Thanks to Mlive for this:
NORTON SHORES, MI – When David Olson started demolishing old cement steps at his Norton Shores home, he found a bowling ball.
He kept digging, eventually producing a pile of bowling balls in his backyard — a temporary, makeshift monument to Muskegon County’s bowling ball-making history.
Olson discovered 158 Brunswick bowling balls buried beneath his house’s back landing.
“I could not believe how many I found,” Olson said.
It took him about four hours to break up the concrete and unearth the trove of mostly unfinished bowling balls. Olson and his family moved into the house about two years ago.
“It almost seemed like I wasn’t even having to do work. I was more like digging for treasure,” Olson said.
Most of the bowling balls don’t have finger holes and many are unpolished. But some are engraved with the Brunswick logo and labeled as “Black Beauty” or “Starline.” One polished ball with a blue and black swirl seemed to have no imperfections.
Olson theorizes the original homeowner, who built the house in 1959, “got a good deal” on the scrap bowling balls from the old Brunswick factory and “needed to fill a void.”
Muskegon County became a hub for bowling manufacturing when Brunswick Bowling Products brought its operation to the area in 1906. The iconic Muskegon plant produced bowling balls, pins and equipment for a century until production was moved to Mexico.
At the company’s height, Brunswick Bowling Products had 11 factories in town producing everything from toilet seats to truck tires to bowling alley equipment, according to Kirk Bunke, site manager at the Muskegon Heritage Museum.
“It shows our industrial past and the innovation of the workers. They saw a waste product, came up with a use and way to improve the house with no out-of-pocket expense,” Bunke said.
It was an “extra perk,” Bunke said, for Brunswick employees to take and reuse products that didn’t meet sale quality, like repurposing bowling pins to make footstools.
“There’s probably thousands of other treasures waiting to be discovered like that,” he said.
Company relics like Brunswick’s 1962 bowling A2 pinsetter are on display at the museum.
Brunswick shut down the Muskegon plant in 2006. The industrial buildings at Laketon Avenue and Seaway Drive were demolished in May 2013.
Under the ownership of BlueArc Capital Management, a Brunswick corporate office remains at 525 W. Laketon Ave.
Olson, who was born at Hackley Hospital and raised in Muskegon, was “excited” to dig up the history. He said his grandfather worked at the Brunswick factory for about 50 years.
Olson’s grandmother encouraged him to document the discovery with a Facebook post that’s now been shared over 2,000 times.
Some of the bowling balls will be donated, but Olson plans to keep most as decorative edging in his yard.
“Wear it loud and proud,” he said. “Have the Brunswick symbols sitting up above ground so people can see them. If anything, it adds kind of a unique characteristic to the landscape.”
The bowling balls, made from non-hazardous materials, do not pose an environmental risk, according to Billy Orlikowski, director of product management at Brunswick Bowling Products.
A back patio at Olson’s house also has a “gridwork” of bowling balls underground.
“I’m assuming underneath the whole thing is full of those,” he said.