Grindstone City, MI — April 18, 2020
Over the last several weeks, The Lasco Press took you on Michigan road trips to the Blue Water Bridge in Port Huron, the Michigan Elk Herd outside of Gaylord, hunting for Petoskey Stones, and Exploring Kensington Metropark. This week we will continue the series with a drive up the western side of Michigan’s thumb to Grindstone City.
Again we want to emphasize the importance of following stay safe practices. Escaping the boredom of sheltering in place, even for a few hours, is a refreshing break when done within the guidelines of Michigan’s Governor’s updated Executive Order.
Individuals may leave their home or place of residence, and travel as necessary:
1. To engage in outdoor activity, including walking, hiking, running, cycling, or any other recreational activity consistent with remaining at least six feet from people from outside the individual’s household.
Playing by the rules is important for all of us. Take this interruption in our regular routine to enjoy the sights Michigan has to offer in a virus-safe manner. Fill up the car, pack a lunch and see some of the amazing sights closeby in our state. “Social Distancing” is easy if you stay in your vehicle.
Grindstone City is on the northernmost tip of the thumb, close to Port Austin, overlooking Lake Huron. From Fenton, it is less than a two and a half-hour drive to Grindstone City. While there are several routes to travel, we recommend heading north on Hwy. 23 / I-75 to Hwy. 25 just past Saginaw. Going east through Bay City adds a bonus to the drive, viewing the beautiful old victorian style homes along Center Ave. downtown.
We spotted whitetail deer, raccoons, herons, and squirrels along the roadside. In addition, when you reach Bay Port, you’re treated to great views of Saginaw Bay with several public access spots to stop and stroll the sandy and stone beaches.
This is a trip we would like to repeat when the local shops and restaurants are open to explore and enjoy.
According to huroncounty.com: Tucked away off the beaten path of M-25 in Huron County lies the village of Grindstone City. In 1834, the natural harbor drew Captain Aaron Peer when his schooner, the Rip Van Winkle, sought safety during a storm on Lake Huron. When the crew evacuated the ship to explore the wooded lands they discovered unusual flat stones along the shorefront. Peer took some of the stone samples to Detroit where it was deemed these stones were superior to the Ohio flagstone planned to pave small sections of Jefferson and Woodward Avenues. Detroit ordered enough rock for the job from Peer, and this began the export of stones from Grindstone City.
Of course, the stones were not destined to simply pave the streets. Soon, Peer’s sailors discovered these stones were ideal for sharpening their tools and realized they would make excellent grindstones. In 1836, Peer purchased 400 acres of land, becoming the first person to locate land in Huron County, and established his grindstone quarrying operation. After 50 successful years of producing grindstones, Peer sold the business to the Cleveland Stone Company who became the sole proprietor of the industry and the last to operate the quarries. The largest stone ever turned from Grindstone City weighed over 6,000 pounds; the memorial stone on the corner of Copeland and Rouse Road is said to weigh 4,750 pounds.
What to Look For
Grindstones are a popular yard decoration in the area. A portion of the shore of the harbor is lined with them. Several stacked displays of the round stone discs are available for close-up inspection.
Packing a lunch or taking snacks is recommended as most area restaurants are closed. Travel with a full tank of gas as service stations are not plentiful in the outlying areas. Public access areas to points along Saginaw Bay are marked, most require a drive off of Hwy. 25 to reach the shoreline. Crowds are nonexistent, spring is a good time to visit for social distancing. Have fun, stay safe.