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Lake Huron ( ) is one of the five Great Lakesmarker of North America. It is bounded on the east by Ontariomarker, Canada and on the west by Michiganmarker, USA. The name of the lake is derived from early French explorers who named it based on the Huron people inhabiting the region.


Lake Huron is the second largest of the Great Lakes, with a surface area of 59,596 km2 (23,010 sq mi) making it the third largest fresh water lake on earth (fourth largest lake if the saline Caspian Seamarker is included). It contains a volume of 3,540 km3 (850 cubic miles), and a shoreline length of 3,827 mi (6,157 km).

The surface of Lake Huron is 577 ft (176 m) above sea level. The lake's average depth is 195 ft (59 m), while the maximum depth is 750 ft (229 m). It has a length of 206 mi (332 km) and a greatest breadth of 183 mi (245 km).

Important cities on Lake Huron include: Goderichmarker, Sarniamarker, Bay Citymarker, Alpenamarker, Rogers Citymarker, Cheboyganmarker, St. Ignacemarker, and Port Huronmarker.

A notable feature of the lake is Manitoulin Islandmarker, which separates the North Channelmarker and Georgian Baymarker from Lake Huron's main body of water. It is the world's largest freshwater island.

Water Levels

Historic High WaterThe lake fluctuates from month to month with the highest lake levels in October and November. The normal highwater mark is above datum (577.5 ft or 176.0 meters). In the summer of 1986, Lakes Michigan and Huron reached their highest level at above datum.Monthly bulletin of Lake Levels for The Great Lakes; September 2009; US Army Corps of Engineers, Detroit District The high water records began in February 1986 and lasted through the year, ending with January 1987. Water levels ranged from to above Chart Datum.

Historic Low WaterLake levels tend to be the lowest in winter. The normal lowwater mark is below datum (577.5 ft or 176.0 meters). In the winter of 1964, Lakes Michigan and Huron reached their lowest level at below datum. As with the highwater records, monthly low water records were set each month from February 1964 through January 1965. During this twelve month period water levels ranged from to below Chart Datum.

Great Lakes Circle Tour

The Great Lakes Circle Tour is a designated scenic road system connecting all of the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River.


Lake Huron is separated from Lake Michiganmarker, which lies at the same level, by the narrow Straits of Mackinacmarker, making them geologically and hydrologically the same body of water (sometimes called Lake Michigan-Huron). Lake Superiormarker is slightly higher than both. It drains into the St. Marys Rivermarker at Sault Ste. Marie which then flows southward into Lake Huron. The water then flows south to the St. Clair Rivermarker, at Port Huron, Michiganmarker and Sarnia, Ontariomarker.

The Great Lakes Waterway continues thence to Lake St. Clairmarker; the Detroit River and Detroit, Michiganmarker; into Lake Eriemarker and thence – via Lake Ontariomarker and the St. Lawrence Rivermarker – to the Atlantic Ocean.

Like the other Great Lakes, it was formed by melting ice as the continental glaciers retreated toward the end of the last ice age. Before this, Lake Huron was a low-lying depression through which flowed the now-buried Laurentian and Huronian Rivers; the lake bed was criss-crossed by a large network of tributaries to these ancient waterways, with many of the old channels still evident on bathymetric maps.


The French, the first European visitors to the region, often referred to Lake Huron as La Mer Douce, "the fresh-water sea". In 1656, a map by French cartographer Nicolas Sanson, refers to the lake as Karegnondi, a Wendat word which has been variously translated as "Freshwater Sea", "Lake of the Hurons", or simply "lake".

The lake was generally labeled "Lac des Hurons" (Lake of the Huron) on most early European maps.

Storm of 1913

Ipperwash Beach, Lake Huron

On November 9, 1913, a great storm in Lake Huron sank ten ships and more than twenty were driven ashore. The storm, which raged for 16 hours, killed 235 seamen.

The Matoa had passed between Port Huron, Michiganmarker and Sarnia, Ontariomarker just after midnight. On the 9th, just after six in the morning, the Senator pushed upstream. Less than an hour later, the Manola passed through. Captain Frederick W. Light of the Manola reported that both the Canadian and the American weather stations had storm flag signals flying from their weather towers. Following behind at 7:00 a.m. that Sunday, the Regina steamed out of Sarnia into the northwest gale. The warnings now had been up for four hours. The Manola passed the Regina off Port Sanilac, 22 miles up the lake. Captain Light determined that if it continued to deteriorate, he would seek shelter at Harbor Beach, Michiganmarker, another 30 miles up the lake. There, he could seek shelter behind the breakwater. Before reaching Harbor Beach, the winds turned to the northeast and the lake began to rise. It would be noon before he reached Harbor Beach and ran for shelter. The waves were so violent that the Manola touched bottom entering the harbor. With help from a tug, the Manola tied up to the break wall with eight lines. It was about 3:00 p.m. when the Manola was secured and the crew prepared to drop anchor. As they worked, the cables began to snap from wind pressure against the hull. To keep from being pushed aground, they kept their bow into the wind with the engines running half to full in turns, yet the ship still drifted 800 feet before its movement was arrested. Waves breaking over the ship damaged several windows and the crew reported seeing portions of the concrete break wall peeling off as the waves struck it.

Meanwhile, fifty miles further up the lake, the Matoa, and Captain Hugh McLeod had to ride out the storm without a safe harbor The Matoa would be found stranded on the Port Austinmarker reef when the winds subsided. It was noon on Monday before the winds let up and not until 11:00 p.m. that night before Capt. Light determined it to be safe to continue his journey.


See also: Shipwrecks in the Great Lakes

More than a thousand wrecks have been recorded in Lake Huron. These purportedly include the first European vessel to sail the Great Lakes, The Griffon built in 1679 on the eastern shore of Lake Eriemarker, near Buffalo, New Yorkmarker, Sieur de la Salle navigated across Lake Erie, up the Detroit River, Lake St. Clair and the St. Clair Rivermarker out into Lake Huron. Passing the Straits of Mackinacmarker, La Salle and the Griffon made land fall on Washington Island, off the tip of the Door Peninsula on the Wisconsin side of Lake Michigan. Here, La Salle filled the Griffon with pelts and in late November 1679 sent the Griffon back to the site of modern day Buffalo, never to be seen again.

Two wrecks have been identified as the Griffon, although neither has gained final verification as the actual wreck. Blown by a fierce storm after leaving, the Griffon ran aground before the storm. The people of Manitoulin Islandmarker say that the wreck in Mississagi Straits at the western tip of the island is that of the Griffon. Meanwhile, others near Tobermorymarker say that the wreck on Russell Island, 150 miles further east in Georgian Baymarker is that of the Griffin.

Saginaw Bay

185 of 1000+ wrecks are within the waters of Saginaw Bay.

Matoa, A propeller freighter, 2,311 gross tons, built 1890, Cleveland, wrecked, 1913, Port Austin Reef

Georgian Bay, North Channel

Georgian Baymarker, which is the largest bay on Lake Huron, contains the most wrecks in Lake Huron, of the 1000 sunk vessels, 212 lie here.

Manola, a propeller freighter of 2,325 gross tons. Built in 1890, by the Globe Shipping Company of Cleveland, Ohiomarker. Operated by the Minnesota Steamship Company (Cleveland) from 1890-1901, by the Pittsburgh Steamship Company from 1901-1918. On January 25, 1918, the Manola was sold to the U.S. Shipping Board. It was sold again in 1920 to the Canada Steamship Lines, Ltd and renamed the Mapledawn. It became stranded on November 20, 1924 on Christian Island in Georgian Bay. It was headed for Port McNichol, Ontario. It was declared a total loss after two weeks. Salvagers were able to recover c.75,000 bushels of barley for delivery to Midland, Ontariomarker.

File:P7050019_Tawas_Point_SP_(E_Tawas_Mich).jpg|View from the Lake Huron from East Tawas State Park at the head of Saginaw Bay.File:Harrisville Beach near State Park - Lake Huron.jpg|Harrisville Beach on Lake HuronFile:Lake Huron from Upper Peninsula.JPG|View of rocky shore of Lake Huron from east of Port Dolomite, Michigan in the upper peninsula.


Lake Huron has a lake retention time of 22 years.

Like all of the Great Lakes, the ecology of Lake Huron has undergone drastic changes in the last century. The lake originally supported a native deepwater fish community dominated by lake trout, which fed on a number of deepwater ciscos as well as sculpins and other native fishes. Several invasive species, including sea lamprey, alewife and rainbow smelt, became abundant in the lake by the 1930s. The major native top predator, lake trout, were virtually extirpated from the lake by 1950 due to a combination of overfishing and the effects of sea lamprey. Several species of deepwater ciscos were also extirpated from the lake by the 1960s; the only remaining native deepwater cisco is the bloater. Nonnative Pacific salmon have been stocked in the lake since the 1960s, and lake trout have also been stocked in an attempt to rehabilitate the species, although little natural reproduction of stocked trout has been observed.

Lake Huron has suffered recently due the introduction of a variety of new invasive species, including zebra and quagga mussels, the spiny water flea, and round gobies. The deepwater demersal fish community of the lake was in a state of collapse by 2006, and a number of drastic changes have been observed in the zooplankton community of the lake. Chinook salmon catches have also been greatly reduced in recent years, and lake whitefish have become less abundant and are in poor condition. These recent changes may be attributable to the new exotic species.

See also

Great Lakes in general


  1. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation website Seven Wonders of Canada-Manitoulin Island, Ontario Retrieved on 10/05/09.
  2. Great Lakes Circle Tour.
  3. True Tales of the Great Lakes, by Dwight Boyer; p212
  4. True Tales of the Great Lakes, by Dwight Boyer; p266
  5. True Tales of the Great Lakes, by Dwight Boyer; p268
  6. Freshwater Fury by Frank Barcus, pg 72
  7. True Tales of the Great Lakes, by Dwight Boyer, pg 269
  8. True Tales of the Great Lakes, by Dwight Boyer, pg 272,3
  9. Shipwrecks of Lake Huron . . . The Great Sweetwater Sea, Jack Parker, Avery Color Studios, Au Train, Michigan, 1986, pg 56
  10. Freshwater Fury by Frank Barcus, pg 73
  11. Shipwrecks of Lake Huron . . . The Great Sweetwater Sea, Jack Parker, Avery Color Studios, Au Train, Michigan, 1986, pg 25-6
  12. Shipwrecks of Lake Huron . . . The Great Sweetwater Sea, Jack Parker, Avery Color Studios, Au Train, Michigan, 1986, pg 50-61
  13. Shipwrecks of Lake Huron . . . The Great Sweetwater Sea, Jack Parker, Avery Color Studios, Au Train, Michigan, 1986, pg 56
  14. Shipwrecks of Lake Huron . . . The Great Sweetwater Sea, Jack Parker, Avery Color Studios, Au Train, Michigan, 1986, pg 65-77
  15. Shipwrecks of Lake Huron . . . The Great Sweetwater Sea, Jack Parker, Avery Color Studios, Au Train, Michigan, 1986, pg 71
  16. Great Lakes Vessels Index; Historical Collections of the Great Lakes; Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio
  17. Riley, S. C. et al. 2008. "Deepwater demersal fish community collapse in Lake Huron". Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 137: 1879-1880.
  18. Barbiero, R. P. et al. 2009. "Recent shifts in the crustacean zooplankton community of Lake Huron". Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 66: 816-828.

Further reading

  • Hyde, Charles K., and Ann and John Mahan. The Northern Lights: Lighthouses of the Upper Great Lakes. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1995. ISBN 0814325548 ISBN 9780814325544.
  • Oleszewski, Wes, Great Lakes Lighthouses, American and Canadian: A Comprehensive Directory/Guide to Great Lakes Lighthouses, (Gwinn, Michigan: Avery Color Studios, Inc., 1998) ISBN 0-932212-98-0.
  • Penrod, John, Lighthouses of Michigan, (Berrien Center, Michigan: Penrod/Hiawatha, 1998) ISBN 9780942618785 ISBN 9781893624238.
  • Penrose, Laurie and Bill, A Traveler’s Guide to 116 Michigan Lighthouses (Petoskey, Michigan: Friede Publications, 1999). ISBN 0923756035 ISBN 9780923756031
  • Wagner, John L., Michigan Lighthouses: An Aerial Photographic Perspective, (East Lansing, Michigan: John L. Wagner, 1998) ISBN 1880311011 ISBN 9781880311011.
  • Wright, Larry and Wright, Patricia, Great Lakes Lighthouses Encyclopedia Hardback (Erin: Boston Mills Press, 2006) ISBN 1550463993

External links


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