January 2023

The 2022 agate hunting season was a little better than the 2021 season, which was better than the season in 2020. It became clear this year that there is still a large gap in skill between those who exert the effort to get up the learning curve, spend considerable time agate hunting, and maximize their patience.

The number of people visiting the Gitche Gumee Museum last summer significantly increased, most likely because I had announced that the museum was permanently closed in August. Thus, I did not have much time to look at customers’ agates let alone take photos of them. So I do not have many photos to post in this last webpage update.

Melissa and Charlotte Bolen visited the Grand Marais area from their home in Pinckney, MI. They found the beautifully banded agate shown above.

Another visitor to our beaches was Mark G., from Beaverton, MI. He found this nice 4.42 ounce fortification agate.

An unusual specimen was found by Pam Vermette from Tawas, MI. It has a carnelian cap with cold-water agate-like structure.

Customer Agate Finds – January 2022

The 2021 agate hunting season was a little better than the 2020 season.  It became clear this year that there is still a large gap in skill between those who exert the effort to get up the learning curve, spend considerable time agate hunting, and maximize their patience. One couple who has visited the museum in the past came in with their agate treasures. I took a couple of photos of their agates, but they did not want to be identified. They spent between eight and ten hours a day for a whole week at the end of August, which is significantly more time than most agate hunters spend. Because of their time commitment and patience, they were able to walk to beaches that other people do not go to. Thus, they were rewarded.

In July, Lugina Roberts from Swartz Creek, MI, visited the Grand Marais area. She found this nice carnelian agate.

However, there are many great agates included with this webpage update. Let’s begin with a repeat agate finder, Auden Lloyd, from Northville, MI found a couple of other nice agates in the Grand Marais, MI area the first week of August. I had photos on my IPad, which decided to not work anymore. The Lloyd family sent me some more images including a picture taken of Auden right after he found the agate. One side of the specimen appears to be mostly quartz and amethyst – the other side is clearly agate. Nice find, Auden!

I had two people send me photos of what appears to be cold-water agates. What are cold water agates, you ask? Well, there seem to be different opinions on the subject. This may be because the term is loosely used to identify agate-like rocks that are not as definitive as traditional Lake Superior agates. There may be at least two different categories. Some cold-water agates formed in limestone rock cavities when ancient seawater with a high concentration of silica was absorbed into the sedimentary rock. It is called a “cold water agate” because water from the ancient seas originated from the Earth’s surface making it “cold water.” This water source differs from the hot, silica-enriched water that formed traditional Lake Superior agates. Other cold-water agates may be chert-covered stromatolite fossils wherein drusy quartz and/or chalcedony agate replaced some of the fossil remains. 

The two photos below are cold-water agates found by Annemarie Hams in her yard in northern Wisconsin.

Samuel R. Erven found this 10.2-pound specimen in Grand Rapids, MN. This is clearly a mixed silica rock that most likely is a type of cold-water agate.

In the fall, Debbie Drovdahl found this nice water-washed, skip-an-atom agate in the Grand Marais, MI area. Information about these specimens is included in one of the Mineral of the Month posts on this webpage.

This past summer, Kristin Howard, found this intricate Lake Superior agate in the western Upper Peninsula. It is a very complex agate with hurricane-like banding as well as possible tubes and other structures.

In late September, the Dintemann family from River Falls, WI made an appointment to visit the museum. All three kids (Edgar, Nina, and Hattie) found an agate!

Congratulations to everyone who found agates in the Grand Marais area this past summer!

Customer Agate Finds – July 2021

So far this season there have not been many great agates brought into the museum. I did receive an email from Jacqueline Schmidt, who is a Michigan transplant now living in Minnesota. She found this almost pound and a half Lake Superior agate in a farmer’s field. Because it was not found on a beach, it suffered less erosion and still has a partial husk.

In June, Dan McGraw, from Manchester, Iowa, came into the museum to show me some Lakers he found in his home state. During the glaciation time, huge walls of ice scraped Minnesota clean and deposited glacial till (including agates) in Iowa. The largest of the four agates, shown below in the upper right, is four pounds. This specimen is clearly an agate, but only a small window with great banding peaks through the husk on the bottom end of the specimen. I am glad I do not have to make the decision whether to cut or face polish the specimen.  The upper left and bottom right specimens are fortification agates. The lower left agate has an amethyst center.

In June, Mark and Kimberly Buda from Bay City, MI visited the Grand Marais area. East of town Kimberly found this fabulous 4.7 ounce Lake Superior agate. Four photos are included to show all sides of this marvelous specimen.

Customer Agate Finds November 2020

The first thing I must do is to apologize to Auden Lloyd (Northville, MI), and Carrie and Dan Wiersma (Appleton, WI), and Michael (no last name or home town was given).  Auden visited the museum on August 3rd; Carrie and Dan on August 28th, and Michael on September 11th.   I used my iPad to take photos of their agates.  Carrie and Dan had a four-pounder!  Two days ago as I was starting to work on this web page update, my iPad screen went black as I was using it.  I have spent hours following instructions and advice from several sources.  It appears the motherboard quit functioning on the iPad.  I was hoping the photos were sent to iCloud, but I can not seem to find them.  I may have had the automatic upload turned off.  Yesterday I drove to Marquette to buy a new iPad.  I turned the automatic upload function at this time.  I deeply apologize that I cannot share pictures of these agates.  If you read this and would like to send me photos, I will have them added to this web page update.  Please send them to

In addition, I must apologize to the readers for not taking many photos of agates this summer.  It was VERY busy and on most days, I did not have time.  It was all I could do to do what I had to do to take care of customers’ needs.

On July 2nd, Ken Myles came into the Gitche Gumee to show me a fantastic candy stripper that also exhibits shadow banding.  What is funny is that a guy was in the museum the day before who was shown the agate on the beach.  Then I got to see it, too!

Katrina Fryfogle, from Flushing, MI visited the museum on July 31st.  She found a great shadow agate that exhibited the shadow even though the agate was only beach polished.  In many cases, you cannot see the shadow until the agate surface has been polished because you need good optics for the shadow phenomenon to show.

Customer Agate Finds May 2020

Well, not exactly. Since the museum has not been open, I do not have any customer agate photos to use in this web page update. Instead, I used my USB microscope camera to capture a few close-ups. I will start with some Lake Superior agate close-ups. The first is a candy striper, then a shadow agate with amethyst center fill, next to a banded Laker with alternating layers of amethyst, and finally a shadow agate.

Next, I have a few close-up photos of Mexican agates I acquired at the Tucson show in January.

To add a few more photos to this webpage update, I went back in my archives and found these pictures I took at a Moose Lake show around seven years ago. These large Lakers are from a private collection. The last two photos are the top and bottom of the same peeler agate.

Customer Agate Finds November 2019

It was another good year agate hunting in the Grand Marais area this past season. For the second year in a row, the ice break-up in spring resulted in a lot of rock on the beach. I was so busy this summer I did take photos of all the agates brought into the Gitche Gumee Museum, but I did take a few. Many of the agate photos included in this post are not the largest agates or the best agates. However, they represent what is typically found on the Lake Superior beaches.

First, on July 13th Auden Lloyd, from Northville, MI, came into the museum to show off his agate found in the Grand Marais, MI area.

On July 23rd Bruce and Elizabeth Cumberworth (father and daughter) from Dorr, MI stopped by the Gitche Gumee to show off their agates. The membrane agate found by Bruce is a great specimen showing off what happens when an agate pocket starts to fill in (from the outside in), is subjected to geologic forces causing the beginning bands to break off the inside of the vesicle pocket, only to later be recycled and incorporated into the final agate. Elizabeth found the nicely banded paint stone agate.

Two days later Mark and Brandon from Deerton, MI brought two agates into the museum. The agates were found in the Keweenaw. As many of you know, when people bring specimens into the museum that are Lake Superior agates – I ring a bell. Mark and Brandon enjoyed hearing the bell ring.

On August 5th Julie Scheer from DePere, WI brought the agate shown below into the Gitche Gumee. I took photos of the different sides to show what this raw agate looked like on the beach.

The middle of August brought Dick Boyer into the museum. He found this very unusual 4-ounce amethyst seam agate.

The next day on August 15th Jesse Chickening from Mears, MI came up to the Grand Marais shoreline to agate hunt by himself. He usually comes with his family, but this time he wanted to maximize his effort. That he did. In five days he agate hunting along 20 miles of shoreline east of Grand Marais. I did not get a chance to take photos of all his agates. He found one of the best large quartz balls I have ever seen. It was five pounds and more intricate and interesting than most quartz balls. He also found a very interesting seven-ounce agate with beautiful crystal impressions. There are two photos of this agate below, including one showing the crystal impressions. I was only the third person to see this agate. The photos do not show the beauty of this specimen. The first two people who saw it offered Jesse $1,000 on the spot. In total I estimate he found $3,000-$4,000 worth of agates during his week of searching. I have also included a few photos of the South Dakota agates he found earlier this year. He met a guy in South Dakota who took him out to special spots. Jesse is going to return the favor and sponsor his new friend on the Lake Superior shoreline.

When I was out and about one day, an agate hunter shared the specimen shown below. The person declined to be photographed.

A museum visitor shared the cut agate below. I believe it could be a Mexican agate.

One of my friends, Claudia, who stays in Woodland Park most of the summer, was out Syenite hunting before she and her husband left for the season. With her 365-wavelength light, the specimen below glowed pink. She was surprised when she arrived back at their RV that the pebble is a polished dyed agate. Some kids most likely dropped the rock on the beach.

During the inaugural Grand Marais Rock-On Festival, an agate collector shared this incredibly large Lake Superior agate with me. I cannot remember what it weighs, but it is big! The agate is from the Keweenaw and was found decades ago.

Customer Agate Finds December 2018

It was a good year agate hunting in the Grand Marais area this past season.  As some of you know, my theory about how most rocks reach the Grand Marais beach is due to shelf ice that breaks off shorelines all around Lake Superior with a change of wind direction and float around the lake during the winter.  Shelf ice forms early winter on top of rock piles and incorporate some of the pebbles into the bottom of the shelf ice.  In the spring, we get predominant northwest winds that blow the floating ice to the southeast shoreline, including the Grand Marais area.  Some years we have little to no ice floating on the big lake.  This past spring, though, there was A LOT of floating ice.  When the icebergs get blown up onto shore for the last time, they melt and dump their rocks.  So, this year there were more rocks on the beach than we have seen in many years.

When someone comes into the museum with an agate find, I sometimes ask permission to include photos on these web page updates.  If the customers say yes, I have them write their chosen personal information on the back of a business card.  I then date the card (to correspond with the date of the photos) and keep the cards until the next web page update.  During the craziness of the summer, sometimes I misplace some of these cards.   That is the case for this first set of photos.  Not only did the customer bring in some killer Lake Superior agates, but he also had a collection of meteorites, including one that fell in the last year or so in Hamburg, MI.  Many of the meteorites were picked up less than a half mile from where I lived prior to moving to Grand Marais.  If you are the person who showed me the meteorites and these agates, can you please email me at karen@agatelady.com to give me your name (first name is OK).  I will then update this paragraph.

First, the meteorites……

Second, his agates……

On September 2nd, sixteen-year-old, Anna, from Alma, MI came into the museum with this awesome water-washed 8.4-ounce Lake Superior agate found in the Grand Marais area.  Anna was shy and did not want to be photographed.

On August 30th, Elias from Au Train, MI visited the Gitche Gumee Museum to show off this colorful Lake Superior agate.

Late summer the Evoy family displayed some of their agates.  This included Steve, Jade, and Lily – from Wolverine, MI.  They found several beautiful gems!

Nina Nyman, from Grand Marais, also did not want to be photographed.  But she was happy to show off her agates, including an 8.4 ouncer!

Another photo shy person, Karen Shreve, from Livonia, MI showed me her large, beautifully banded Laker on August 31st.  What incredible banding this agate has!

During the third week of August Brian and Keola Trudell, from Escanaba, MI, came into the museum with their find.  Keola found one of the few Lake Superior sagenite agates I saw all summer.

One of the better agates brought into the museum this summer was a 7.4 ouncer, found by Erin Vlietstra.  She is pictured with Mark.  They are from Kalamazoo, MI.

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.