Bolder-size Petoskey stone sparks interest

Ever since an article earlier this month in the Detroit Free Press made mention of a bolder-sized Petoskey stone at the Besser Museum’s Fossil Park, the museum has seen an uptick in people coming from outside the area to see the stone.

We had a couple who drove up from Indiana,” said Christine Witulski, executive director at the museum. “The day before that we had a couple come over from the west side of the state close by Mt. Pleasant. Then we had a couple drive up from Flint to see it.”

The estimated 8,000 pound Petoskey stone came from the Lafarge Alpena Quarry. Witulski was doing some fossil hunting there in 2014 when she spotted the stone. It was transported to the museum from the quarry by way of a payloader.

“This is not something anyone is going to pick up and put in the back of their truck,” Witulski said of the sheer size of the stone.

Among those whose interest was sparked by the Free Press article were Walter Rosser and his sister, Jeanette Rosser, who came from Flint. Walter told Witulski that his parents were teachers and his father was part of the geology club in Clio. His grandfather also owned a gravel pit and so Walter spent lots of time rock hunting.

“They also enjoyed the fall colors on their drive up,” Witulski said.

The Free Press opted to write a story about the permanent installation of a 93-pound Petoskey stone in Detroit, and in the process, learned of the even larger specimen at the Besser Museum.

The much smaller, 93-pound Petoskey stone was discovered in 2015 by a Manistee County man in Lake Michigan near Northport, and he lugged it to shore and took it home. The discovery went viral on social media, and because the rock was more than the 25-pound limit, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources confiscated it.

Ultimately, the rock was announced to become a permanent display at the DNR Outdoor Adventure Center in Detroit.

The Pestoskey stone, Michigan’s state stone, is fossilized coral that lived in the warm, shallow seas covering Michigan during the Devonian era about 350 million years ago.