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Lake Superior Agates
Posted by Ryan B.
Ryan B. April 28, 2007 03:01PMHey everyone,
I'm looking for places to go hunting for Lake Superior Agates and people who might like to collect agates with me. I am located in Prescott, WI, just east of the Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN metro area. I have found a few sites in the area but I am looking for something new and someone to share my enthusiasm.
Ray Hill April 28, 2007 10:10PMI have heard of a number of glacial gravel pits yielding some nice Superior agates, but the best I have heard of in recent years have come from scuba collecting the near shore lake bottom in gravelly shore areas. It also is sparse but not as many collectors doing this method, so may yield offshore "gold" in areas whose shores were previously known as good collection areas.
CaptPaul April 29, 2007 03:27AMI'm originally from the UP of Michigan so LS Agates were literally in my backyard. Anyways, practically anywhere there is rock along the Lake Superior shoreline you have a chance of finding agates. However, the best places are where you can find a fissure jutting out into the Lake, especially in the Keweenaw Peninsula. Another popular method is to find a basalt flowtop that has weathered as well. I know the guy that collects agates offshore and he has recovered some spectacular specimens, again, from where a fissure or flowtop exposes itself on the lake bottom. There are also a few gravel pits in the Duluth area that have yielded some nice agates as well.
Good luck in your hunt for the elusive Lake Superior agate.......
Sieg May 04, 2007 01:21AMMelody N Wrote:
> I am from Bay City,WI and have a few pretty good
> agate spots I would be interested in sharing w/
> you.Perhaps we could check them out
> sometime.E-mail me if you would be interested.
I would love to take a trip to Lake Superior in a couple weeks. I already took some time off, but I've never traveled alone before and have no idea where to look. ANY suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I live in Owatonna, MN and have wanted to venture up there for several years now.
DI66ER May 05, 2007 05:10PMHi, Your best bet for picking up Lake Superior agates are at gravel mines and in farm fields. I do very well near Moose Lake Minnesota, and in the Twin Cities area. Unfortunately very few "Lakers" are found on the shores Lake Superior in Minnesota.
Fine quality painted eye agates are being mined in Michigan at this time they are just beautiful! If you are interested I know a guy who is selling a guide service to several Michigan gem locations.
A trip the the shores of Lake Superior in MN should include a stop at the several rock shops on hwy 61, at Two Harbors, Beaver Bay and up in Grand Marias. Thunder Bay amethyst can be dug at the fee mines just a couple hours North of the US border ... too much fun~! You may be able to find some fine thomsonite specimens on your trip as well. Happy Picking :O)
"so many locations ... so little time"
Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 05/05/2007 05:44PM by DI66ER.
Guy Florek May 09, 2007 12:45AMI grew up in Silver Bay MN about 22 yrs ago and found alot of agates around that area in the creekes and streams. I have found some "Lakers" and copper in matrix last summer along Hwy 61 just outside of Silver Bay when they were doing road construction on that section of highway. Try and locate old/new gravel pits and get permission. There is some houseing construction going just east of town so look were they cleared the land and added fill( if you don't mind your shoes turning red from the iron oxide in the clay soil mix) Also check at the Agate shop in Beaver Bay they might be able to help with some places. Also there are a few old pits in Finland MN that have some agates,epidote(micro not real gemmy) and thompsnite(fragile) in them. If you have any questions send me an email.
DI66ER May 09, 2007 01:27PMWe dug amethyst at the Blue Points Mine which is NW of Thunder Bay just off hwy 61. We watched one digger working at removing a specimen of around 600 pounds! We managed to dig quite a few small druzy crystal plates (jewelery size) some are included with iron oxides in a way that gives them a color of pink ... very striking!
AJE May 10, 2007 02:19PMHello, my family would like to go collecting up in MN in Dulth Area for Lake Superiors Agates. We did it about 9 years ago, but since then I have heard a law has passed for the safety of the rockhound and for the property owners. Does anyone know what this law is called which we must take prior to setting foot in quarries? How long the course takes and the cost to go through this program? Does anyone have any suggestions on contacts? Would like to head to MN in late July or August 2007. I'm from Appleton WI area.
L Bowen January 19, 2008 01:05AMHi,
I was just doing a search on WI agate collecting as we're planning a trip to visit family in north-central WI this summer. I'm trying to get one day of Lake Superior agate hunting in while we're there. Did you find a good locatoin? FInd any agates? If so, do you mind sharing? Thanks so much!
Diane R. Tjepkes January 20, 2008 03:01AMNew Years Day the Travel channel had several hours of Cash and Treasure. One of the shows was about Lake Superior agate. If you look up the website for the Travel Channel you can check on what day and what time the Cash and Treasure shows are and they will list the places they will be visiting. Usually they repeat these shows often enough that you should be able to catch the ones that interest you.
ambergemstone1978 January 20, 2008 02:55PMLiesa Bowen Wrote:
> That looks cool, as does the annual agate days
> event in Moose Lake MN. Unfortunately we'll be in
> the area earlier, in late May.
> ANyone have experience with the Carlton county
> gravel dump piles accessable with permission?
My family will be attending the agate days this year as well as doing rockhounding of this region. in order to enter any quarry in MN you need to take a course as well as have permission.
John Truax January 20, 2008 04:59PMHere in Minnesota most of our gravel mines are posted "no trespassing" the large corporate owners are in no way interested in our desire to collect. The few pits that let me in are locally owned by real live people. There are always good locations to find agates really, they are here in their millions.
Good Luck Agate Finding!
Joyce March 21, 2008 02:33PMMy husband and I will be moving to MN soon and are interested in looking for agates. Your msg indicated a "course" might be necessary. We are beginners in this hobby and would be very interested in taking a course. Do you have any information about the course (where we can check)? Thanks!
Aaron March 23, 2008 10:44PMHello, I am very interested in collecting Lake Superior Agates. I have been given many of them including eye and tube agates from the Lake Superior volcanic eruptions. I will have to agree with you DIGGER, "So many locations, So little time." I have been collecting rocks and gems ever since I was 5 years old and I am now 24. I am currently going into the jewelry/gemmology field this April but I just wish I could get the time to get out and go on an adventure. Anyway... Has anyone read the book, "The Lake Suerior Agate, by: Scott Wolter?" It's a wonderful book, although I am not sure whether the detailed localities of where to find them are still valid today. I would love to get a bunch of people who LOVE rocks to come with me and find some spactacular specimens. Anyone intrested in going, oh lets say this summer? I also had another question, please forgive me for talking too much. Is the ESWING tools for digging the best, or is other tools that you'd find in a regular harware store also cundusive to rockhounding? Believe me I think that ESWING would be better for the fact that they are manufactured for that pupose but couldn't there be some tools that would be found in a hardware store be o.k. too?
ROGER KEHRET April 06, 2008 06:13PMHi
I am interested in collecting some agates this spring and would like to have some company if you are interested. I have no experience in agate collecting in the northern part of the state but would like to get started. I am from and also now live in Austin, mn but have lived in Arkansas for 5 years. Lots of quartz crystal , calcite crystal and smithsonite collecting there.If you send me your email address I will link you to my Hi5 , stumble on and flickr sites and you can see some of my minerals, old radios and cave photos.
Pamela Havermans April 09, 2008 10:05PMI have collected many agates from the Keeneenaw Peninsula. A favorite place of mine is the Great Sand Bay; a misnomer, since the "beach" consists of 30 - 50' of rocks. Take US 41 N from Houghton until you get to Ameek. Take a left on the main road going to the left (will take you to Lake Superior) this road eventually turns into M 26. You will be able to stay on this road all the way to the end of the peninsula. There are many, many places to pull off and pick rocks.
On the way back, take US 41 through the center ofthe peninsula. There are many abandoned mine dumps that are interesting to pick through. I can let you know more info if you want.
Pamela Havermans April 29, 2008 11:51PMErica,
I've never hunted in WI; but I would think anywhere in WI along the Lake Superior shoreline would be good. MI rock collecting is good along the entire Lake Superior shoreline. I would email CaptPaul on this thread as he seems knowledgeable about the area. Good luck; let us know what you find!
Paul Brandes April 30, 2008 02:25AMActually, not everywhere in WI would be good. You would have to see where the Rift comes on-land and goes through WI. Anything east of Ashland along the shore is ok, but better the closer to the MI border. You may also want to search the farm fields in WI for agates near the rift. Of course, always get permission to enter a farmer's field, but usually most will ablige and even be happy for someone to pick rocks out of their field........
Janice Palmer May 11, 2008 06:02AMAm going to be up North for a couple of weeks this summer. Last year I camped at Gooseberry Falls, and was with out luck in finding any agates. This year am camping in the Upper Pennisula right along the Lk Superior shore. Any tips on hunting in this area. Also, does anyone know if land outside just East of White Bear Lake might be a good place to look? My mother in law's house is on a small spring fed pond, and it's very rocky along the edge. Thanks!!!
Amy Thomas May 16, 2008 08:33PMHi all,
I live in St. Paul and am also very interested in collecting LS agates this summer, hopefully both from local sites and up north. I haven't done this a lot, but have done a lot of research, including contacting the DNR for a list of gravel pits. I also have a friend up by Mille Lacs who is an agate dealer. It sounds like lots of people are interested, so contact me; let's get a group together and go hunting!
Hope to meet you soon,
Paul Brandes May 22, 2008 01:21AMNikhil, I posted a message to your question with suggestions on your other page.
Janice, depending on where your camping along Lake Superior you can find some good agates. In the UP, the best places are along the west and north shores of the Keweenaw, the Porcupine Mtns., and near Grand Marais, MI. There are other places as well, but are too hard to get to without proper gear and knowledge of the local trails. Of course, if your in the Keweenaw, your bound to find copper; it's almost impossible not to........
Good luck to both of you!!
Janice May 28, 2008 01:11AMThank you for your post Paul. Actually, will be camping in the Porcupine Mountains, so I was thrilled to read what you wrote. I have a few agates I purchased off of Ebay, so I can show my kids, so they will know what they're looking for. Copper would be awesome to find, from a genealogical standpoint. My husband's great grandfather immigrated to the UP from Finland, and worked the coppermines, near Houghton. Thanks for the info! Jan
Paul Brandes May 31, 2008 03:09AMNot a problem!!! The Porcupines are an absolute beautiful place in the UP. If you can make it down to a beach with rocks, you should be able to find an agate. I would ask which mine near Houghton your great-grandfather worked in, but there are so many in the area it would be impossible to probably remember.
Bill Boehm June 08, 2008 12:30PMHi: I was in Grand Marais,Mi. last June and the flies (look just like common house flies) were terrible. They were in swarms and actually took chunks of meat from my body. Are they out all summer, or is there a time period when I can go there and not encounter them? I walked on the shore and picked up lots of beautiful rocks ( think a few might be agates?). I love being around the lake shore and camping out. I live in Indiana so it is quite a distance to travel and I don't always have the time to go there. Any information about the flies would be greatly appreciated. Thank you, Bill
Andrea62574 September 26, 2008 07:24PMHi,
Does anyone know if lake superior thomsonite is more valuable when still imbeded in its matrix or once its removed? I have some large football sized pieces I bought at a garage sale that have thomsonite peeking out of them. Should I try to break it apart and remove it, or is it worth more as it is?
Any info would be appreciated, I'm pretty new to rock collecting!
Chris R. MN May 31, 2009 03:25AMI live 25 min west of Hinkley MN and my family and I are very sure that we found a 95 to 100 lbs Lake Superior Agate. We are trying to find someone that will look at it for us and also be honest about the rock. If you would happen to know someone that would be close by or be able to recommend someone we would be very grateful. We have run into one dead end after another and just happened across your posting on Mindat.org. Any info you could give would be great. Thanks. Chris R.
Paul Brandes May 31, 2009 10:20PMChris,
My first suggestion to you might be to contact a local rock/mineral club or college geology department in your area and take it to them for identification. Another idea is to take a photo of your specimen and post it to our Identity Help forum (http://www.mindat.org/msgboard-11.html). We have a lot of people that are very knowledgeable in identifying specimens from photos and also quite a number of folks from the Great Lakes area (myself included) that might be able to identify it as well.....
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/31/2009 10:22PM by Paul Brandes.
David Von Bargen May 31, 2009 11:30PMWell, you could go up to Moose Lake during Agate days or the state park up there (might want to phone ahead to make sure that someone would be there to help you).
John Oostenryk June 01, 2009 12:32AMHello Chris R.,
Easy answer and hopefully solution for you!
I am hoping you have found a giant agate! That size would be an amazing find! I am in NW IL and have been hunting them for 35 years. It is good hunting here on the 'ol Mississippi River. I have buckets of them of all sizes but not THAT big. It is too far south for them to survive size-wise from the pounding they receive in the glacier/river transport.
Here's what you do:
Hose it off with the garden hose and scrub it with a scrub brush so it is clean.
Put it outside (preferably in the sun) and take pictures of the different sides WHILE WET.
Put a ruler or tape measure beside it for size reference in the pictures.
Just make sure your pics are clear and clean. Blurry will do no good!
Post a couple of the pics to me at email@example.com
I am confident I can verify for you whether it is an actual agate or a different type of stone. I am very familiar with what shows up in the MN--WI--IA--IL river aggregates.
If posting the pic to my email is easier, then I'm glad to help out.
Scott Sadlocha June 19, 2009 02:15PMI have heard that the beaches in Luce County, MI are a great spot for Lake Superior Agates. The area right around Muskallonge Lake is known to have some good samples, as well as down near the mouth of the Two-Hearted River, east of Muskallonge Lake. I am heading there in a few weeks time, and I am hoping to find some while I am there. I will post after I return.
Max Action July 24, 2009 04:42AMHowdy - I found this "small potato sized" agate in western Wisc not far from Stillwater ... anyone see one with this kind of orange, opaque, and messy banding? I've seen a lot of Lake Superior agates, but never one that looked quite like this:
Mark & Linda Mahlum October 23, 2009 04:08PMI grew up on a farm near Canby, Mn. on the South Dakota state line,100 or so miles north of Sioux Falls. A moraine ran through our farm and it was so rocky that we used a 16 tine "silage" fork to "pick" them. Hundreds of tons. At the time, I didn't know that this was a moraine and believe me, I hated rocks when I was a kid. Is it possible we threw Lake Superior agate in the rock pile or were we too far west for that occurrence?
Max Action October 29, 2009 06:41PMThis was found by a friend of a friend ... who photographed it ... and LEFT IT THERE.
Yes, that is a boot for scale.
James Johnson May 21, 2010 06:43AMI`m a rockhound, fine art photographer, and firefighter near St Louis and love Lake Superior Agates...would love to make a trip up there to look for some but would prefer to drive up in the fall as its my favorite time of the year and I have heard it gets quite pretty up there with the foliage.
have read with interest on places to go and look for the agates...can anyone tell me the best time to drive up there to find the foliage in bloom ?
all information much appreciated.
St Louis area
John Truax May 22, 2010 06:37AMHi James,
On most of the Twin Cities news websites you will find "fall colors" maps, each autumn season. Google is your friend!
Here is a map of typical peak color dates: http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/fall_colors/typical_peak.html
Agate picking is quite rich in the Moose Lake area, several gravel mines still allow collecting, rocky logging and quad trails can be productive as well.
Good Luck Picking~!
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/22/2010 06:40AM by John Truax.
Paul Brandes May 22, 2010 08:14PMJames,
It really depends on where you'll be traveling to this fall. If your heading to the Arrowhead of Minnesota, figure about late September. If your in northern Wisconsin or Upper Michigan, usually the first part of October; however, these are only averages. The weather can really play tricks on the exact timing of the best foliage. As John mentioned, check the local Natural Resources department for the state you are visiting, and also either NOAA or the NWS as they put out a foliage forcast that is updated frequently during the Fall season.
In my opinion, the Great Lakes region can't be beat for colours in the Fall.....
James Johnson May 23, 2010 12:02AMThanks guys, appreciate the information, will look those sites up, sounds like good time to take another vacation by then..we had a great fall down here for colors last year and Arkansas in November last year was phenomenal as well...I have also been out to Colorado a few years in the fall and its beautiful out there too...
my blog site contains alot of photos of my trips and rockhounding adventures as well :
Just got back from taking the Tulsa Club to some nice druse locations today...
Dave Miller January 25, 2012 09:32PMHey Ryan,
Me and my g/f went rock hounding last summer around Grand maris and found some nice agates. Best time I guess is in the spring. My g/f and I are planning on having friends come with us going up to the kewana area to look for more good spots + look for stuff with some metal detectors in some abandoned mine areas. Maybe if your interested give me an email back. Its hard finding people that are rock hounds. Thanks and hope this helps a little bit
Paul Brandes January 25, 2012 10:52PMDave,
I'm assuming "kewana" is the Keweenaw Peninsula of Upper Michigan, also known as the Copper Country? If so, there are many places to search for minerals and I can give you some pointers if you'd like. Just shoot me a private message or visit the Mineral Chatroom sometime.....
Anonymous User March 07, 2012 12:22PMThe best people to ask about which gravel pits are open for collecting agates would be Bob and Nancy Lynch at Agate City Shop in Two Harbors, MN. Nearly all of the gravel pits have posted signs and do not allow collecting anymore. If you stop at the Chamber of Commerce building in Moose Lake, MN (an old train station on the edge of town) they can provide a map and permission for you to collect in several nearby pits that are no longer actively working. There is also a small, but very good mineral museum showing Lake Superior agates and other minerals that form in the basalt vesicles of that region near Moose Lake. It's in the visitor's center at a state park (to my recollection).
Pieces of agates and very small ones can be found along the shoulders of gravel roads anywhere near Carlton, Moose Lake, and nearby areas, since the gravel came from the nearby sand & gravel operators in that area.
The beaches of the Keweenaw yield very small agates, and they can be more easily found by waiting until late afternoon or evening, wearing a hat with a brim and walking toward the sun. The agates show up more easily since most of them are translucent. A lot of the beaches east of Grand Marais, Michigan, are not collected from as much as here, and do yield good agates, but those found there were most likely transported by the glaciers since the area has no basaltic rocks.
Rhonda February 12, 2013 05:29AMI will be in the Duluth, Eli, Thunder Bay and Bayfield areas this July and would like to know where we can collect nice Agate (legally). I would appreciate help that is specific in nature (so we don't get lost as I am from San Diego).
Paul Brandes February 13, 2013 02:43AMRhonda,
The best people to contact might be the Lynch's at Agate City Rocks & Gifts in Two Harbors, MN for more information about agates in the area. Also, many of the gravel pits in the Minnesota area have agates in them, but permission must be obtained before entering any of them, including the abandoned ones. For those, you may want to contact a local rock club for accessibility or contact the Moose Lake Area Chamber of Commerce in Moose Lake, MN.
Good luck! (tu)
Bill Cordua February 13, 2013 04:09AMRyan,
Another way to get in touch with people and find local spots to hunt is to join a local rock club. There is a club, the St. Croix Rockhounds, quite near you in Stillwater Minnesota. There are also clubs in Minneapolis-St. Paul, notably the Minnesota Mineral Club and the Anoka County Gem and Mineral Club. All welcome new members or guest, have interesting programs and go on field trips.
John Truax February 14, 2013 03:54PMThe Moose Lake (Minnesota) Agate Days Celebration will be held July 13 &14 this year.
It is the best annual rock show in our area. Hope you can make it Rhonda.
As Paul recommended a trip to Agate City in Two Harbors is a must see on a trip up Hwy 61,
and the Beaver Bay Rock Shop as well.
Lake Superior agates can be found in about any rock pile in Minnesota ... farm fields, logging roads etc...
Anonymous User February 14, 2013 05:38PMWe've been over to Minnesota to look for agates many times. Most of the better sand & gravel pits are now posted and off-limits, which is discouraging. However, some of the pits will allow searching for agates in areas that they are no longer actively working. Omar's is one of them, unless they have changed their policy - it's just south of Carleton, MN. At Moose Lake, you can go to the old train station, which holds the Chamber of Commerce, and they will provide a map to some of the local gravel pits that are accessible, but no longer active. You can still find agates and pieces of agates along the gravel shoulders of secondary roads - walk towards the sun with a brimmed hat when the sun is lower in the mornings and afternoons and the agates will show up a lot easier. A young fellow found a 12-pound agate near the tip of the Keweenaw peninsula 2 years ago, which is now on display at the Seaman Mineral Museum. Don't give up hope on finding agates - there are many still out there waiting to be found.
li March 17, 2013 08:26AMWHY! HOW! ... would someone leave that?!?!!, short of life threatening situation?? i'd find a way to sledge it outta there. or i'd rig a drag or hire antelope or something..certainly my suppressed super human strength would make easy work of it!! i wish ) ;
Matt Neuzil February 04, 2014 04:24AMPaul Brandes Wrote:
When i was at field camp some students helped "rescue" a piece of BIF from shores of a wyoming lake. I don't know how much it weighed but I think six people had to help load it onto a piece of cattle grate or fence and then carry it quite a distance to the car. It made for an interesting recovery to say the least :)
No need to break nice pieces when they can easily be removed with man power.
A buena hambre no hay pan duro
Susan Robinson February 04, 2014 11:58AMThe last time we were in Minnesota collecting agates was several years ago, and most of the gravel pits near Carlton and Duluth are posted with no agate collecting allowed. You could get into Omar's pit, just south of Carlton, but could any search for agates in an old pit where they were not working with machinery. It is the same situation with the gravel pits near Moose Lake, MN, however, the Chamber of Commerce has its office in the old train station there. They provide a map to the local inactive gravel pits, where you can search for agates. You can also find agate pieces and very small agates along the shoulders of dirt roads in that area, too. During the Agate Days Show in Moose Lake, I think they open one of the local gravel pits for collecting. The last time we drove by it during the show, it reminded me of ants on an ant hill - pretty crowded with collectors. Agate City shop in Two Harbors has some fabulous specimens of agates, and the A. E. Seaman Mineral Museum in Houghton, MI, has a large display of agates from both Minnesota and Michigan, including the copper-banded agates found in the Keweenaw at a few mine dumps.
Kirstie Fournier August 27, 2014 09:15PMHi there anyone…
I live near Hessel, MI, and and have traveled to Lake Superior at the Lake Superior Agate Museum in Gitchi Gume…someone has said there are lake superior agates in Michigan. Could anyone let me know where to go and who to ask? I am a rock hound from Oregon and a member of the Mount Hood Rock Club in Gresham, Oregon.
I would also like to follow up with some tips as to where to go in Minnesota to get legal access to some of the closed quarries.
Please let me know soon, as I will be leaving Hessel, MI in a couple of days.
Thanks so much in advance.
Paul Brandes August 28, 2014 02:05AMKirstie,
There are indeed agates in Michigan, you just need to know where to look. If you review the posts in this thread, that should be all the info you'll need to get started. The northwest beaches of the Keweenaw and around Grand Marais are good places to go. You likely won't find anything like the Minnesota pieces size-wise, but they are there.
D Mike Reinke June 22, 2015 04:21AMJacob,
I have no 'place' to recommend, but I found one in Iowa just looking through the decorative gravel at a gas station in quad cities. Lots of dredging of the river, could turn up almost anything. I only found one at a casual glace, so whether that was the only one around or not, I can't say. But I suspect it was quite a fluke. So if you are not after real quantity, I'd say just keep your eyes open, and enjoy the 'exploration.'
Al Bayne August 15, 2015 08:08PMI am looking for someone who would like to trade Lake Superior Agates for Manitoba Agates. Our agates look considerably different than the Lake Superior ones. Ours are translucent and are different shades of Amber, although we sometimes find a completely clear one. Sometimes a stone will be a mix of jasper and agate, or agate, jasper, and petrified wood. Sizes I have found over the years range from fist-size down to small beads. If interested contact me and I can provide more info, and pictures.
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Copyright © mindat.org and the Hudson Institute of Mineralogy 1993-2018, except where stated. Mindat.org relies on the contributions of thousands of members and supporters.