19 Facts About Great Lakes


The Great Lakes Waterway enables modern travel and shipping by water among the lakes.

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Lake Michigan is the only one of the Great Lakes that is entirely within the United States; the others form a water boundary between the United States and Canada.

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Great Lakes have several peninsulas between them, including the Door Peninsula, the Peninsulas of Michigan, and the Ontario Peninsula.

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Great Lakes are connected by the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal to the Gulf of Mexico via the Illinois River and the Mississippi River.

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The process is only well-documented in the Great Lakes, and has been credited with sparing the southern shorelines from worse rocky erosion.

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Great Lakes are estimated to have been formed at the end of the Last Glacial Period, when the Laurentide Ice Sheet receded.

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Great Lakes have a humid continental climate, Koppen climate classification Dfa and Dfb with varying influences from air masses from other regions including dry, cold Arctic systems, mild Pacific air masses from the west, and warm, wet tropical systems from the south and the Gulf of Mexico.

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Great Lakes can have an effect on regional weather called lake-effect snow, which is sometimes very localized.

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Great Lakes tend to moderate seasonal temperatures to some degree but not with as large an influence as do large oceans; they absorb heat and cool the air in summer, then slowly radiate that heat in autumn.

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Great Lakes have been observed to help intensify storms, such as Hurricane Hazel in 1954, and the 2011 Goderich, Ontario tornado, which moved onshore as a tornadic waterspout.

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Introductions into the Great Lakes include the zebra mussel, which was first discovered in 1988, and quagga mussel in 1989.

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The peoples of the Great Lakes traded with the Hopewell culture from around 1000 AD, as copper nuggets have been extracted from the region and fashioned into ornaments and weapons in the mounds of Southern Ohio.

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Since many immigrants settled for a time in New England before moving westward, many areas on the U S side of the Great Lakes have a New England feel, especially in home styles and accent.

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Today, the Great Lakes fleet is much smaller in numbers than it once was because of the increased use of overland freight, and a few larger ships replacing many small ones.

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Alan B McCullough has written that the fishing industry of the Great Lakes got its start "on the American side of Lake Ontario in Chaumont Bay, near the Maumee River on Lake Erie, and on the Detroit River at about the time of the War of 1812".

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Except when the water is frozen during winter, more than 100 lake freighters operate continuously on the Great Lakes, which remain a major water transport corridor for bulk goods.

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The Great Lakes Waterway connects all the lakes; the smaller Saint Lawrence Seaway connects the lakes to the Atlantic Ocean.

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Major ports on the Great Lakes include Duluth-Superior, Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, Twin Harbors, Hamilton and Thunder Bay.

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

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