp 4 years ago from Boca Raton, Florida (near Miami and Palm Beach)

      Such rich colors. Thank you. Just gazing at these is a beautiful meditation.

    • Steven Gray profile image

      Steven Gray 4 years ago from Pensacola, Florida

      Beautiful images; thanks for sharing.

    • Darrylmdavis profile image

      Darrylmdavis 4 years ago from Brussels, Belgium

      Great hub! Reminds me of a series I once did in South Wales in the UK.

    • profile image

      Matt 4 years ago

      Cool. Michigan beach stones are so colorful and diverse. Some are 2 billion years old.

      Cheers

    • cat on a soapbox profile image

      Catherine Tally 4 years ago from Los Angeles

      Outstanding in every way!!! :)

    • SidKemp profile image

      Sid Kemp 3 years ago from Boca Raton, Florida (near Miami and Palm Beach)

      Thank you! I've come back for another visit to calm my mind. Sand, snow, and rock create such beauty together.

    • Fossillady profile image
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      Kathi 3 years ago from Saugatuck Michigan

      Oh thank you Sid, you may come back anytime, I'm glad you feel calm when viewing the sand, snow and rocks! :O)

    • Rolly A Chabot profile image

      Rolly A Chabot 3 years ago from Alberta Canada

      Hi Fossillady... wow what a great collection of photos and your words of sharing. Loved it.

      Something tells me that you probably bring as many home as you can. I started a collection years ago, even with the dates and locations where I found them.

      Great read and thank you for all the hard work...

      Hugs and Blessings

    • Fossillady profile image
      Author

      Kathi 3 years ago from Saugatuck Michigan

      Hi Rolly, Good to see you, your hunch is right, you should see my landscaping . . . rocks everywhere, lol, but not necessarily the rare septarium. There's a secluded beach with oodles of large granite stones which I've collected. I like to collect smoothed small stones too, some look like bird eggs and lots of others are soft muted colors of grays,pinks and purples. Crazy for rocks, Hugs, Kathi

    • profile image

      Catherine Kirby 3 years ago

      i have found a dark grey rock 3 inch by 3 inch by 1 and a half inch but very smooth with what appears to be a white crystal perfect ring right round it in the middle , can anyone shed any light on what may of caused this or has anyone seen this type of rock before please

    • Fossillady profile image
      Author

      Kathi 3 years ago from Saugatuck Michigan

      Hmm, would need to see it. Sounds interesting. Where did you find it?

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 2 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Great hub and lovely photos! I loved collecting precious stones from the Jersey shore when I was little---along with seashells, too. Plenty of useful information for a rock collector.

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 2 years ago

      Just came across this beautiful hub! We love Lake Michigan and Lake Superior and have collected a lot of these stones. Such a beautiful area!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Like you, our garden is also adorned with many rocks found and brought back from various locations...vacation trips, and the like. I loved this hub! Your photography is absolutely beautiful and stunning. I have never seen a Septarium brown stone. Interesting that the only 2 locations in the world is where you live and in India. Clicked every up vote except funny and will share this far and wide. :)

    • kittythedreamer profile image

      Nicole Canfield 2 years ago from the Ether

      Oh my goodness! I so enjoyed the photos in this hub, Fossillady! What beauty in nature. Thank you for sharing with us. :)

    • Arachnea profile image

      Tanya Jones 2 years ago from Texas USA

      I have always enjoyed collecting shells and stones from the beach. It's been a while though. Interesting topic for a hub. Shared.

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 2 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      The beach stones colors are beautiful, an artwork naturally

    • Sharing a Bit profile image

      Shelli Godinho 2 years ago from Ontario, California

      Amazing and breath taking. I also love stone/rocks. I have collected so may over the years I decided to let others enjoy them as well. I created wire wrapped pendants. I also love taking pictures but my infatuation is the sky and clouds.

    • BAMwer profile image

      Beverly Werner 2 years ago from Catasauqua

      Beautiful pictures - awesome!

    • hostaguy profile image

      frank nyikos 2 years ago from 8374 E State Rd 45 Unionville IN 47468

      Fabulous images! Funny how the most beautiful place on earth is right outside one's front door.

      I love stones too. I have interesting ones scattered all over the house. When ever I find one I pick it up. I pack them up when it is too hard to find a nook or cranny to put even one more. So, I of course have countless boxes, plastic containers and glass jars full of past stones in the crawl space waiting to be rediscovered all over again.

      Thanks for the good read and eye candy

    • Fossillady profile image
      Author

      Kathi 2 years ago from Saugatuck Michigan

      Oh gosh, I really appreciate all the wonderful recent comments from mutual stone hounds like hostaguy, BAMwer, Sharing a Bit, peachpurple, Arachnea, kittydreamer, Peggy W, and Kristen!

    • poetryman6969 profile image

      poetryman6969 21 months ago

      You chose a great subject here. Love the beautiful photos.

    • profile image

      Lori Veldheer 12 months ago

      Hi!

      I came across this on Pinterest because I love these stones. I pinned it and wanted to find out where else in the world they are found so I started reading. I cannot believe what I read! I have also collected most of mine from Pier Cove Park! Such a small world!

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