A Great Lakes shipper, Captain Aaron Peer, sought shelter in the area’s natural harbor in 1834. As his crew explored the dense forest and rocky beach for shelter and firewood, the men came across huge flat rocks lying about the shore and forests. Taking samples south to Detroit, they found the stone (part of the Marshall Sandstone Formation) to be impeccably suited for paving streets, replacing Ohio flagstone as the preferred medium. Within a couple years, Captain Peer and his crew took advantage of the stone to sharpen their tools, and began shaping them into grindstones shortly thereafter. A small port grew here as industry took hold in the forest.
From the 1830s until the 1910s, Grindstone City produced some of the highest quality grindstones in the United States.