Wallace Stone Quarry
Bay Port, Michigan
August 13, 2009
Report by Jim Adams
(jdljha@earthlink.net)

 

I first learned about the Wallace Stone Quarry from fellow Flint club member Bill Wendling. Bill had met plant manager Ralph Bronson by accident one day. Ralph was wearing a shirt with the quarry name on it which caught Billís attention and they struck up a conversation.

Located southeast of Bay Port, on Saginaw Bay, this quarry is known by and friendly to schools, clubs, and rockhounds in the southeast Michigan region. This is a very active working quarry where collectors are allowed in by prior arrangement only. The address is 8785 Ribble Ln., Bay Port, Michigan. The phone number to the quarry office is 989-656-2831.

I convinced Bill to call and set up a collecting time, and on August 13th at 8:00am we were making the hour and a half drive up into Michiganís Ďthumb'. This was my first my time collecting in a quarry that was actually in operation at the time. While waiting for Ralph in the office we watched as trucks loaded with limestone products drove up on the big scale; the girl behind the desk read out the truckís weight and okíd the driver to leave. Ralph showed up followed by his son-in-law Ron, and they basically gave Bill and I a personal tour of the whole quarry. One of the things I had heard that you can find there is small geodes with Millerite crystals inside. This was the first pit they took us to. After seeing that location Ralph and Ron took us to the west side across the street to show us where hey had uncovered glacial groove marks on the limestone bedrock. I got a couple of pictures and found some pieces of limestone in the nearby piles with the grooves to take home.

 

After that Ralph went back to work and Ron took us above the Ďcommon faceí along the north side. This is where crews are currently working, but we were lucky that day. We were told that at noon that area would be shut down, so we would get a chance to check out a recently uncovered section of rock. By this time it was almost noon already. Ron had left us to our collecting and soon all the work vehicles left the area. About that time we noticed a small school bus load of kids and teachers walking along the rock face apparently looking for fossils. We looked over the newly worked section but didnít find much besides small bits of pyrite. After looking over the common face we decided to go back across the road were we had seen some small vugs of brown calcite crystals. Ralph must have locked the gates back up in the mean time, so we parked at the closed gate and hiked our gear across the road. I found the best small vug of nice little cubic calcite, but the rock was too big and needed cobbing down for transport. The vug was towards the center of one edge, and I joked to Bill,Ē Watch, itíll split right down the middle of the vug,Ē and you can guess what happened, yep, right down the middle of the vug. Not intending to glue them back together, I kept the better half.

While I was working on that, Bill picked up a chunk of limestone with a good showing of Rugose coral on one side. That got me back to looking and soon I found my own specimen of fossilized Rugose coral.

After this we decided to move back to the first pit and try to find some Millerite.

The Millerite at this quarry is found in small hollow chert balls. After we had been looking around a few minutes Ron showed up and started looking with us. At this location I found the best Pyrite of the day; small but intact cubic crystals.

I also found a small vug of the brown calcite with a little solitary quartz point.

I learned that you had to break a lot of chert balls to find one with Millerite, and it seemed to me at the time to be a bad idea to just break them on the spot, so I collected a few and brought them home to try and break carefully. Well quantity seems to be the answer in finding the good ones and I just didnít bring home enough to break. None of my chert balls were hollow, so Iíll have to plan a return trip and concentrate on that area a little more.

After a while we decided to check out the opposite face in the same pit where we had been told Millerite was found in the past, and as Bill walked ahead of me he made the best find of the day. It was a big limestone plate covered in Rugose coral. It was big enough that he needed my help getting it in the back of the van. After that we didnít find too much and the mid day heat finally drove us out of the pit.

We stopped back at the office and thanked Ralph for letting us collect. He gave us a few souvenirs including pencils with the quarry logo and told us a little about the history of the place. He said the area had been a quarry since the time of the Civil War. Bill took my picture near the engraved rock out front and we were on our way back to Clio.

Once we got back to the club lapidary class where we met up in the morning, I helped him transfer the big coral plate into his truck.

Despite the high temperatures in the quarry, this was a fantastic collecting experience and Iíll definitely have to go back before long. Thanks to Bill Wendling for setting this trip up, and Ralph and Ron for showing us such a good time.


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