Bob Blackledge and his granddaughter, Anna Kissel, were excavating a retaining wall along the Blackledges’ driveway on West Spring Lake Road when they uncovered a layer of shiny metal. Removing railroad ties that comprised the structure of the wall, they found sheet metal holding the dirt in place.
“I thought it was metal flashing that somebody had put in there when they were building the wall,” Blackledge said. “I couldn’t figure out why. It seemed odd to me.”
The metal sheets turned out to be newspaper plates from editions of the Grand Haven Tribune. One page was dated Oct. 10, 1987, and the metal was etched with stories and photographs.
Kissel, an incoming freshman at Spring Lake High School, noticed the wording on the plates immediately.
“It was cool because they were from forever ago,” she said. “They’re older than me. Not older than Grandpa,” she added.
The Blackledges bought the house 19 years ago. Blackledge said they were aware at the time that the house had previously been remodeled, with the garage added.
“This gives us a little better fix on the date,” he said. “Finding these plates was interesting, a piece of history. Kind of like opening a time capsule.”
The aluminum plates are used in the newspaper printing process. They were often sold when the Tribune was printed in Grand Haven.