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The Great Lakes: Magnificent!

Bear Up North

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Before jump-starting this new thread I searched the archives for a definitive Great Lakes thread. There were a few that touched on specific Great Lakes issues or communities, but no actual thread that sings the praises of this wonderful and magnificent area.

Those of us who have lived or still live in the Great Lakes region are often aware of the area's beauty, riches, agricultural bounty, industrial might, powerful cities, and clean fresh water. We also know of the spoiling of some of that beauty, the stolen riches, the rust-belt problems, decaying cities, and water that we polluted.

For better or for worse, and as a treasure-trove of information on one (1) of the best dang places on the third planet from the sun, I present the first installment of "The Great Lakes". Feel free to jump in the water and join me.....

Some Sizing Is In Order.....The Great Lakes (Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, Ontario) have more than 10,000 miles of shoreline. It is the largest collection of fresh water in the world. The lakes consist of more than 94,000 square miles of surface water, with a drainage area of over 201,000 square miles.

Lake Superior, the largest and deepest and coldest of the lakes has a spot that is 1332 feet deep. These lakes hold 21% of the world's fresh surface water. These lakes hold 84% of North America's fresh surface water.

Cities & Population.....The Great Lakes area has about 10% of the US population and about 31% of the Canadian population. America's "second city", Chicago, is on Lake Michigan. Other large Lake Michigan cities include Milwaukee and Green Bay. Up on cold Lake Superior, twin cities are the norm.....with former Ontario twin cities joined to form Thunder Bay, Duluth-Superior, and Sault Ste. Marie (Ontario and Michigan).

Detroit is on the Detroit River between Lake Huron and Lake Erie. On Lake Erie, Toledo, Cleveland, and Buffalo line the shore. Lake Ontario has Canadian giant Toronto and a very-close-to-the-lake Rochester, NY.

Industrial Giant & Rustbelt Woes.....The Great Lakes region is the home of one of the world's largest concentrations of industry. Steel, automobiles, automobile parts, furniture, glass, appliances, beer.....what an incredible line-up of industry.

In manufacturing, 46% of the USA's Top 500 manufacturing company headquarters are located in Great Lakes states.

But with the giant and not-so-giant factories came unions (establishing the American middle-class but, IMHO, going way too far to protect those that are lazy) and pollution. The Great Lakes has a huge collection of coal-fired electrical power plants, many large cities that are not in compliance with EPA regulations that were enacted years ago, and a history of some scary "local" pollution horror stories. ("The Cuyahoga River.....look, it's on fire!")

Oddly enough, the large cities that are in Great Lakes states but NOT located directly on the lakes are doing very well.....Columbus, OH.....Indianapolis, IN.....Grand Rapids, MI.....Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN. Many of the cities actually on the lakes are struggling.

Education.....What an incredible list of top-notch schools, located on or near the Great Lakes.....Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Purdue, Notre Dame, Northwestern, Illinois, Minnesota, Case-Western Reserve, Ohio State, Indiana, DePaul.

Walleye, Perch, Salmon, Oh My........The Great Lakes offer some of the best fishing in the world. Michigan's salmon fishery is one (1) of the best in the world. Lake Erie is the Walleye Capitol of the World. Smallmouth bass fishing in Lake Erie (by the western basin's islands) and in the rocky coves of northern Lake Michigan is superb. Largemouth bass and muskie fishing in Lake St. Clair, part of the Great Lakes "flow", is fantastic.

In 2001, Great Lakes anglers purchased 27,913 fishing licenses. Michigan leads the nation in registered boats. Nothing fishy about this sport in this region!

History.....Years ago, surveyors drove a shiner into the ground at Defiance, OH.....on the Maumee River, the largest river feeding into the Great Lakes. That marker set the township lines that were used in all of the great Northwest Territory.
The states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota were established.

Many important battles were fought in the Great Lakes area, leading to the present-day boundaries of Canda and the US. As the young countries grew and prospered, the Great Lakes became the location for industry, invention, statesmen, mining, and creativity. ("Oh, those Rockefellers!")

Culture.....The Great Lakes gave the world some of the best in culture. Some of the world's best museums are on the shores. The zoos of the Great Lakes are the most-complete in the world. The term "rock and roll" was coined in Cleveland, OH. Turn on your radio and you will hear the Great Lakes: The Cleveland Orchestra, Eminem, Bob Seger, Buddy Guy, Bob Dylan, Boston (!), The Goo Goo Dolls, Pat Benatar, Michael Jackson, Ted Nugent, The White Stripes, Stevie Wonder, The Temptations, The Dells, etc. etc. etc.

The Great Lakes also gave us the folks who said "Cheeseburger-cheesburger!". And cheese-heads. And Cheesehaven. And the Wisconsin Dells. And the largest single collection of roller coasters in the world, at Cedar Point, OH.
And a minor-league baseball team with the name Mud Hens (Toledo).

Of Frozen Tundra & Other Sporty Stuff.....The sports world did not take a back seat in the Great Lakes. In college football the list of national powers from the region is almost endless. In professional football, numerous Super Bowls and NFL Championships were won by teams from Green Bay, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Cleveland, and Detroit. Green Bay's Packers gave us the term "frozen tundra".
NFL pros are honored just south of Cleveland, at the Hall Of Fame (Canton, OH).

Three (3) of the original NHL hockey teams are from the Great Lakes: The Detroit Red Wings, Chicago Black Hawks, and Toronto Maple Leafs.

Jump In.....the water is fine! When you swim in the Great Lakes you are joining millions of others who use these incredible bodies of water for boating, fishing, ice skating, ice boating, water skiing, etc. Cottages line the shores of the four (4) southern lakes. Much of Lake Superior remains shoreline wilderness.

Up north, when you jump in, you are jumping in water that was also jumped in to by bears, moose, wolves, fox, bobcats, coyotes, badgers, wolverines, etc.

6000 Trillion Gallons.....yeap, the Great Lakes holds a lot of water. But it also holds incredible memories and moments for all of us who grew up and choose to live in this wonderful region.

Nostrovia!

Bear
 
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#2
Great thread Bear:b:. I'll have to comment more when I have the time, as I have grown up on Lake Erie, Lake Ontario, and the Erie Canal.

As for a fact: Lake Erie is the most densly populated Great Lake (or least I thought it used to be).
 

mendelman

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#3
Bear Up North said:
Before jump-starting this new thread..bear bear bear bear bear bear...who grew up and choose to live in this wonderful region.

Nostrovia!

Bear
Everything BUN said and more. I don't know if this is true for those of us who grewup with direct access to a Great Lake, but I definitely have a "favorite" Great Lake (though a bit biased) and it is Lake Huron. Granted, my hometown is on the shores of the lake, but I think it is the most dynamic of the 5.

Michigan is certainly the most typically picturesque with its wide sandy beaches and quaint towns, but is rather one dimensional. Huron is much more craggy and rocky with more varied environments for wildlife. It has more bays and more islands for off-shore exploration, especially on the Province of Ontario side around Georgian Bay.

Huron is larger in land area than Superior, cleaner than Erie, and...I guess....Ontario is just....there.

Obviously, the above is my completely subjective opinion, so dispute as you wish.

What is your "favorite" Great Lake?
 
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#4
I absolutely love the Western Shores of Lake Michigan. It has the best city in the world...Chicago. There is absolutely nothing like being in the city by the lake. Seeing the majestic morning sun beam off the rays through the glass windows of the Shedd Aquarium. Or being on a boat ride on a chilly day. Or taking a stroll through Grant Park. You can feel the cool lake breeze even for miles away on a warm summer day. And talk about the rare instances when we get Lake Effect snow...gotta love it!!

It's also a beautiful site up in Milwaukee, although it's a shame the city dumps its raw sewage into it.

Further northward in Sheboygan, Manitowoc, Two Rivers, and Algoma...it just gets more gorgeous. There's beautiful historic buildings combined with beautiful parkland all with the glorious lakefront in the background. I love to get out of the car in Manitowoc and see the lake and the seagulls always flying by. It's so peaceful.

And then there's Door County. Lake Michigan on one side and Green Bay on the other. Is this heaven for a Midwesterner or what? My family always vacations here...practically every year. Just driving up across that drawbridge in Sturgeon Bay...and you know you're there. Whether you prefer the many vintage shops with heavenly sunset backdrops on Green Bay, or the quieter serenity of Whitefish Dunes and Bailey's Harbor on the Lake Michigan side...it is to die for. And then, when you drive all the way up to the top to Gills Rock, the two come together and you have the whole Lake ahead of you. And then you can ferry to Washington Island. It's hard to realize you're so close to Escanaba, MI on the opposite shore.
 

mgk920

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#5
Those fresh-water inland seas are one of the things that makes life in the midwest so special. Back in the late 1980s/early 1990s, there was a possibility that an America's Cup defense might have even been held on fresh water, as the Chicago Yacht Club's entry was doing well in preliminary matches.

Some of the most expensive real estate in the USA is on the lakefront in Chicago.

Also, where else but a place like Chicago can you take a mass-transit/subway or commuter train into the downtown area while carrying fishing gear and not look silly, or walk a couple of blocks from your multi-million dollar high-rise condomini(m)um and go fishing. :)

BTW, the term 'Frozen Tundra' did not originate in Green Bay. It was the nickname of the field at Metropolitan Stadium when the Vikings played, until they abrogated it to Green Bay when they moved to that silly cream puff in downtown Minneapolis.

Mike
 
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#6
Of the two Great Lakes that I've seen, Michigan and Erie, I'll have to go with Lake Michigan. I've seen the lake from Chicago and from South Haven, MI. There's nothing like a stroll in Chicago along the lake in spring or fall.
 
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#7
Having lived within walking distance of two of these lakes, (Michigan and Superior) and visited all of them, I like Lake Superior Best.

On more than a few occasions when I was in college at NMU in Marquette, I would get up and ride up to 3rd Street Bagel for breakfast, and then take the long way back to my apartment or dorm. This would include doing into downtown. There is something about how Washington street seems to disappears into the blue waters of lake superior as the sun’s reflection glistens on the waves.

There were crazy nights when a big group of friends would go swimming right before big storms as the waves kicked up. Or sit on its shores by a raging bonfire, cold beer or hot chocolate, and a guy with a guitar playing along to the gentle rhythm created by the water lapping on the rocks. I will always remember on one of the anniversaries of the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald seeing the waves as they completely engulf the light house as the spray soaks the large group that gathered to witness the dark side of the lake they call Gitche Gumee.

In the summer the chilly waters provide a nice relief on hot, humid days, while providing for unlimited recreational actives in all the seasons, and provides for a postcard view for the numerous historic towns that dot it’s shores.
 

Maister

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#8
mendelman said:
What is your "favorite" Great Lake?
I feel strongly about the Great Lakes and look upon them as being the #1 best thing Michigan has to offer.
Youre right, each one has a particular character I find:

Superior - exudes the primordial forces of nature. Wild. Cold. Rocky. There's wilderness here to be discovered. Her wrath can erupt suddenly on a grey November morning. Waves can be seen crashing on her lonely shores while hiking, fishing, or snowmobiling.

Michigan - vacationland for the region. long sunny beaches dotted with small towns filled with ice cream shops near the shore and anodizing plants a quarter mile inland. While walking her friendly sunny shores familiarity and civilization peer over your shoulder and the Quickey-Mart is only a short walk away if you need to refill your cooler.

Huron - in many ways typifies everything the Great Lakes has to offer; wilderness, busy commercial ports, vast beaches, sportsman's paradise. Both the geographic and cultural heart to the Lakes.

Erie - civilization surrounds this lake and it always seems this shallow, warm lake is filled with both recreational and commercial boats and ships. Erie feels like a transportation hub and her busy shores are home to a number of old industrial ports.

Ontario - only been there once and don't feel qualified to wax poetic. Perhaps someone else can.
 
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#9
My favorite lakes are Huron and Michigan, more specifically, Tawas and Sleeping Bear. My favorite inland lake is Clear Lake in Ogemaw County. It is home of my rural forested recreational domicile.
 

jordanb

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One of my fantasies is to acquire a yacht and spend a year or so exploring the lakes.

One can dream...

Historical note: In 1959, QEII sailed her yacht through the newly opened St. Lawrence Seaway to Chicago and alighted in Grant Park in front of Buckingham Fountain, on a patch of land now known as "Queen's Landing."

Let’s turn this into a photo thread. Here are my entries

Howard St. Beach, Rogers Park, Chicago


Between Montrose Harbor and Lincoln Park, Chicago:







Oak Street Beach, Gold Coast, Chicago:




14th Street Beach, Northerly Island, Chicago:


Jackson Park Beach, Hyde Park, Chicago:


Ashbridge’s Park, Toronto:

Suburban Toronto:


(remember, no leaching!)
 
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What a wonderful idea for a thread.

I've lived on two Great Lakes (Michigan and Erie), and visited all five. In the spirit of Maister's post:

Lake Superior: Could a lake be more aptly named? Twice I visited Pictured Rocks, and I was amazed at the natural beauty and the overwhelming natural power of the area. The Lake Superior shore has got to be one of the wildest places remaining west of the Rockies.

Lake Michigan: I've seen very little of the north part of the lake, which I hear is quite different from the southern end. But the entire Midwest knows that the lake's towns and beaches are the playground for the region. Why don't more people know? I guess we'll keep that a secret.

Lake Huron: Probably has the fewest people living near it, except for Superior. I've never been to Maine, but I've always thought that the Lake Huron coast was very similar with its rockier beaches and woods that come right to the water.

Lake Erie: The commercial and industrial heart of the Great Lakes. Most people are familiar with its big cities (Cleveland, Toledo, Buffalo, and Detroit's close by), but there's a lot of recreational use on Erie, too. Cedar Point, Put-In-Bay, and Point Pelee on the Canadian side.

Lake Ontario: Has one of my all-time fave cities on it (Toronto). Funny thing -- Ontario feels a lot like a mixture of Erie and Huron.

Any Great Lake recollections?
 

mendelman

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#12
pete-rock said:
Any Great Lake recollections?
I remember one Easter before the end of undergrad, I went up to my hometown, Alpena, MI, to spend the time with my brother and (at the time) future sister-in-law (my parents had moved south to the Flint area about 1.5 years eariler).

Well, after my brother got off work the afternoon I arrived, he and I went for a short kayak trip from Squaw Bay (a smaller bay within the larger Thunder Bay). We kayaked about 1/4 mile out to Sulphur Island, which is bascially a shallow layer of dirt and scrub trees on an outcropping of shale.

It was one of those beautiful early Spring days that are sunny, but still a bit cool (~60F). We waded through the shallow (and now dry) Squaw Bay till we found a place to actually sit in our kayaks. Then we calmly, but steadily paddled ourselves across the cold, clear, and deep emerald green water (with a calm surface, you could see to the bottom). It was amazing.

A cross wind gently attempting to blow us off course, but no chance. We reach the island and I ram the kayak (best way to beach a kayak) on the island's shore, pull myself out and stand on the shore looking back west toward mainland. I marveled at the sheer calm and beauty of the Lake and sky with the sun just beginning it's slow setting into the west.

Understand, I had been living in Ann Arbor, MI for the preceding 2 years and, although Ann Arbor does have the very nice Huron River, I really missed the expanse and clarity I get from standing on the shore of Lake Huron.

As my brother and I stood on the samll island's shore looking back to where we launched, with the cars on US-23 visibily, but inaudibly, moving, I said to my brother, "This is such a beautiful place, I have really missed this."
 

Bear Up North

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#13
More From Bare Bear

Lottsa nice responses to this thread. Keep 'em coming. And in the spirit of pete-rock's "we'll keep it a secret" comment......attention those NOT from this area......just ignore this thread. Stay away. ;-)

My favorite Great Lake is Superior.

I grew up in the Toledo area and have spent most of my life playing on Lake Erie, fishing in this angler's paradise, and drinking in the taverns that line the shores and the islands.

For years I have camped and skinny-dipped on the northern shores of beautiful Lake Michigan. My fake city, De Noc, is on this blue lake.

But when I see and feel Lake Superior.....something happens.....and it is good. I get this feeling in my soul, telling me "This is where you belong." It is hard to describe. Maybe I can compare it with those of you who get "that feeling" when you are in the mountains, or in wine country, or in your favorite urban neighborhood.

My plan is retire to the Lake Superior area. Probably Marquette, because they have a Wal-Mart. :-c ;-) :-D :)

Bear On 41
 

JNA

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#14
My Great Lake experience is limited to Lake Michigan.

1. flying in and out of O'Hare taking you over the Chicago shoreline/skyline.
2. Indiana Dunes area, off season.
 

Bear Up North

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#16
Zoning Goddess said:
I've never been to any of them. Guess I've led a sheltered life...
Years ago, a friend.....originally from Memphis but he had relocated to Orlando.....came up to Toledo to visit. The first thing he wanted to see was Lake Erie. He was a bit disappointed because the view of Lake Erie from Toledo's north end (Point Place neighborhood) is not so special:

A treeless man-made island, industrial smokestacks and factory buildings everywhere, giant coal-loading structures. Toledo is actually much more a river town than a lake town. Downtown Toledo is located on the Maumee River, miles from Lake Erie's Maumee Bay.

If I would have taken him about twenty (20) miles east of Toledo he would have been treated to a body of water that you cannot see the other side (because it is sixty miles away) and looks like an ocean view. If it was a clear day and a calm lake he would see hundreds of small boats, a few miles off shore, fishing for walleye. He would have had a different perception of this lake called Erie.

Bear
 
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#17
Bear Up North said:
Years ago, a friend.....originally from Memphis but he had relocated to Orlando.....came up to Toledo to visit. The first thing he wanted to see was Lake Erie. He was a bit disappointed because the view of Lake Erie from Toledo's north end (Point Place neighborhood) is not so special:

A treeless man-made island, industrial smokestacks and factory buildings everywhere, giant coal-loading structures. Toledo is actually much more a river town than a lake town. Downtown Toledo is located on the Maumee River, miles from Lake Erie's Maumee Bay.

If I would have taken him about twenty (20) miles east of Toledo he would have been treated to a body of water that you cannot see the other side (because it is sixty miles away) and looks like an ocean view. If it was a clear day and a calm lake he would see hundreds of small boats, a few miles off shore, fishing for walleye. He would have had a different perception of this lake called Erie.

Bear
Hey, the Atlantic is pretty cool, too. I am close enough to go there any weekend.
 

mgk920

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#18
pete-rock said:
What a wonderful idea for a thread.

I've lived on two Great Lakes (Michigan and Erie), and visited all five. In the spirit of Maister's post:

Lake Michigan: I've seen very little of the north part of the lake, which I hear is quite different from the southern end. But the entire Midwest knows that the lake's towns and beaches are the playground for the region. Why don't more people know? I guess we'll keep that a secret.
I think that the biggest reason here is that Lake Michigan's water is *COLD!!!*
:)
Note that there are not a lot of people actually swimming in those beach photos and a normal part of summertime weather reports in the area is the phrase: "cooler near the lake". (In winter it is "warmer near the lake", Lake Michigan has a strong moderating effect on the local climate.)

Mike
 

jordanb

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#20
Rumpy Tunanator said:
The St. Lawerence River is something you should check out, expecially the Thousand Islands area. Great fishing.
I have a great pano of St. Lawrence at Quebec City that I need to stitch together. I can put up my photos of St. Lou from Montreal too.

Nobody else has any pictures? I want to see those rugged Superior and Huron coastlines, Mackinac, Buffalo, Cleveland, etc.

I also have Milwaukee and Indiana on film that I've never scanned. :-$

mgk920: The lake gets pretty warm near the end of summer around here. Actually it was fine (A *little* chilly, but my body got used to it quickly) a few weeks ago when I went swimming in it.
 
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