Leland Blue Stones

The story of the Leland Blue Stone is not exactly as alluring as finding one on the beaches in Leland. The Leland Blue Stone is actually slag – a waste product from the smelting process used in the late 1800s by the Leland Lake Superior Iron Company. Watch an informative video or below is an interesting exerpt from a story published by MyNorth/Traverse Magazine:


Photo shared by Brenda J. Clark Gallery

Leland Blue, A Way of Life in Northern Michigan
By Adrienne Roberts | August 13, 2014 | MyNorth

There are many iconic things that represent the lifestyle of Northern Michigan — sipping a glass of local wine outdoors on a cool night, an evening walk on the beaches of Lake Michigan, or a leisurely breakfast on the back porch of your cottage. But perhaps nothing is more representative of this area than Leland Blue. If you live or vacation in Leland, you may have noticed a blue stone on the shoreline. This stone is, more often than not, Leland Blue.

From 1870 to 1885, Leland was a smog-filled industrial town, the main industry of which was anchored by the Leland Lake Superior Iron Company. After the smelting industry failed because of large overhead costs and the lack of a good harbor in Leland, the remains of the industry, including heaps of slag, were dumped into the harbor. Slag is a byproduct of the smelting process: raw ore is heated, and the desired iron ore is separated from various natural impurities. When those impurities cool, the result is stone-like slag. Leland Blue, specifically, is the mix of blue glass with other chemicals — but this varying chemical medley can also cause the slag to appear purple, gray, or a shade of green. Today, people find this slag material on the shores of Leland’s beaches.

But for many locals, Leland Blue has become much more than a waste product. Leland Blue has become the industry itself (used in jewelry, artistic creations and photography) — but in true Northern Michigan style, it’s not so much an industry as it is a way of life. More than just a quintessentially Northern Michigan stone, Leland Blue is the foundation of a whole lifestyle that has seamlessly blended the business of selling Leland Blue with the love of finding and working with it.

Leland Blue stones also have a very wide range of colors and shapes, the name being a bit misleading. There’s a huge variation in stones, from shades of green, purple, and gray to the more traditional blue stones that are often pitted from air bubbles… however, these imperfections are what can add beauty to the stones – including range in color and overall texture. Read More