Mishigami...great water indeed!

Having grown up boating and enjoying the waters of Lake Michigan, I can truly say that the great lake has played a major role in shaping who I am. I thought it would be appropriate to give the lake some press here in my blog and introduce her to those who aren't familiar.  What follows is my brief background of Lake Michigan.

Around 18,000 years ago, the Laurentide glacier dominated the lanscape of northern North America, covering most of Canada and a good portion of the United States.  The glacier was 2.5 miles thick at some points.  As the Earth's atmosphere began to warm, the Laurentide glacier started to melt and retreat northward.  The Earth's surface was scraped and scarred from the glacial movements, carving out the Great Lakes basin.  The meltwater from the retreating glacier slowly filled in the lakes. 

Perhaps the first people to enjoy the intrinsic values of Lake Michigan were the Hopwell Indians.  After the Hopwell tradition declined sometime after 800 A.D., the Late Woodland Indians called the upper midwest and the shores of Lake Michigan home.  Among the Late Woodland Indians were the Chippewa, sometimes referred to as the Ojibwa.  It is from the Ojibwa word "mishigami" meaning "great water" that the state and the Great Lake get their names.

Lake Michigan is the only Great Lake contained entirely within the United States.  Today Lake Michigan is the second largest of the Great Lakes by volume (1,180 cubic miles) and third largest by surface area (22,400 square miles).  The lake has an average depth of 279 feet and has a deepest depth of 925 feet.  Her length is 307 miles from north to south while her largest width is 118 miles from east to west.  If her massive size isn't enough to convince you that she is really an inland sea, consider that there have been more than 2,500 documented shipwrecks on Lake Michigan alone.  As placid and serene as her waters can be and often are, fierce storms with high winds and large, steep waves are not uncommon.


  1. Anonymous28 February

    What are the best sources for shipwreck and other ship info for 1896?

    Please write directly to me at:


    Jay Ingalls


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