Walking along the shore of Lake Superior in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in June 2017, Eric Rintamaki saw something unusual: stones that were glowing in the dark. A self-professed “rock hound”, Rintamaki was always patrolling the beaches for new and prized finds. After getting an idea to bring a UV flashlight on a rock hunting expedition, Rintamaki started walking the beach at 4 am one night – and just before sunrise, he saw the two dime-sized glowing stones.
“Blown away” by what he had found, Rintamaki reported his findings to other gem and mineral collectors, as well as researched for information online about them, but no one seemed to know anything about them. Rintamaki dubbed them “Yooperlites”, after UP dwellers who call themselves “Yoopers”, and began selling them online.
In the months that followed, he made a few more late-night trips and found about a dozen more. Then he decided to upgrade to a larger flashlight, and the size of his findings also grew – the largest stone to date weighed about five pounds. The Yooperlites then drew interest from Michigan State University and Saskatchewan University, whose research confirmed the stones were a composite of fluorescent sodalite, which had first been visually identified by California geologiest Gabe Reyna, and grey syenite. They also marked this as being the first occurrence of sodalite found in Michigan.
The study went on to further hypothesize that the rocks were not native to Michigan, but had traveled to their present location on a Lake Superior beach through the movement of a glacier from Ontario, Canada, during the end of the last Ice Age. After the study was made public in May 2018, interest in the Yooperlites went viral, and the story was picked up by several mainstream media news outlets. You can watch the CBS news feature, which shows the glowing stones, below:
Mainstream news coverage created a tremendous surge in Rintamaki’s business and effectively changed his life. Not only was he still selling Yooperlites online, which he could buff into a smooth polished stone with a tumbling machine, he also started giving Yooperlite hunting tours, which were booked solid a year in advance. Taking tour groups to Lake Superior beaches around dusk, he said he never had a group who hadn’t found them.
He also sells UV flashlights on his website for anyone who wants to try hunting for the glowing stones on their own. MSU researchers have noted that the presence of large quantities of this stone and the fact that it was discovered so recently suggest that there still may be many more new gems and minerals to be discovered within Michigan.
However, a word to the wise: the fact that these stones are hidden in plain sight suggests that they may not want to be found, disturbed or removed from their resting site. Sodalite is a mineral that enhances intuition, communication, truth, and psychic abilities – so if you do happen to find them, it may be better just to sit with them and appreciate the energetic upgrades they (and Lake Superior) may bestow upon you, without taking the actual stones with you for personal gain. Remember, respect for the planet is respect for your self.[H/T CBSNews, Yooperlites]