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Gitche Gumee Agate and History Museum

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General Testimonials

Hi Karen:
My husband and I just returned from five days in the UP--we had a great time! We visited the Agate Museum and enjoyed it immensely. My husband was especially taken with the Shark and its history. I bought your new book while we were there...I had already found a couple little agates (one is an eye agate!) but learned to "think like an agate" and then found a bunch more. Our final day camping at Muskallonge Lake I made one final early morning sweep before packing up. Not 15 minutes before I had to leave the beach I found the big one (well, big to me) in my hand! (Note: see the photo in the customer agate find section of this web page.)
Thank you,
Rhonda Riebow

Hi Karen!
Meant to drop you a note a couple of weeks ago (upon returning home from G.M.), but got caught up in the getting-ready-for-school mode and didn't get to it.
I very much enjoyed chatting with you when I stopped in your shop! And....the scoop has proven to be very handy! (Unfortunately, here isn't much to scoop in Lansing, but I did use it while in Petoskey this last weekend.)
I continue to appreciate the piece of seashell jasper that I purchased from you...such wonderful energy that stone has! And, of course, the agates I purchased are great as well! The "peeler", I believed you called it, is one I especially like!
Speaking of agates...when you and I were talking, the evening before I had to leave G.M., I mentioned that I had yet to find an agate. Well, the next morning, prior to heading home, I decided to pop down to the beach one last time. Yup...you guessed it...I found an agate! It was so exciting! It's a little one, but an agate nonetheless.
Enjoy the remainder of the summer!
Marsha from Lansing, MI

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Web Site Testimonials

Dear Karen,

My name is Arleen, and I just wanted to thank you for posting the "Story of Grand Marais" as written by James Carter on your website. My grandfather was the Thomas Regan mentioned in the article who began the cigar factory. I cannot begin to tell you how exciting it was to come across your website and see his name in the story! I just sent the story to my brother so he could enjoy it as well. We have been doing some research on the Regan and Cowell families, and this was a very neat addition to our family history. It adds yet another piece to the puzzle, as they say.

Thank you again for posting the Grand Marais story, Karen. It was quite an interesting read, and I appreciate your taking the time to put it online so that others might be able to see and enjoy it.

Arleen Regan Citro

Dear Karen:
I recently listened to Gordon Lightfoot’s song The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. That song has a ‘Gitche Gumee’ reference in it, which made me think of the Gitche Gumee Museum and Axel. That made me think of all the two-week long summer vacations I spent camping on the bluffs above Lake Superior in Grand Marais with my family and friends in the 60’s and 70’s. With one Google search I found agatelady.com. I will never forget Axel playing tunes on his huckleberry pickers. The pictures of Axel on your web page are precious. I haven’t been to Grand Marais since 1980 when I was in college. I’m putting a trip to Grand Marais on my calendar for this summer.
That little internet journey helped take the edge off another Monday.
Thank you Agate Lady,
Scott from Louisville, CO
Formerly from Walled Lake, MI

Dear Karen Agate Lady:
What a great job and location [where you live]. Do you realize how many agates we missed when we were kids and just went out to the beach? We want to complement you on the web site and comment about how lucky you are to have the museum. We wish you continued good fortune.
Terri and Ed

I just finished reading the latest www.agatelady.com web page update and liked it very much. You do such a good job. I even read the testimonials and especially liked Jim Carter's and I enjoyed his history of GM, too.
Keep up the good work.

Hi, Karen!

You have a truly marvelous website for the museum, and it's very easy to navigate. I've enjoyed reading especially about agates and the history of Grand Marais in preparation for my wife and my FIRST TRIP to your part of Michigan.

We live in Three Rivers, south of Kalamazoo and not far from the Indiana border, but love visiting 'up north' every summer for a week. We've already made arrangements for a week in Grand Marais. . . . and for sure we'll want to take one or more of your courses in agates and local history when we visit the museum. I've always wanted to explore the hobby of lapidary, and now that I'm recently retired I think that will be a reality. What better way to start than to find a few agates along the Lake Superior shore?

Looking forward to the sunsets, which I understand are incomparable in Grand Marais with any others!

Sincerely yours,
Vic Eichler

"Karen, I just browsed through the photos on your web site. They are AWESOME! Such beauty! I hope you are very proud of your pictures. Funny even though I lived in GM for a while, and was there all through my childhood I never heard of the ghost forest, so that was educational for me. I am so glad that you take these timeless photos and share them with every one. They are a constant reminder of how beautiful the Upper Peninsula is and especially Grand Marais and surrounding area. KEEP UP THE GREAT WORK!!! I'm a fan of your photos!"

"What a beautiful and very interesting site. Hope to see your museum later this month, but will have 87 year old mom with me, who's not too inclined to get in and out of the car. Anyway, I feel like I have visited, just by enjoying your site."
- J. Orr

"It is so great to read your monthly web page update and look at the web pictures. Thanks for all you do"
-Gretchen Fairnosi, Newaygo, MI

"I have just spent more than an hour going through your wonderful website!!!! WOW, you have some REALLY GREAT STUFF IN HERE. I enjoyed your photos of Axel and the Grand Marais environment. You do nice work there "Agate Lady"."
- Helen Riley, Marquette, MI

"We have been enjoying your website We can only say: Amazing. When we get homesick for Grand Marais, everything is there. Thanks for all the time and effort you have put into this."
- Connie and Neil Snepp, Haslett MI

"Just wanted to let you know that your agatelady.com wed site is outstanding!!! I've enjoyed reading all the history about the museum, the Niemi's and Grand Marais. I can tell how much work you have into and it shows. Well done!"
- Brooke Whaley, Marquette, MI July 2003

"Hello, Karen. I have just visited the Gitchee Gumee Agate and History Museum website and am compelled to let you know what a fabulous website you've created!"
- Sincerely, Ed and Sharon Seaton

"I love your website, its design, its ease, its quality. The feel I get from all of it is love and care. Wow!"
- Barb Tooker, Temecula, CA

"Karen..........Thanks again.......and keep up the great work with the museum and website! Many of us enjoy it, even if we do not email much...."
Kevin Tate PhD

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Museum Testimonials

"I stopped to visit and browse at your shop this past July. I purchased a copy of your book entitled "Understanding and Finding Agates". Indulging in a little nostalgia and longing for my beloved UP, I looked up your site again. Keep up your work and enthusiasm. Your are truly blessed by God to own your humble but appreciated agate shop and it's prior history. Axel is looking down from heaven and smiling on your passion for that piece of heaven on earth."
- Thanks, Nancy Thompson

"I enjoyed the agate presentation you made Sunday. I have been collecting Lake Superior agates for over 30 years. I had done a fair amount of reading on agates but you brought out a number of things that I do not remember reading about. Now when I’m out looking for agates, I will be looking at them in a different way. P.S.--You have a great web page. Again, thank for the informative presentation on agates."
- Ernie Johnson, Marquette, MI

"My wife and I took your agate class this past Saturday. Saturday evening, we went hunting on the beach at Muskellunge State Park, and I found an agate fragment. It's about 1" x 2" and maybe a quarter inch thick. I was quite pleased with myself and just wanted to let you know that we really enjoyed your class. After several years of picking up rocks on the shores of Lake Superior, we finally have a bit of a clue what we're doing."
- Thanks Again, Dave Root

"Karen..........Thanks again.......and keep up the great work with the museum and website! Many of us enjoy it, even if we do not email much...."
Kevin Tate PhD

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Agate Book Testimonials

Here is a testimonial I received (unsolicited):


I am probably the worst procrastinator ever.  But late as it is here is our testimonial for your Agate Class and your new book, "How to Find Agates, a New Method".  My daughter and I thoroughly enjoyed the Agate Class we took last August 2015.  Using the book and remembering what you taught us in the class WE DID FIND AGATES!! and we loved every minute of it.  We love both your books and we don't go rock hounding with out them.  We will buy any books you write.  We would also recommend your class and your books to everyone who loves agates and wants to find them.  We will be coming back your way in July this time and will stop by the museum and hope to see you.

Thank you again for making rock hunting so much more fun.

Sharon Aulis and Roshelle Hall

Hi Karen,

I serendipitously found a copy of your book "Agates Inside Out" at Barnes and Nobles in Rosedale Minnesota. Really nice job, although there are a few minor geology points I'd quibble with. I intend to recommend it to all my rockhound acquaintances.

Giving a list of quibbles should not hide the fact I really like your work and will talk it up. Here are some of my positives.

--Good review of agate genesis.

--Good review of agate varieties, and many of the structures visible in agates.

--Good tips for hunting and identifying agates.

--The discussion of agate wannabees and things such as jaspers and chert that can grade into agates is really good and helpful.

--Like the abundant referencing of sources.

--Like the warm enthusiasm and sense of wonder that pervades the text.

--Like the photos. The only person I've known that could do comparable photos was my good friend, now recently deceased, Pete Rodewald. Don't know if you've meet Pete in your ramblings, but you would have gotten along.

So, to the quibbles.

p. 4 "Only about 30 minerals" - MinDat lists about 60 minerals of hardness that is equal to 7.5 or more.

p. 16. I get the impression form the text that a supernova brought in all the materials making our solar system 4.6 billion years. The event 4.6 billion years ago was an explosion that triggered collapse of a pre-existing nebula. Although there was material brought in with the burst, the bulk of the material was already there.

p. 19 Keweenawan rifting is thought to have ended due to pressure from a continental collision/mountain building episode further east (the Grenville event). See Gene LaBerge's book for details.

p. 20 Whole mantle is not "semi-molten" - only the asthenosphere.

p. 28. The number of oxygen atoms shared with molecules other than silicon vary with silicate type. In some silicates, like olivine, all the oxygen atoms are shared with Fe or Mg. In quartz, none of the oxygen atoms are shared with things other than silicon.

p. 109. I'm really having trouble with the specific gravity chart. Potassium feldspar SG is 2.55-2.6, plagioclase feldspar is 2.6-2.7. Granite is 2.7, Basalt pebbles about 3.0. Why are the values so low on your chart?

Fig. 117 - Rhyolite. The sample pictured shows phenocrysts, not amygdules. The pinkish mineral is k -feldspar, the gray mineral is quartz. These minerals grew from the rhyolite magma, not as later vesicles fillings.

p. 132 I wouldn't call binghamite chalcedony. All the binghamite I've ever seen has macrocrystalline quartz in it.

Best wishes,
Dr. William S. Cordua
Professor of Geology
Dept. Plant and Earth Science
University of Wisconsin - River Falls

Hi Karen

I just wanted you to know that I think your book is wonderful. More detail later, but I am savoring it every day. You should be very proud. You are an inspiration to me and, I'm sure, many others.

Beautiful work.

John M Edwards

Dear Karen:

Thanks for looking at the email picture I sent you. The red and white are translucent, but the rest is opaque. I think you're right about the red being carnelian and also about the agate having jasper. I've been reading and enjoying your book "Understanding and Finding Agates". I've read other books on agates, but this one, by far, has been the most informative. When I'm done reading your first book, I'm going to buy your second book.

Diane Dahlstrom


I just finished your new book and it is fantastic! The pictures are beautiful! I had no idea that we could find agates here in Germany. We had been in the Nahe river valley several times and did not know that there were agates there. Now we know and can satisfy our agate fever till we can get back to Grand Maris. Thanks again and a job well done!

Mark and Nicole Smedley

I purchased your book at Moose Lake, MN last weekend. You did a fantastic job and the photography is awesome!
Bob Marsh

We just ordered your new book. We've enjoyed your old one and wanted to get the new one. It's been quite a while since the last time we were in Grand Marais and we're missing it. We're in Germany now, but in a couple of years, we'll be back in MI and be heading up regularly. As a kid I would go up every year in summer. I have very fond memories of Axel and it was always the high light to get into Gitchee Gumee and hear his stories. You have done a wonderful job to keep it going! We can't wait to get the new book, and get back up there! Keep up the good work.
Mark and Nicole Smedley

Dear Karen:
Two summers ago I met you and was introduced to Lake Superior agates. I took your class at the shop and I think I found one in four long days of looking. Using your advice and my developed passion for the hobby, I now stay all summer at a campground on the Keweenaw. I now find MANY agates!!! I know location has something to do with it as well. I purchased your new book today in Copper Harbor and wanted to tell you that this is the best by far of any agate books I have ever seen or read. I probably have 6-10 books on the subject. Keep up the great work. I'd like to see your improvements to the museum. I am formerly from Ft. Atkinson WI but now I am a resident of AZ except for my four months in the Keweenaw.
Don Lindberg

The book photographer, Tom Shearer, received this email:

Hi Tom,
I had a chance to read your new book on agates this weekend. I really enjoyed it. Your pictures are what made it come alive, as your co-author noted in the introduction. It would have been just another book on the agate without your photos. Instead it is a whole new concept.
I did learn a lot. I didn't know the inflow theory was a theory. That was always my story and I'm sticking to it, to heck with the Gel Theory pronouncements. I really appreciated the depth of the mineralogy information compared to very surface included in most other agate books.
Sue Henke

Hi Karen,
My copy of "Agates Inside Out" arrived last week. It's the best book on agates I've ever seen! It's obvious you spent a lot of time putting it all together. I've written a couple of family histories, so I have some idea of all the work involved. The photos of agates are fantastic! I'm not sure I can choose a favorite. I might be able to make a list of my top ten favorites - or maybe 20. Thanks for writing the book for us agate nuts.
Karen Miller

Hi Karen,
Received your book on Tuesday. It is very nice - the size is great and the photos are beautiful - you should be very proud of it. Looking forward to sitting down and reading it. My sister's also arrived and she likes it too.
You've got a winner here - it will sell itself!
Janice Chamberlain

The agate book I purchased from you arrived today. The book is wonderful and I am reading every word of it carefully. The best book on agates I have seen. I look forward to your new one.

The second letter was received recently from Jim Carter, a native of Grand Marais who has lived in Marquette for many years.

Dear Karen:

I’ve been meaning to write for some time commending you on your excellent guide, Understanding and Finding Agates, which I bought at the Museum several months ago.

It is obviously very well done by a professional in the field. Its excellent organization and clear writing style leads the reader through what is some rather complicated material, and giving in the end a good, informed picture of what this agate business is all about. This publication has all the marks of becoming a standard resource on the subject. The References, Glossary and Index sections are extremely useful features.

The layout and quality of printing are also very good. The Book Concern has always done a top job in printing (although their physical plant isn’t very impressive). I’ve had work done there since the late 1960s--the most recent was my large-scale map of logging railroads in the east-central U.P. and its accompanying historical narrative, done by the Book Concern last year.

For over 20 years I was director of the Northern Michigan University Press, a book publishing operation, and during that time I reviewed many manuscripts, with accompanying illustrations, art, maps, etc. At the same time, I chaired the book publishing operation of the John M. Longyear Research Library here (as a volunteer)--a private non-profit organization not connected with NMU. So a lot of stuff has come across my desk over the years. Yours ranks with the best.

Axle Niemi would pop his buttons with pride over what you’re doing with the museum and publication. By the way, I don’t know if he ever told you the circumstances around his finding of the “big agate.” I was in Grand Marais when he found it. As I recall, he found it on the beach west of Second Creek. I asked him, “What did you do when you found it?” He said he hollered and “did a jig” on the beach. It isn’t hard to picture that scenario!

All the best, Karen. Hope you enjoy the holidays and have a good year ahead.

Sincerely, your friend:
Jim Carter

Dear Gitche Gumee Museum:

I recently took a trip to the U.P. for the first time in my adult life. We camped out in a state forest campground located on Lake Superior. My main focus for the trip was collecting rocks. Before going on my trip I tried to do some research as to what kinds of rocks I was going to be collecting. Other than locating a few pictures online, I was unable to find any good information on agates specifically. I knew very little about them, but I was determined to find at least one. On the second to last day of our trip we went through Marquette and stopped at the mall, where I purchased a copy of your book Understanding and Finding Agates. I wish I had known about this book prior to going up north. I just wanted to tell you that I found it by far the most informative book of its kind, and although it helped me figure out that most of what I found were not agates, it definitely has gotten me more prepared for my next trip (which is currently being planned). Thank you for publishing such a great book for rockhounds like me to use. I look forward to visiting the museum during our next trip.

From one rockhound to another.
Traci Bradshaw

"I just got a copy of your Agate book last weekend and I think it's the best I've seen on helping me to identify an Agate. Yes, in full dress, an agate is pretty identifiable, but I don't find many like that, so I have to be looking for other clues."
- Thanks again, James L. Jansen, St Paul MN

"We purchased your book from B. Dalton and found it to be very informative. May I also add it was an enjoyable, easy read. Thank you. Being some what new to the agate hunting hobby, it made things very understandable for us. Thanks again for your wonderful book! Peace Be With You."
- Mike and Rhonda Brody Elk Run Heights, IA

I hope you and the Museum have a great 2010. Thank you for the book you sent with our order before the holidays. It is a very well written book and I look forward to reading various sections over again and using it as a reference guide. My parents liked the window panel you made and my sisters/brother enjoyed the plates. With luck, our family will make a trek to Grand Marais this summer. We enjoy all of the Great Lakes and like the small lakeside towns. Keep warm.
John Leblanc from Wisconsin

Hi Karen;
I met you last week at the East Grand Rapids Schoolhouse Arts and Craft Show. I bought a small agate pendant and your book.
I found your book fascinating! I've have always had a soft spot for pretty stones, semiprecious and gem stones, and fossils. I think I may have to try agate hunting next spring, too!
I live in the Grand Rapids area. I take it that is doesn't pay to watch for agates around here. Is that correct? If not, my boyfriend and I are going to have to decide where to vacation next spring because I certainly want to try to find agates. I have doubts on being able to identify them appropriately, so I'll try to do more reading about it over the winter.
Thanks for creating such a fascinating and informational book. I'll be sure to watch your website as well.
Janine Herin

Hi Karen,
I had a few days off last week to spend with my family, and I shared your agate book with my dad since he is a rock lover. We both have enjoyed reading it! He collected agates from other countries but didn’t know much about Lake Superior stones, so I said he has to get himself to your shop and get going!
It was kind of you to give me a copy, and I thank you for such good reading.
Peace on,
Lissa Radke
U.S. Coordinator
Lake Superior Binational Forum
Northland College
Ashland WI

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Gitche Gumee Mineral Art Products Testimonials

I received the following email from Lynn and Lon Emerick of Skandia, MI:

"We (and our visitors) are enjoying the two agate panels you designed and installed in our overhead light. The agates, the design, and the surrounding colors all complement our log home in the woods. Your skill in the design as well as in the exact measurements (so that the panels you made from long distance JUST FIT in the space needed) is impressive!"
"We (and our visitors) are enjoying the two agate panels you designed and installed in our overhead light. The agates, the design, and the surrounding colors all complement our log home in the woods. Your skill in the design as well as in the exact measurements (so that the panels you made from long distance JUST FIT in the space needed) is impressive!"

Cusom Agate Ceiling Light
"The agate window panel looks great! You are so creative. It looks like you did an excellent job picking additional agates and arranging them. We can hardly wait to have this work of art mounted in our front entry! Have a great day and thanks so much for all your work. Leave some agates on the beach for us to pick up next summer!"
- Frank and Karen Miller

"Thanks for agate window panel. My girlfriend absolutely loved it. She said it was the best present she ever received! Thanks again."
- Raphael Sullivan, Munising, MI

Custom Window
Hi Karen,
I'm sorry I couldn't be there when you delivered our agate window panels. While at work, Leanne sent me an email with a picture, and even there the panels looked fantastic. I knew they'd be even better when I saw them in person, and boy, did they ever! They are absolutely beautiful.
Thank you very much for your artistry and craftswomanship. The panels are sure to inspire awe, and generate conversations and compliments. We're very proud to have them, and have already started thinking about how better to highlight them. The first step however, is finding the right hooks. Once the panels are installed, I'll get a few pictures and send them to you.
Thanks again, and we'll see you next time we visit Grand Marais.
Randy and Leanne

Hi Karen,
Hung the panels today and they look great. Here are eight photos of varying camera settings and lighting. No natural daylight shots yet but I hope to take some over the holidays. We’ve been experimenting with the various lights in the area, and agates look great in all situations. Got to get that green wall repainted soon, though.
If you're interested in any of these in their original size, just let me know.
Thanks again for your beautiful work!
Randy and Leanne
Custom Window

Article Testimonials

Last year I published an article in the Michigan Historical Society’s Chronicle magazine. Here is a testimonial I received about the article:

Hi, Karen,

This is Doug and Jan Sjoquist from the Central Michigan Lapidary and Mineral Society in the Lansing area.  We subscribe to the Historical Society of Michigan Chronicle magazine and saw your wonderful article on agates.  It was awesome.  Very informative, well-researched, and organized.  Nice photos, too.  Great.  I think I will make some copies of it for some of our interested members or at least let them know about it.

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Gitche Gumee Museum.
E21739 Brazel Street
Grand Marais, Michigan 49839


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