(WPBN/WGTU) -- In September 2015 a Manistee County man managed to pull in a rock hound haul of a lifetime; a 92-pound Petoskey stone.
Tim O'Brien of Copemish spotted the huge Petoskey stone buried in the sand several feet out in Lake Michigan. After O'Brien retrieved the trophy and proudly posted a picture of his find on Facebook his posts quickly went viral.
The story featured on UpNorthLive that first week reached nearly 400,000 people and was shared more than 4,000 times. The story was posted on websites from coast to coast and also aired on television affiliates for NBC, ABC, CNN and was also shared on The Weather Channel.
The story also garnered the attention of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Removing more than 25-pounds of any rock from state-owned land is against the law in Michigan.
Parks and Recreation Areas - State Land Rules
(hh) Remove from state-owned land more than the aggregate total weight of 25 pounds, per individual per year of any rock, mineral specimen (exclusive of any gold bearing material), or invertebrate fossil for individual or non-commerical hobby use.
PENALTY, MCL 324.504 (Excerpt) (History: 1994, Act 451, Eff. March 30,1995; -Am 1996, Act 171, Imd. Eff. April 18, 1996.) A person who violates a rule,or an order is responsible for a state civil infraction and may be ordered to pay a civil fine of not more than $500.00
While many people shared childhood memories about their favorite rock hunting spots and others discussed how Petoskey stone hunting is a huge part of the northern Michigan lifestyle, many were not aware of the 25-pound weight limit.
The DNR did confiscate the 92-pound Petoskey from O'Brien's home and while he could have faced a fine as a result of the issue, he did not have to pay one.
So where is the 92-pound Petoskey stone today?
According to a DNR spokesperson, the Petoskey stone is still in the departments possession at one of its facilities, which would not be disclosed. At some point it may be put on public display, but officials are still trying to determine the next step.
As far as Tim O'Brien, two years after his fossil find, he said he's glad it brought rock hunting into the limelight.
"It is amazing I still hear people talking about it. I've had people recognize me from the story which I thought was kinda crazy. When the story was trending ahead of the pope's visit that was weird. My fifteen minutes of fame lasted a lot longer than expected. To me the good that came out of it is it did bring rock hunting into the spotlight. Everyone is aware of the law now," said O'Brien.
Rock hunters of all ages enjoy combing the beaches for Petoskey stones and the popular Leland Blues and everything in between. Books line the shelves telling of the history of the Petoskey stone and its legend. While some highlight the best spots to find the fossils, most hobby rock hunters have their 'secret spots' and keep the location tightly under wraps.