Lake Huron is one of the five Great Lakes of North America. Hydrologically, it comprises the easterly portion of Lake Michigan–Huron, having the same surface elevation as its westerly counterpart, to which it is connected by the 5-mile-wide (8.0 km), 20-fathom-deep (120 ft; 37 m) Straits of Mackinac. It is shared on the north and east by the Canadian province of Ontario and on the south and west by the state of Michigan in the United States. The name of the lake is derived from early French explorers who named it for the Huron people inhabiting the region. The Huronian glaciation was named due to evidence collected from Lake Huron region. The northern parts of the lake include the North Channel and Georgian Bay. Across the lake to the southwest is Saginaw Bay. The main inlet is the St. Marys River, and the main outlet is the St. Clair River.
Lake Huron shorelines
Map of Lake Huron and the other Great Lakes
|Primary inflows||Straits of Mackinac, St. Marys River|
|Primary outflows||St. Clair River|
|Catchment area||51,700 sq mi (134,100 km2)|
|Basin countries||United States, Canada|
|Max. length||206 mi (332 km)|
|Max. width||183 mi (295 km)|
|Surface area||23,007 sq mi (59,588 km2)|
|Average depth||195 ft (59 m)|
|Max. depth||750 ft (229 m)|
|Water volume||850 cu mi (3,543 km3)|
|Residence time||22 years|
|Shore length1||1,850 mi (2,980 km) plus 1,980 mi (3,190 km) for islands|
|Surface elevation||577 ft (176 m)|
|Sections/sub-basins||Georgian Bay, North Channel|
|Settlements||Bay City, Alpena, Cheboygan, St. Ignace, Port Huron in Michigan; Goderich, Sarnia in Ontario|
|1 Shore length is not a well-defined measure.|
By surface area, Lake Huron is the second-largest of the Great Lakes, with a surface area of 23,007 square miles (59,590 km2) – of which 9,103 square miles (23,580 km2) lies in Michigan; and 13,904 square miles (36,010 km2) lies in Ontario – making it the third-largest fresh water lake on Earth (or the fourth-largest lake, if the Caspian Sea is counted as a lake). By volume however, Lake Huron is only the third largest of the Great Lakes, being surpassed by Lake Michigan and Lake Superior. When measured at the low water datum, the lake contains a volume of 850 cubic miles (3,500 km3) and a shoreline length (including islands) of 3,827 mi (6,159 km).
The surface of Lake Huron is 577 feet (176 m) above sea level. The lake's average depth is 32 fathoms 3 feet (195 ft (59 m)), while the maximum depth is 125 fathoms (750 ft (230 m)). It has a length of 206 statute miles (332 km; 179 nmi) and a greatest breadth of 183 statute miles (295 km; 159 nmi).
A large bay that protrudes northeast from Lake Huron into Ontario, Canada, is called Georgian Bay. A notable feature of the lake is Manitoulin Island, which separates the North Channel and Georgian Bay from Lake Huron's main body of water. It is the world's largest lake island. Major centres on Georgian Bay include Owen Sound, Wasaga Beach, Collingwood, Midland, Penetanguishene, Port Severn and Parry Sound.
A smaller bay that protrudes southwest from Lake Huron into Michigan is called Saginaw Bay.
Historic High Water The lake fluctuates from month to month with the highest lake levels in October and November. The normal high-water mark is 2.00 feet (0.61 m) above datum (577.5 ft or 176.0 m). In the summer of 1986, Lakes Michigan and Huron reached their highest level at 5.92 feet (1.80 m) above datum. The high-water records began in February 1986 and lasted through the year, ending with January 1987. Water levels ranged from 3.67 to 5.92 feet (1.12–1.80 m) above Chart Datum.
Historic Low Water Lake levels tend to be the lowest in winter. The normal low-water mark is 1.00 foot (30 cm) below datum (577.5 ft or 176.0 m). In the winter of 1964, Lakes Michigan and Huron reached their lowest level at 1.38 feet (42 cm) below datum. As with the high-water records, monthly low-water records were set each month from February 1964 through January 1965. During this twelve-month period, water levels ranged from 1.38 to 0.71 feet (42–22 cm) below Chart Datum.
Great Lakes Circle Tour
The Great Lakes Circle Tour is a designated scenic road system connecting all the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River.
Lake Huron is separated from Lake Michigan, which lies at the same level, by the 5-mile-wide (8.0 km), 20-fathom-deep (120 ft; 37 m) Straits of Mackinac, making them hydrologically the same body of water (sometimes called Lake Michigan-Huron and sometimes described as two 'lobes of the same lake'). Aggregated, Lake Huron-Michigan, at 45,300 square miles (117,000 km2), "is technically the world's largest freshwater lake." When counted separately, Lake Superior is 8,700 square miles (23,000 km2) larger than Huron and higher. Lake Superior drains into the St. Marys River which then flows southward into Lake Huron. The water then flows south to the St. Clair River, at Port Huron, Michigan and Sarnia, Ontario.
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 Alpena-Amberley Ridge is an ancient ridge beneath the surface of Lake Huron, running roughly between Alpena, Michigan and Point Clark, Ontario. About 9,000 years ago, when water levels in Lake Huron were about 100 m (330 ft) below today's levels, the ridge was exposed and the land bridge was used as a migration route for large herds of caribou. Since 2008, archaeologists have discovered at least 60 stone constructions along the submerged ridge that are thought to have been used as hunting blinds by Paleo-Indians.
The extent of development among Eastern Woodlands Native American societies on the eve of European contact is indicated by the archaeological evidence of a town on or near Lake Huron that contained more than one hundred large structures housing a total population of between 4,000 and 6,000. 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 by the name Karegnondi, a Wyandot 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
Matoa had passed between Port Huron, Michigan, and Sarnia, Ontario, just after midnight. On November 9, just after six in the morning, Senator pushed upstream. Less than an hour later, Manola passed through. Captain Frederick W. Light of 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, Regina steamed out of Sarnia into the northwest gale. The warnings now had been up for four hours. Manola passed Regina off Port Sanilac, 22 statute miles (19 nmi; 35 km) up the lake. Captain Light determined that if it continued to deteriorate, he would seek shelter at Harbor Beach, Michigan, another 30 statute miles (26 nmi; 48 km) up the lake. There, he could seek shelter behind the breakwater. Before he reached 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 Manola touched bottom entering the harbor. With help from a tugboat, Manola tied up to the break wall with eight lines. It was about 3:00 p.m. when 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 (240 m) 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 farther up the lake, Matoa and Captain Hugh McLeod had to ride out the storm without a safe harbor. Matoa would be found stranded on the Port Austin 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 Captain Light determined it to be safe to continue his journey.
More than a thousand wrecks have been recorded in Lake Huron. These purportedly include the first European vessel to sail the Great Lakes, Le Griffon, built in 1679 on the eastern shore of Lake Erie, near Buffalo, New York. Robert Cavalier, Sieur de la Salle navigated across Lake Erie, up the Detroit River, Lake St. Clair and the St. Clair River out into Lake Huron. Passing the Straits of Mackinac, La Salle and Le Griffon made landfall on Washington Island, off the tip of the Door Peninsula on the Wisconsin side of Lake Michigan. Here, La Salle filled Le Griffon with pelts and in late November 1679 sent Le Griffon back to the site of modern-day Buffalo, never to be seen again.
Two wrecks have been identified as Le Griffon, although neither has gained final verification as the actual wreck. Blown by a fierce storm after leaving, Le Griffon ran aground before the storm. The people of Manitoulin Island say that the wreck in Mississagi Straits at the western tip of the island is that of Le Griffon. Meanwhile, others near Tobermory, say that the wreck on Russell Island, 150 miles (240 km) farther east in Georgian Bay is that of Le Griffon.
The 448-square-mile (1,160 km2) Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary and Underwater Preserve is home to 116 historically significant shipwrecks. It is the 13th National Marine Sanctuary designated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, established in 2000. Glass-bottom boat tours depart from Alpena, Michigan, providing tourists with views of some of the famous shipwrecks in Thunder Bay.
Within the waters of Saginaw Bay are 185 of 1,000+ wrecks. Matoa, a propeller freighter weighing 2,311 gross tons, was built in Cleveland in 1890, and was wrecked in 1913 on Port Austin Reef.
Georgian Bay, North Channel
Manola, a propeller freighter of 2,325 gross tons, was built in 1890 by the Globe Shipping Company of Cleveland, Ohio. It was operated by the Minnesota Steamship Company (Cleveland) from 1890 to 1901, and by the Pittsburgh Steamship Company from 1901 to 1918. On January 25, 1918, Manola was sold to the U.S. Shipping Board. It was sold again in 1920 to the Canada Steamship Lines, Ltd., and renamed Mapledawn. The vessel became stranded on November 20, 1924, on Christian Island in Georgian Bay. Headed for Port McNichol, Ontario, it was declared a total loss after two weeks. Salvagers were able to recover approximately 75,000 bushels of barley for delivery to Midland, Ontario.
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.
- Drummond Island
- Hurricane Huron
- Les Cheneaux Islands
- Mackinac Island
- Manitoulin Island
- Mackinac Falls
- Michigan lighthouses
- Shipwrecks of the 1913 Great Lakes storm and List of victims of the 1913 Great Lakes storm
Great Lakes in general
- "Great Lakes Factsheet No. 1". U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. June 25, 2012. Retrieved March 6, 2014.
- Shorelines of the Great Lakes Archived 2015-04-05 at the Wayback Machine
- Wright, John W., ed. (2006). The New York Times Almanac (2007 ed.). New York, New York: Penguin Books. p. 64. ISBN 0-14-303820-6.
- Annin, Peter (2006). The Great Lakes Water Wars. Island Press. p. 15. ISBN 978-1-55963-087-0.
- "Seven Wonders of Canada-Manitoulin Island, Ontario". CBC.ca. Retrieved 8 October 2016.
- National Geophysical Data Center, 1999. Bathymetry of Lake Erie and Lake Saint Clair. National Geophysical Data Center, NOAA. doi:10.7289/V5KS6PHK [access date: 2015-03-23]. (only small portion of this map)
- National Geophysical Data Center, 1999. Bathymetry of Lake Huron. National Geophysical Data Center, NOAA. doi:10.7289/V5G15XS5 [access date: 2015-03-23].
- National Geophysical Data Center, 1996. Bathymetry of Lake Michigan. National Geophysical Data Center, NOAA. doi:10.7289/V5B85627 [access date: 2015-03-23]. (only small portion of this map)
- National Geophysical Data Center, 1999. Bathymetry of Lake Ontario. National Geophysical Data Center, NOAA. doi:10.7289/V56H4FBH [access date: 2015-03-23]. (only small portion of this map)
- National Geophysical Data Center, 1999. Bathymetry of Lake Superior. National Geophysical Data Center, NOAA. [access date: 2015-03-23].
(the general reference to NGDC because this lake was never published, compilation of Great Lakes Bathymetry at NGDC has been suspended). (only small portion of this map)
- National Geophysical Data Center, 1999. Global Land One-kilometer Base Elevation (GLOBE) v.1. Hastings, D. and P.K. Dunbar. National Geophysical Data Center, NOAA. doi:10.7289/V52R3PMS [access date: 2015-03-16].
- "About Our Great Lakes: Tour". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) - Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory (GLERL). Archived from the original on 5 May 2011. Retrieved 2 April 2015. Google Earth Great Lakes Tour GreatLakesTour_Merged.kmz Archived 2015-01-05 at the Wayback Machine
- Monthly bulletin of Lake Levels for The Great Lakes; September 2009; U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Detroit District
- "Great Lakes Circle Tour". great-lakes.net. Retrieved 8 October 2016.
- "Great Lakes Map". Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment. Retrieved February 19, 2011.
- Weber, Bob (29 April 2014). "Prehistoric Stone Walls Found Under Lake Huron". CTV News. The Canadian Press. Retrieved 8 October 2016.
- Nash, Gary B. Red, White and Black: The Peoples of Early North America Los Angeles 2015. Chapter 1, p. 8
- Sioui, Georges E. (1999). Huron-Wendat: The Heritage of the Circle. Translated by Brierley, Jane. UBC Press. ISBN 9780774807159.
- Fonger, Ron (May 3, 2007). "Genesee, Oakland counties adopt historic name for water group". The Flint Journal. Retrieved 6 December 2011.
- True Tales of the Great Lakes, by Dwight Boyer; p. 212
- True Tales of the Great Lakes, by Dwight Boyer; p. 266
- True Tales of the Great Lakes, by Dwight Boyer; p. 268
- Freshwater Fury by Frank Barcus, p. 72
- True Tales of the Great Lakes, by Dwight Boyer, p. 269
- True Tales of the Great Lakes, by Dwight Boyer, pp. 272-73
- Shipwrecks of Lake Huron . . . The Great Sweetwater Sea, Jack Parker, Avery Color Studios, Au Train, Michigan, 1986, p. 56
- Freshwater Fury by Frank Barcus, p. 73
- Thorne, Blake (October 27, 2010). "Karegnondi Water Authority sets course for cutting ties with Detroit water". Flint Journal. Retrieved 6 December 2011.
- Fonger, Ron (October 23, 2010). "Years in the making, Karegnondi Water Authority is ready to set new course for water". Flint Journal. Retrieved 6 December 2011.
- Allen, Durward L. (September 1959). "Lasalle's Griffin?". Boys' Life. Boy Scouts of America. pp. 19, 76–77.
- The Mississagi L(i)ghthouse © 2006/2010 Archived 2013-07-12 at the Wayback Machine. Themississagilighthouse.com. Retrieved on 2013-07-12.
- The Griffon - First Ghost Ship on the Great Lakes Archived 2009-06-23 at the Wayback Machine. Michigansotherside.com. Retrieved on 2013-07-12.
- Shipwrecks of Lake Huron . . . The Great Sweetwater Sea, Jack Parker, Avery Color Studios, Au Train, Michigan, 1986, pp. 25-26
- "About Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary". Retrieved 5 November 2014.
- Shipwrecks of Lake Huron . . . The Great Sweetwater Sea, Jack Parker, Avery Color Studios, Au Train, Michigan, 1986, pp. 50-61
- Shipwrecks of Lake Huron . . . The Great Sweetwater Sea, Jack Parker, Avery Color Studios, Au Train, Michigan, 1986, p. 56
- Shipwrecks of Lake Huron . . . The Great Sweetwater Sea, Jack Parker, Avery Color Studios, Au Train, Michigan, 1986, pp. 65-77
- Shipwrecks of Lake Huron . . . The Great Sweetwater Sea, Jack Parker, Avery Color Studios, Au Train, Michigan, 1986, p. 71
- Great Lakes Vessels Index; Historical Collections of the Great Lakes; Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio
- Riley, S. C. et al. 2008. "Deepwater demersal fish community collapse in Lake Huron". Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 137: 1879-1880.
- 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.
Media related to Lake Huron at Wikimedia Commons Geographic data related to Lake Huron at OpenStreetMap
- NOAA chart #14860 (Lake Huron)
- EPA's Great Lakes Atlas
- Fish Species of Lake Huron
- Great Lakes Coast Watch
- Lake Huron Binational Partnership Action Plan
- Lake Huron Data
- Lake Huron GIS
- Michigan DNR map of Lake Huron
- Bathymetry of Lake Huron
- In the Depths of Lake Huron, Secrets of an Ancient Sea
- U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Lake Huron