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The Strange and Wondrous Great Lakes

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The Strange and Wondrous Great Lakes

If the water in the Great Lakes were released, it would cover the entire 48 U.S. states in 9.5 feet of water, or the North American continent in 3.4 feet of water—or, the entire of North and South America in 1 foot of water! Whoa!

In short, there’s a lot of fresh water in Lake Huron, Lake Ontario, Lake Michigan, Lake Erie, and Lake Superior. The Great Lakes is the largest system of freshwater in the world with more than 90,000 square miles of surface area. That equals 6 quadrillion gallons of water.

While the obvious feature is the freshwater, consider the land. Eight states surround the Great Lakes: Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania, and New York. Lake Michigan is entirely in the U.S., and the other lakes border Canada totaling more than 10,000 miles of coastline. 

As one of the Greatest Natural Wonders of America, the Great Lakes are a definite Bucket List destination.

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Here are a multitude of strange and wondrous Great Lakes’ facts and lore: 

  • Interconnected by rivers and streams
  • Thousands of smaller inland lakes
  • Over 35,000 islands
  • Famous hotel on Mackinac Island: The Grand Hotel
  • Nicknamed: HOMES (Huron Ontario Michigan Erie Superior)
  • Currently 20 Native American tribes
  • 10% of the U.S. population live in Great Lakes basin
  • 90% of fresh water in U.S.
  • Lake Superior is largest — 31,700 square miles surface area
  • Deepest point — 1,330 feet (taller than Empire State Building)
  • Lake Michigan — Most shoreline at 62%
  • 139 fish species
  • 30 species of amphibians 
  • 13 species of toads and frogs

Great Lakes & Mackinac Island

  • Mammals — moose, beaver, gray wolf, Canadian lynx, little brown bat, river otter, coyote
  • Suggested 100 million lake trout in Lake Superior
  • Lake Erie — rumored monster called Bessie, who’s 30-40 feet long. First sighting: 1793
  • Pollution — more than 22 million pounds of plastic pollution each year
  • Smallest – Lake Erie
  • Lake St. Clair in Erie basin — largest freshwater delta in U.S.
  • In their depths — clear sterile water at a steady temperature of 40 degrees F
  • Ontario— Iroquois, lake of shining waters
  • Superior — French, upper lake
  • Michigan — Ojibwa, large lake
  • Huron — French, the freshwater sea
  • Erie —Iroquois, long tail

What strange things have been found at the bottom of the Great Lakes?

  • 1910 locomotive steam engine
  • “Unmodified” collection of Nash Automobiles in the world – shipwreck! 1929
  • Lake Michigan’s “Stonehenge” — thought to be assembled by Indigenous people during last Ice Age when the lake was dry
  • Lake Huron — Ancient Hunting Camp
  • Lake Michigan — Rare WWII Fighter Planes: US Navy trained pilots with 120,000 successful landings….128 losses and 200 accidents
  • WWI German U-Boat —1921 US Navy gunboat sunk the UC-97submarine in 200 feet of water
  • 11 Foot Italian-made Marble Crucifix — life-size Jesus on a cross…Wyandotte Diving Club used it to commemorate a diver who’d died diving. 1200 feet off shore Lake Michigan for divers to enjoy.
  • Old Whitey — preserved cargo vessel USS Kamloops: sunk in 1927 and lost for 50 years. Divers discovered it. Lifesavers candy still in packaging, faucets that still turned…and corpses. Engine Steward Whitey still remains preserved by the icy waters. One of many wo down with the ship.
  • 7 Room Fully Furnished House — Moved across a 4-mile ice road. Sunk at 4 mile mark
  • Canadian Model Airplanes — In the 1950s, the Royal Canadian Air Force tested the “delta wing” design at Mach 1 and 2 speeds.


Related BNT Tours:

Great Lakes & Mackinac Island

Mackinac Island & Thunder Bay Resort

Wisconsin Dells


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