You've heard the stories and tales of these popular stones, or stumbled across one at the beach wondering what type of fossil it is. These stones have had quite a unique history long before the dinosaurs roamed the earth, and their name is tied to Native American legend and folklore. They are no ordinary fossil.
What is a Petoskey Stone?A Petoskey Stone is a fossil of colonial coral. These corals lived in warm shallow seas that covered Michigan during Devonian time, some 350 million years ago. Michigan, believe it or not, was located at the equator. The Petoskey Stone, or the hexagonaria percarinata, thrived with the marine life in tropical reefs. Earth's plates moved Michigan up to the 45th parallel, where it is located today, and glacial movement spread the fossils across the northern Lower Peninsula with the most concentration in the Petoskey area. Hexagonaria percarinata consist of many six-sided corallites, which are the skeletons of the coral polyps. The center of each polyp was the mouth for the tentacles that reached out for food. Its hexagonal shape, thin lines, and the dark "eye" at each center are distinguishing characteristics of Michigan's official state stone.
The Legend of the name Petoskey:The name Petoskey originated late in the 18th century stemming from an Ottawa Indian legend. According to the legend, a descendant of French nobility named Antoine Carre visited what is now the Petoskey area where he met and married an Ottawa Indian Princess. A son was born to the couple in the spring of 1787 As the sun rose, its rays fell on the face of the new baby. Noting the glorious sunshine on his son's face, the Chief proclaimed, "His name shall be Petosegay (or Bedosegay, there are several versions). He shall become an important person."
Petosegay did indeed become an important figure in his lifetime acquiring much land and stature. He married an Ottawa Chief's daughter and had two daughters and eight sons and then had a city named after him which we know today as Petoskey (an English adaptation of his name, Petosegay).
Where to Find Them:The Petoskey Stone can be found of course on the beaches of Petoskey and polished in gift shops, but Charlevoix's beaches are also home to the ancient treasures as well. Stop by The Treasure Chest gift shop on Park Avenue in Charlevoix to purchase polished stones and check out their new Petoskey Stone room!
For those who look, Petoskey Stones are along the beaches and inland in gravel deposits. Begin your Petoskey Stone hunting at the following beaches in Charlevoix: