The story of Grindstone City Michigan starts in 1836, with Great Lakes Shipping Captain Peer purchasing 400 acres of land to establish a grindstone quarrying and manufacturing operation. The area where Peer discovered this abrasive stone, its fine grit, was unique to the tip of Michigan’s Thumb and part of the Marshall Sandstone formation. The stone is easy to work with and ideal for shaping.
The first grindstones supplied to local farmers and blacksmiths were made of sandstone. These stones were used for sharpening knives, axes, scythes, and sickles.
Competition of Grindstone City Michigan
From the 1830s until the 1910s, Grindstone City Michigan produced the premier grinding wheels in the United States. In 1888, the Cleveland Stone Co. Purchased the property owned by Worthington and Sons and became the sole owner of all quarry properties. They continued to operate the store and quarries, but the salt works were discontinued, as operating costs made it no longer profitable.
For a significant part of the late 1800s, grindstone quarries dotted the shores of Lake Huron from Port Austin to Harbor Beach. The most notable competitor to Grindstone City was in nearby Lake Township. Here the Babbitt Sandstone Company found the stone was harder and had color. Thus they switched to making gravestones. The Wallace quarry near Bay Port was the other. These stones were used to sharpen tools and knives, and axes. Farm tools such as plows needed sharpening, as did scythes that cut wheat or rye.
The End of the Grindstone Era
Due to carborundum taking the place of grinding stones, the quarries could no longer be operated at a profit. Grindstone City stumbled into swift decline, and all quarrying and production operations ceased in 1930.
Grindstone City, Michigan, was a thriving community of stone workers. They created grindstones for farmers and blacksmiths across the state. The Cleveland Stone Company operated one of the largest quarries in Grindstone City during this period. In addition to supplying local customers, they also exported their products worldwide.