Customer Agate Finds August 2018

This has been an interesting summer of agate hunting in Grand Marais.  There is more rock on the beach than there has been in several years.  Despite the number of beach pebbles, there have not been as many agates brought into the museum as I expected.  Perhaps people are finding them, but not just bringing them in.  However, I have seen some great agates.

Jill Haldeman found two nice agates in the Grand Marais area.  One agate has nice feathered fortification structure.  The other has some of the most bizarre eyes I think I have ever seen.

James Lloyd, from Northville, MI, found a beautiful red and white agate in Grand Marais.  His chosen hunting technique is to “swim” across the rocks on his belly scooping and digging as he goes.  He dug down several inches to get this beauty.  He is pictured with his kids, Ava and Auden.

Kurtis Kares from Mears, MI found several agates in the central and eastern U.P.  He is especially fond of the Eastern U.P. water-washed agates.

The last agate was found by my friend, Claudia, who stays in Woodland Park with her husband for most of the summer.  She came by the museum to show me this cool agate she found yesterday.  It is not the biggest in the world, but it has awesome structure and extremely nice color.

Congratulations for all the great agates!!!!


As I said in the introduction on the home page, spring has not yet sprung in Grand Marais. There is still considerable snow and ice on the Lake Superior shoreline and the back roads around the Grand Marais area are not yet open. It is hard to determine when winter will loosen its grip on the Upper Peninsula, but there most likely will not be decent agate hunting until sometime in May. The good news, though, is that there has been considerable moving ice on the Big Lake. It is ice that moves rock (including agate) to the south shore. So, hopefully, the agate hunting in the Grand Marais area will be good this year!

For this web page update, I would like to feature agates found in southeastern Wisconsin and northwestern Illinois. I received emails with photo attachments from Lars Adams. Although I have seen specimens and other photos of agates found in Wisconsin, these are more translucent with well-defined structure. He also is finding a wide array of silicified fossils and pseudomorphs. Lars has decided to call these agates “Lake Michigan cloud agates.”


The lack of ice flow on Lake Superior this past winter and spring definitely impacted the quality of agate hunting along the shoreline over the summer. Despite fewer agates being found, people still brought some nice agates into the museum.

This first Lake Superior agate was found mid-August by Ann Blanchard, who is from Port Washington, WI.

Cassie Bogotka sent me an email with photos of coldwater agate. It is a marine sedimentary agate  mostly formed in Devonian age limestone, which is 416 to 358 million years old.  This agate is significantly different than the 1.1 billion year old Lake Superior agate that formed in igneous basaltic rock. Although interesting, coldwater agate has little to no value.

A nicely banded Laker was found by my friend, Claudia, at the end of the season. She and her husband stay in Woodland Park most of the summer.

Adrian Gauthier, from Cheboygan, MI, brought these two beautiful agates into the museum in July. The agate on the left is a beautiful water-washed agate. The other is an unusual brecciated agate.

Margaret Kline visited the museum in August. She found the specimens shown below during the 1960s and 1970s. The first picture is Keweenaw prehnite. The other specimens are Lake Superior agates.

I received several emails from Keweenaw seasonal resident, David Schuder. The first is an usual Lake Superior agate found near Eagle Harbor. The green, he says, is Celandonite. The second Laker contains several crystal impressions (the original crystals either popped out or wore away). The third photo he describes as a “hematite plume-like agate,” which was collected at the Calumet & Hecla # 21 Copper mine in Houghton County.Mi.


For the second year in a row there was little to no ice flow on Lake Superior. In other years the ice transports rocks around the basin and moves new rocks to our beach, including agates. The ice we did have moved back and forth at the end of spring and did dredge some rocks and sand up the beach. Also, we have had a lot of rain this spring so Lake Superior is within a couple of inches of the all-time monthly high for July, well above the monthly average. Thus, on some beaches the lake level has covered up the rocks. However, on other beaches the waves have pushed the rocks back up the beach. The movement of rocks along the shoreline is in continual motion – so it is always worth treasure hunting in Grand Marais to look for the elusive agate.

I have agate photos of several nice specimens found in the Grand Marais area. First, however, are a few Keweenaw agates found by David Schuder. The first one was hand-chiseled out of a basaltic cliff, the second is from High Rock Bay, and the third is a beautiful copper replacement agate.

The next agate was found last year by Gary Inman. It should have been posted prior to this, but the computer file was missing in action.

The next monster 1.5 pound specimen is a brecciated agate found by Jill Haldeman (Grand Marais). She brought it into the Gitche Gumee Museum on July 19, 2017.

On July 10th Rod Thomas, from Durand, MI, came into the museum with the half pounder shown below. He found the agate in the Grand Marais area.

Tammy, from Muskegon, did not want to be photographed, but the agate she found near the Lake Superior State Forest Campground, which is located a dozen or so miles east of Grand Marais, is worth showing off. This is a nice skip-n-atom agate. She brought the agate into the museum on July 8th.

Another even larger skip-n-atom agate was found by Brenda Van Appel, from Hesperia, MI. She brought it into the museum on July 20th.


Last year was not a great year for agate hunting, mostly due to the lack of ice flow on Lake Superior. It seems that the ice moves rocks around the basin and moves new rocks to our beach, including agates. Unfortunately, ice on Lake Superior is lacking again this year. Since there is almost no ice, evaporation is expected to be much higher so the lake level may be lower this summer. If that is true, there will be more rock exposed, which may help agate hunting. We will see.

For this update I have some agate pictures that people sent to me. First, here are a few Keweenaw agates found by David Schuder.

Carla and Cal from Wisconsin took my agate class in September and then went agate hunting locally as well as on the north shore. They were successful in finding an agate at Beaver Bay, MN!

While I was out west I spoke at the Albuquerque Gem and Mineral Club. I was a member of this club for two winters a decade ago. It was great to see the members again. Also, thanks to the club members for buying books and agates! Sales from this speaking engagement helped pay a lot of my gas for the trip! Several people brought rocks and agates to show me after my talk was completed. After I arrived home, Claudia Johnson also sent some photos of Luna Blue agates, found in western New Mexico. Some of these photos are below. The second and third photos are of the same agate, showing the rough side and then the cut side.

Finally, in November Chris Seidl from Minnesota visited the U.P. He showed me some of his prime Lake Superior agates. These are all BIG!


Since the museum just opened the other day I have had a few customers bring agates in, but none that were worthy of posting photos for this update. So instead I took photos of some of the agates that I have in the museum’s gift shop. All the photos were taken with my USB microscope camera.

Here are a few photos of Mexican crazy lace agates…..

Here are some photos of Lake Superior agates.


CUSTOMER AGATE FINDS: Lake Superior Agate Close Up Photos November 2015

The agate hunting season in Grand Marais this year was a good one. Almost every day one or more people came into the museum to show off their beautiful finds. I also receive photos via email attachments. The end of June I received an email from someone asking if a series of rocks they found are agates. Below are three of these specimens – all Lake Superior agates of course.

In June Larry and Susan Hales visited the museum to show me four specimens. The red and white rock is a geode, which is rare to find on the Lake Superior beach since they usually do not survive the pounding of the waves.

David Schuder from the Keweenaw sent me photos of some of his summer finds. The first two photos show the cut side and raw side of a beautiful Laker. The third photo is an intricate Lake Superior agate with tubes, as well as some moss and sagenite structure. The structure in the fourth photo illustrates the impact that geothermal activity in the vicinity of the vesical pocket can have on agate formation.

Rod and Karen Thomas from Durano, MI visited the museum in June. They showed off an 18 ounce quartz ball agate that has some banding as well as eye formations. They also shared with me a beautiful Lake Superior agate they found a few years ago that they decided to cut since the raw specimen did not show much of the structure. Once cut, you can clearly see fortification banding as well as interesting center inclusions.

Jan Frederik Valkenberg Castro found the following agate in the mountains of the Dominican Republic. It is always awesome to see the similarities and differences that agates formed elsewhere in the world have as compared to Lake Superior agates.

In August as I was closing the museum one evening, a couple (Mandy and Taylor from Kalamazoo, MI) came in and asked me to tell them what an “A-GATE” is. I gave them a quick definition and convinced them to buy the new agate book, since they were interested in trying to find one. The next day they returned to the museum when Mandy showed me the first agate she ever found. She also explained that they had never heard of agates before and that they were on their honeymoon. I was excited for them and told her that the specimen she found was one of the nicest agates I saw all summer.

Finally, I would like to apologize to Steve Evoy and Susan Bitely who brought agates into the museum the beginning of July. Due to camera issues, I lost some of the photos that, unfortunately, were not able to be recovered. Thus, I could not include these photos in this update.

CUSTOMER AGATE FINDS: Lake Superior Agate Close Up Photos June 2015

Although the agate season is just beginning, I still have some great photos to share. Another agate hunter with whom I regularly correspond via email is David Schuder from Sedar Bay in the Keweenaw Peninsula. David and some of his cohorts appreciate all Lake Superior agates, but as he explains, “anyone can have a red & white Laker or a peeler, etc. It is the neat minerals that appear  as inclusions that get my attention.”

The first is a yellow-orange shadow agate found in Sedar Bay.

David also found this incredibly rare Lake Superior cloud agate.

How about David’s copper replacement agates from the Keweenaw!

David’s next agate is a rare dendritic, also out of Sedar Bay. He explained in his email that this Laker has inclusions of hematite, goethite, and limonite in a chalcedony gray agate fill with some minor Adularia.

The last agate photo submitted by David is one that he calls the clown agate.

Brandon Haddock visits Grand Marais several times a year, including in the winter when he and his friend goes winter camping. Here are a couple of photos of nice agates that Brandon found last year in the Grand Marais area.

Tony from the Granite Falls, MN area found this nine ounce agate and sliced the end off.

Last September a family visited my booth to show off some fantastic agates. Too much time has passed and I no longer can locate the card on which I recorded the name. If you see this and would like your name included, please email me at

The other day Mark Buda from Bay City, MI visited the museum again. When he was here last year, he told me about acquiring a number of agates from an estate sale, including two large Lake Superior agates. He had the scuffed up one face polished. The first face polished specimen is four pounds. It includes some fortification sections as well as several tubes. The other specimen is a five pound fortification agate.

CUSTOMER AGATE FINDS: Lake Superior Agate Close Up Photos February 2015

With winter the museum is not open so I do not have any current customer agate finds. So for this month’s update I searched through my supply of close up photos of Lake Superior agates. Some of these pictures I took using either my USB microscope camera or my Nikon. Some are also cropped pictures from my agate book, Agates Inside Out. These pictures were taken by Tom Shearer.


The agate hunting this summer has been OK, but not great. We were expecting a superb summer due to the massive amounts of ice on Lake Superior last winter. It has been many years since we had a lot of ice. In fact, according to NOAA the ice coverage on Lake Superior is down 70 percent since the mid-1970s. When the ice first begins forming in early winter, it forms at the high water mark where rocks get stuck under the ice. Wind shifts can cause the ice to break away and float around Lake Superior carrying its load of rocks. Normally, the spring storms with their north to northwest winds blow the ice with imbedded rock to beach between Grand Marais and Whitefish Point, where the ice melts and dumps its load. Memorial Day weekend we were down the beach and calling the icebergs in. Nature had another plan. For the next four days the wind blew strong from the south and blew the ice north to Canada. The ice never came back.

Despite the ice not bringing new rock to our beach, there have been several great agates found this summer. For this web page update I’ll include several.

The first agate was found by Grand Marais resident, Michael Kinlaw. Good job, Michael!

The next agate was found in the Grand Marais area in June by Sally Shippy.

Gordon Stanlake from Brown City, MI found several nice agates in the Grand Marais area.

My process for trying to link the photos with the agate finder names is to write their names on a business card along with their home towns and dates that I took the pictures. I have one card with no date so I am hoping that this is Peggy Bowman from Clyde, MI with her agate. If not, please send me an email to .

Jack Kitchen from St. Clair Shores, MI found this nice candy striped Laker that also has some shadow bands.

B.B. Bodin and Mark Bowen are rookie agate hunters. They bought my book and took the online class last fall and winter. Here are just a few of the dozens of large agates they have found this spring and summer.

Summer resident, Carol Rose, took my onsite rockhounding class several years ago. She is now an avid and successful agate hunter. Good job, Carol!

Jane Anderson from Fridley, MN stopped by the Gitche Gumee Museum to show me some of her agate finds. She did find these in Minnesota.

I may have mixed up a few of my note cards. The only card I have that corresponds with the dates for the two photos has listed Janel Novak. If these are your agates and you are not Janel, please send me an email to .

I have a feeling that the agate found by Peggy Bowman from Clyde, MI is shown below. I face polished this agate; the before and after pictures show the transformation.

Tyler Orton from Caro, MI found this nice Lake Superior agate.

The Chickering family had good agate hunting luck as they visited various beaches across the Eastern Upper Peninsula.

Here is an agate found by Priscilla from Kingsford, MI. She found it near Muskallonge State Park around three years ago. This is a “skipping atom agate.” After seeing several of these, I believe that the quartz in these specimens have metamorphosed into this unusual pattern.

A frequent museum visitor who did not want to be photographed brought into the museum on June 11th. It is an interesting tube agate.