Not much remains of Grindstone City

September 19, 2007


grindstone03.JPG, photo by smartee_martee.

Marty Hogan writes:

One of the few remaining grindstones on the beach. This one is about 3.5 feet in diameter. The beach used to be covered in the old Grindstones; from 1.5 feet to six feet in diameter. Bad, bad thieves plundered them all away.

This photo is part of Marty’s great Huron County, Michigan photo set (slideshow)

I went looking for a photo and details on Grindstone City so I could feature a site I found the other day, but there was little to be found from’s page on Grindstone City or the Port Austin Chamber.

UPDATE: March 2012: The best resource I found at the time of this post was, which featured piles and piles of photos and information about Michigan and its history. Among their were some postcards and old photos from Grindstone City, from which I learned that Grindstone City had a quarry and stone mill and made and shipped a whole lot of grindstones. Nothing at seemed to have been updated, and it felt like going up to an attic in an abandoned farm and poking through partially labeled boxes. Sadly the digital room has since fallen in, leaving nothing.

Fortunately, there are other resources, so check out today’s post Truing up a 3 ton stone in Grindstone City.

If you have anything to share about Grindstone City, post it in the comments!

64 Responses to “Not much remains of Grindstone City”

  1. Betsy Says:

    Once upon a time, long ago… mid 70’s mid 80’s I spent quite some time in and around Grindstone City… and there were literally tons of grindstones lying around.
    During the ’70’s there was also an independent press in the little “downtown” brick building. A couple, Ann (?) and her husband, ran it and printed work by Michigan poets and artists and other revolutionaries. I believe it was called Grindstone Press and that may be wrong. I have some of their work in my paper “archives.”

    Does anyone else remember the press? A lot of Detroit artists knew Ann and her family and her work was well-known in the Detroit arts community.

    • Scott Says:

      There names were the mickolowski’s…they had a daughter named Molly..that I knew very well. I am sure I spelled there last name wrong. Ann passed away from cancer a few years ago

  2. JoAnn Russell (Ignash) Says:

    My dad was born in Port Austin and my grandfather worked in Grindstone City as a lumberjack, (not a quarry worker). I lived in a home my dad built in Grindstone City in the 80’s, then sold it and had to move on. My dad’s brother, my uncle Harry, had a cabin on the lake right around the corner from that home, and I spent many childhood days up there on the lake.

    I have many photos and lots of memories of Grindstone City. I did know Ann, mentioned in the post above, and my daughter and her daughter were good friends.

    I would love to share if anyone is interested. I can be contacted at


  3. Marty Hogan Says:

    Ken and Ann Mikolowski ran the Alternative Press out of Grindstone City. The Alternative Press started out in the 60’s on Detroit’s Cass corridor. Ann excelled at pointalism, miniatures, and paintings of Lake Huron. I knew Ann from when she did work with us students at the old Port Austin library building (since been torn down). Ken is a poet. He is still at U of M doing the poet “thing”. I am sad to say, Ann has passed.

    To see some of Ann’s work:

    Marty Hogan

  4. Arleigh J. Carpenter Says:

    I’m looking for those old fashion postcards that show the Grindstones and the Workers. My grandfather Abner Carpenter is shown in several (the guy with the floppy hat) He later went on to be in charge of Concrete Pouring on Boulder (Hoover) Dam. My Father Charles I. Carpenter was in the Coast Guard all around Mi. He was born in Bad Axe (1912)and his Grandfather did all the Blacksmithing required by the Grindstone Mfg. If you have any info please contact me:

  5. Bill Brink Says:

    My great, great uncle was the Capt. Peer whose name appears on the top of this building. He was a founder of Grindstone City.
    The Capt. sailed all over the world and my family owns a coral neckless that he brought back from his travels in the orient. We also have a tin-type picture of him. He looks like Gregory Peck as Capt. Ahab in the movie Moby Dick.
    Capt Peer loved to sail in the Great Lakes and one November a whitecap crashed over his ship taking him overboard. His body was found on one of the islands the following spring.
    I’ve not been to the area in over a half century but I do remember the pier there was made of discarded and broken grindstones. They were everywhere. I can’t belive they’re gone

    • Johanna Schurrer Says:

      Hello Bill,
      I would be very interested to hear more about your Great Great Grandfather Capt. Peer. I am a summer resident of Whalens Grindstone Shore Inc. We are a Trailor Park right on the area where the industry took place, the cove the was created by the long arms that jutted out into lake Huron for the rail tracks, is where we are located.
      My self and two other woman in the park have created a Historical site on the camp grounds, we have some of the machinery and lots of pictures, showing the quarrys and the work being done in them.
      We have gathered as much information as we could about Capt Peer, but alas, not a lot.
      If you could possibly be able to give us some more information on him, it would be really apreicated. Hope to hear from you Johanna

      • Jerry Crow Says:

        Bought these in Huron, Ohio at a photo show. Paid $25 for these 3, unused postcards. Do you have more you could scan and share , with me… Jerry (sorry, guess I can’t scan and send photos here-if you send your e-mail will send these 3 nice views). JLC

    • Joe C. Says:

      FYI, I was just up there this past Saturday, and stumbled across the building with your great-grandfather’s name on it. Not only is it still there, it’s for sale. I’ve got the wife thinking about it… It’s a really neat old building!!

  6. farlane Says:

    Thanks for sharing Bill – that’s some very interesting stuff!

  7. I was born and raised near Port Hope and have a group of photos that I took in the 70s of Grindstone City and of Ken and Ann Mikolowski. I also took quite a few pictures of the grindstones lying around. Are they still there? I am putting a photo book together of the area that I took during that time which I hope to have finished by this fall. Do you think there would be much interest in that in the area? I live in Albuquerque New Mexico now.

    • Mary Lynn Says:

      Looking for any information on grindstone city particular from 1838-present about cause of death, population, general history shipping records of grindstones to where if you can help any info will be appreciated.

    • Anne Says:

      I would love to see your pics. Ken and Ann mikolowski used to live in the building we are now restoring and we have no pics of them or the building except for one.

  8. dominic Says:

    i have property in grindstone city that was handed down from my parents its a beautiful peaceful area

  9. Mary Zolinski Says:

    I found your blog and read a few of the posts. Keep up the good work. I am looking forward to checking out more from you in the future.

  10. mike Says:

    hey man, very cool website.

    awesome replies too.

  11. Brian Says:

    I stayed in Grindstone back in the early 90’s at a place near the marina where you could rent rooms. I can’t remember what it was called, but I do remember it was completely done up in a thin, creaky pine board. I think the rooms were only $15 a night. Does this ring a bell with anyone?

    I also remember the ice cream place. We walked down a country road, in the dark, for what seemed like forever and finally there was this lone general store that sold ice cream and it was packed with people.

  12. Mary D Says:

    We were at the Grindstone General Store tonight getting their much-lauded giant helpings of ice cream (although a gas station just north of Marlette proved to have much bigger helpings!). At Grindstone, a ‘double’ has 4 scoops! They had tons of local artwork, ceramic, photography, cookbooks, history books and mini grindstones for sale (as a grindstone or a door stopper that I fancied may be a good heel stone) and loads of antique ice cream sundae glasses and scoops on display. The boys working there were friendly and funny. Worth the drive and easy to find! They only take cash and checks.

    • christopher mullen Says:

      my grand parents used to live next door to the general store. i used to spend my summers as a kid there in grindstone. and sadly my grandparents both passed away a couple years ago and i havent been there since

      • Durwin R Says:

        Is your Grandmas name was Blanche (Bobbie)& Grand pa BJ?
        Bobbie is my 1st cousin,
        I was rasied a mile south of the General Store. It was owned by Roy Rouse & it was truly a General Store & Post office.You could buy penny candy,store bought bread, animal traps, shotgun shells, postage stamps Ect.

  13. Bill Says:

    Are the quarry’s still there? That would be a cool place to visit if there is anything left to see. Where was the main street located? Is that still there?

  14. Kim Says:

    My great grandfather Charles McAllister and his brothers and father all worked at the Quarry in Grindstone City. I am hoping to find more information on my family history.
    Thank you.

    • Doug Mills Says:

      Hi Kim –

      My Great Great Grandfather – Francis Taafe of Kinde married a Caroline Collins in 1883.
      His BEST man at their wedding was a William McAllister. I have seen your Great Grandfather – Charles McAllister on Census’s. I wonder if this William McAllister was a brother or cousin to your Charles McAllister?

      I live up north – Northwestern Michigan – Bellaire, Shanty Creek resort town. I grew up downstate and spent summers as a kid in the 1970’s in Kinde, Grindstone, Bad Axe and Pinnebog.

      Doug Mills/Carpenter/Taafe Ancesters.

      • Kim Semaan Says:

        Hi, sorry for taking so long in responding, Charles was Williams son. Thank you for sharing that with me. I have been working on my families genealogy history for many years now and I always appreciate anything that helps tell the story of my ancestors. William McAllister was married to Elizabeth “McDonald” Many of my ancestors homesteaded up in that area, including my Carr ancestors. John Carr does that name sound familiar at all? Thank you,
        Kim Semaan

      • Kim Semaan Says:

        Hi again Doug, I just spoke with my aunt and she said the Collins were a related to the McAllisters. I will try to figure out what the connection was. Thanks again

  15. Steve Says:

    Hi Everyone,

    I see there are many people that love Grindstone City. I spent most of my weekends as a kid up there in the 1980s.
    I am currently constructing a page on Facebook to add historical and landscape pictures for everyone to enjoy. If anyone would like to contribute, it would be greatly appreciated. It is Grindstone City Michigan at or you can email me a
    Thanks Steve

    • lindafeamster Says:

      Hi Steve, I saw your thoughts about Grindstone City. I lived there in the sixties. Just a kid. I lived on the harbor, which I guess is now called whalens resort. (Just for a reference I am now 71) My Mom Mabel Whalen and step dad Mac Whalen started the whole Whalen resort thing. I went to sixth grade and two years of highschool at Pt Austin schools. My name then was Linda Welsh. It was an absolutely a beautiul place to live . We live on the Grindstone harbor and my favorite place to be was the right arm of the harbor. Please respond with any comments you might have. I keep thinking I want to come up and visit just because!!


  16. Julie Cooke (Bologna) Says:

    My Grandfather was Sam Bologna. He and my Grandmother Cristina, owned the ‘Sam Bologna Trailer Park’, next to the Casteloma, right across from the Quary. When we were children, we had such adventures exploring that Quary, the woods and the lake. The park is now Thrushman’s Cove. I have some wonderful old photos from the 40’s, to date, that I’d love to share.

    • Bart Fiumano Says:

      Hello Julie,

      Sam and Cristina Bologna were my godparents. I was just in Grindstone City on Wednesday with my wife and friends looking for the Trailer Park and some other memories. I only visited my Godparents once up there, so I only vaguely remember the house. I have/had an old post card of the trailer park. My Godfather and Godmother were somewhat instrumental in my marrying my wife.
      My mother opposed my marriage and suggested that we talk to my Godparents to “get things straight”. My Godfather asked me, “Do you love Diana?” I said “yes”. I then proceded to explain to my mother that she should have no objection even if my wife’s family was from the other side of Terrasini-nor for any other reason.

      I was always curious about my Godparents and their time at both Port Austin and Eustis, Fl. We have a place in the Caseville area and like driving to the area trying to imagine where the house and park were. When you now mention the Quarry, I am even further confused.

      Well, I can go on and on. You know how great your grandparents were. I truly loved them especially my Godfather. Practically every time I went with my dad to the Detroit Fruit Vendors store he would say, “Its good that you help your dad, but make sure you get a good education.

      I can’t say I really know that much about their children in that I only met them once or twice at a wedding or something so I don’t know your mother or father, whomever is the connection.

      If you get a chance write back if you wish with more details about Grindstone City.

    • Janice Says:

      Your grandparents were wonderful people. The were my great aunt and uncle. We visited them often in Grindstone city up until 1970s. Also we lived in SCS at the time. I have Bologna genealogy from Terrasini. Saw a couple of yr aunts at my Mom’s wake earlier this year.

    • Darrell C.Hively Says:

      I knew your God Parents, My Grandparents (the Hively’s lived next store and also lived with them near by in Eustis Fl.

      Darrell C.Hively

    • Jim Says:

      My aunt Kaylene’s best friends’ mother used to have a trailer there Barb Schmidt I believe was my aunts friends name it was the like the first trailer on the left, we used to go swimming there when we were kids late 60’s early 70’s We moved to Grindstone City in the summer of 1972

  17. gregg wright Says:

    just vacationed in thumb drove around andd found grindstone city was wondering about some history about what where how all the stones was used for an where and why is it look abandoned now. Drove past the genral store busy with people, didnot stop wish i did now thanks

  18. No Photos, but my dad and brothers lived in Harbor Beach for many years and when I was a child we would travel to Grindstone City where dad would show us the grindstones that ‘grew on the beach’. Of course, we believed him! At that time you could purchase tiny replicas and we all had one.

  19. Derek McCrea Says:

    Did the new pictures get uploaded yet anywhere of the city the way it used to be?

  20. Sandy Miller Says:

    In about 1948 or 9, I was about 4 years old and my family was fishing at Grindstone city. There was an Island of sorts (wonder if it is still there?, it was to the left when you were facing the water), not far off the beach. Someone had caught a pike fish and did not want it, so my cousin(adult) was trying to cast his line out for the man to put the pike on the line for him. I was on the back of a pickup with my younger cousins. As he cast the line, it hit me in the forhead with a wallop I still remember the thud,pain and blood. I ended up at the doctors getting about 6 stiches.
    Seems the sinker had caught me in the head as he cast. I was the third one, it missed the first two cousins.
    I still have the scar. Will never forget Grindstone City. Had many happy times there also. Fishing and playing. I remember playing on the rocks or as I know now grindstones also.
    Spent many days in Bad Axe, and Caseville in the summers with my grandma. I lived in Detroit.
    I still duck when someone is casting line to close to me.

  21. Marty,

    I found your flickr images of Sitka and would like to know how we can share your images with area folks. I am working on a website for the Sitka united Methodist Church– One of our projects is to “adopt” the Sitka Hall and see if it can be revived as a community center–In addition, I am the Deputy Supervisor for Bridgeton Township (1/2 of Sitka is in Bridgeton Twp & the other 1/2 is in Sheridan Twp) and I am always looking for Bridgeton/community history gems — (website there is I would like to either showcase a collection of your images in a slide-show/flash attached to the 2 websites — Let me know if there is something that we can work out –email 7 contact info is on the bridgeton website.

    Susan Joy

  22. Dave Rusch Says:

    Does anyone know if there are any of the old grindstones still for sale? If you know of anyone who has access to, and are willing to sell some please contact me at

  23. Anne Says:

    We recently bought the old capt peer building in Grindstone City. We are in the process of restoring it and opening the old general store part of the building. We are looking for any pictures available. We have only found one old picture of the building. We would greatly appreciate any pictures involving this building and those who lived in it. We love this place and are so proud to have the chance to bring it back to life. It has been so neglected for so many years.

  24. Ev Weide Says:

    A lot of my family are from the thumb area. My aunt gave me a sort of bowl with a lid from Grindstone City. I have no ideal what it was used for. I intend to take a trip there this summer to see if I can figure it out. Anyone have an idea what it was used for?


  25. maryann Says:

    After my mom passed away when I was only 5 years old my dad and I found peace and happiness in Grind Stone City. I went back up several years ago to find my old bowling game in the Old Grind Stone bar and grill == I broke down in tears! It had been 35 years since I had been there and time stayed still – then went and had ice cream at the general store. It was so nice to feel like a kid again.

  26. BRIAN Says:

    Love to see all the history being rediscovered. Any photos can be added to the Grindstone General Store’s Public Archive.
    3206 Copeland Rd Port Austin MI 48467 or sent to our email
    Keep talking, expressing and sharing your history.

    • Jim Mullen Says:

      I grew up in Grindstone City in the 70’s My parents owned the house west of the Grindstone General Store. There was the house and the cinder block building, my grandfather built it in the 50’s and wanted to open up a barbershop. He died before he could complete it. It was just shell roof walls and a wooden floor full of junk as my grandfather was a pack rat. In the early 70’s we had a little gift shop in the front of that building, my Mom would get the flat bigger grindstone and paint scenes of Grindstone City as she remembered them from her youth. She would get the small round stones paint smiley faces of different colors on them. On other stones she would paint the zodiac signs, some of them she would drill a hole through and run a piece of leather through so you wear them. She couldn’t paint them fast enough especially the scene’s. My aunt would make drift wood sand candles and sell them there as well
      I remember the Mikolowski’s in addition to their paper they used to make Tee shirts with scenes from Grindstone Cities past on them, they were blue and white. I remember they gave me one for my graduation from High School, I loved that shirt it was so comfortable, I have it still stored away. Down the road used to be the home of David Summerville, he used to make small grindstones and put them in a walnut stand that he also made, and he would sell them to the tourists He was one of the last men to work in quarries before they shut them down in the 30’s Then there was the Cook sisters, sisters who had married brothers and they were both teachers. One lived in the house that the Mikolowski owned, they actually bought it from her. The other sister lives in the house just before the crick, she used to have 3 or 4 small cabins that she used to rent our in the summer time, they were always full all summer long, Mrs Woods used to live on the other side of crick and they used to have wooden bridge on the back of their properties that they used to use to visit each other. Couple of house down was the Moran house I believe it was Russ Moran and he used to be a commercial fisherman, back in the 60’s he used to sell smoked fish. I could share so many more memories lol

      To Darwin that was my mother Blanche everyone called her Bobbie, her husband my dad was called DJ

      Jim Mullen

  27. Flo Paulin Says:

    I recently discovered I had ancestors who lived in Huron county. Specifically, a distant cousin – Henry (John Henry) Richards is listed on the 1880 census as living in Grindstone City. It appears that he was employed there. My husband and I are planning a trip to that area in late June/early July. Flo

  28. […] of the most commented posts on Michigan in Pictures is Not much remains of Grindstone City which featured a photo of one of the few remaining grindstones on a beach that was once covered in […]

  29. Carrie Zaitz Says:

    Does anyone remember anything about the Methodist Church in Grindstone City? We bought the beloved Church and are restoring it, but the records I’ve scoured are somewhat vague or contradictory about the age of the church. We know it was moved from a location further toward Eagle Bay, and the bell says 1882. We know many people got married there, – is there anyone out there with wedding pictures? I love hearing these stories.

    • Jim Says:

      In the 70’s the Pastor for the church came from Port Austin to do the services. I can’t recall his name which is sad since we were in the Port Austin Community Player Production of South Pacific in 1979. He was big man with an even bigger heart with a kind smile and good word for everyone…There used to be a large apple tree and large table made from one of the large grindstones like the one used in the memorial across the street. these were located near the Copeland Rd parking lot entrance

      • Lu Toner Says:

        Could the Reverend’s name possibly have been Rev. Garrett? He was the chaplain up at the Port Austin Air Force base in the 1970’s and married my first husband and I in October of 1975. He also was pastor at the Protestant Church in Port Austin at that time, which is where we were married. He was of a big build, very outgoing, friendly and a genuinely nice man.

      • Lu Toner Says:

        Jim, I just found this online. It’s a link to a newspaper article from 1974 that states Rev. Robert Garrett was pastor at Grindstone City, Port Austin and Pinnebog United Methodist Churches.

    • Scott Says:

      Hello Carrie. I just found out from 2 sources that the church was first located at rouse and carrie lane rds. Then moved in the 40’s to current location. Me and my buddie last fall metaldetected at your church, with premission.

      • Jim Mullen Says:

        Hey Scott, I metal detect as well. How did you do? Ive always wanted to hunt the old Methodist Church along with a few other sites there….

      • Carrie Zaitz Says:

        Hi- did you find anything interesting? Right now we’ve got the lawn all chewed up- we put geothermal heat in and soon we’ll be putting a septic system in with a well. So I don’t know about metal detecting around there, it may be hazardous! But thanks for the info on the move- do you remember what your sources were? Moved in the 40’s- but I wonder when it was built! Still a mystery!

      • Jim Mullen Says:

        Hi Carrie with everything torn up would be a great time to detect, it stirs things up and brings things that were deeper closer to the surface some times lol Would like to get permission to hunt while it is torn up?

  30. Jim Says:

    Yes that is him, Seems we share the same memories of him. Thank you for posting the link…

  31. Paul W. Mayes Says:

    Jim Mullen, I knew your sister Paula, and I believe you went to school with my sister, Sue. Hope all is well with you and yours. My twin brother and I were good friends with Mike Mikelowski and his family. Mike was wise beyond his years and recognized the wonder of life and nature before I ever did. We weren’t wise enough, at the time, to realize the beauty of Anne’s art, and the wonderful simplicity of their organic lifestyle (they probably had the best garden in Huron County!).

    I’ve seen that people are looking for photographs, and unfortunately, the only pictures I have are in my head. I remember fishing in the quarries — usually by trespassing — and catching lots and lots of rock bass. I also recall the time Mike Mikelowski took us on a tour of the Grind Stone City caves (the broken piles of stone often resulted in caves and tunnels that could be explored).

    I also remember the Moran’s shed and net drying operation. Mrs. Moran was a sometimes-substitute teacher at the Port Austin schools, and I believe she first started at the Grindstone school.

    Well, I’ve prattled on long enough. Great to read about other people’s memories of Grind Stone City.

    Paul W. Mayes

    • Jim Mullen Says:

      Hello Paul Mayes, yes I graduated with your sister Sue and I remember her fondly… I do believe you used to raise Checkered Giant rabbits with your brother Allen?? and showed in 4-H at the Huron County Fair If I remember correctly….Hope this find you and your brother and sister in good health and cheer

      • Richard Schodowski Says:

        Hi Jim Mullen, we purchased the house from your sister Paula about 5 years ago, but did not stay in contact with her. There were many things left behind in the house after she left. We threw most of the stuff out, but there were some things that we kept in case we ever had the opportunity to contact family and return it to them. Mostly pictures, but there is also a Bible that was in a special box. There is one picture that is pretty old, maybe of your grandparents, it was framed back in the 80’s. Some of the pictures also have your name on the back of them. I would love to give these things to you so they can remain in your family. If you are interested please contact me at .
        Take care, Richard Schodowski

  32. Pam Sienkiewicz Says:

    Looking for the general store, please.

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