Interesting facts about Lake Erie

lake erie

Lake Erie is one of the five Great Lakes of North America.

Lake Erie touches four U.S. states — New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan — and the Canadian province of Ontario.

By surface area, Lake Erie is the fourth-largest of the Great Lakes, with a surface area of 25,667 square kilometers (9,910 square miles). It is the eleventh largest lake in the world if measured in terms of surface area.

By volume Lake Erie is the smallest of the Great Lakes with 484 cubic kilometers (116 cubic miles) of water.

Lake Erie is the shallowest of the Great Lakes. The lake’s average depth is 19 meters (62 feet), while the maximum depth is 64 meters (210 feet).

The surface of Lake Erie is 173 meters (569 feet) above sea level.

Lake Erie is about 388 kilometers (241 miles) long, about 92 kilometers (57 miles) wide at its widest.

lake erie from space

Lake Erie has over 26 islands. They include Kelleys Island, Pelee Island, the Bass Islands, and several others. Islands tend to be located in the western side of the lake.

It has about 1,402 kilometers (871 miles) of shoreline, including islands.

Lake Erie is dotted with beaches, some are sand and some are composed of small rocks.

lake erie beach

As the southernmost of the Great Lakes, the majority of Lake Erie’s water flows in through the Detroit River from the upper lakes — Lake Superior, Lake Michigan and Lake Huron — as well as tributaries such as the St. Clair River and Lake St. Clair.

The main natural outflow from the lake is via the Niagara River, which provides hydroelectric power to Canada and the U.S. as it spins huge turbines near Niagara Falls at Lewiston, New York and Queenston, Ontario.

Lake Erie has a retention time (the measurement of time that water spends in a particular lake) of 2.6 years, which is the shortest of the Great Lakes.

lake erie rainbow

Lake Erie is the warmest and most biologically productive of the Great Lakes.

Lake Erie is home to one of the largest commercial freshwater fisheries in the world. Lake Erie’s great fishery supports 10,000 jobs per year and boost the economies by over $1 billion annually.

lake erie fishing boat

Lake Erie is the Walleye Capital of the World – people come from all over the world to fish these waters.

More than 11 million people get their drinking water from Lake Erie.

Toxic and harmful algal bloom occurrences in Lake Erie pose risks to drinking supplies, quality of life and economic vitality.

lake erie algae bloom

Major cities along Lake Erie include Buffalo; Erie, Pennsylvania; Toledo, Ohio; Port Stanley, Ontario; Monroe, Michigan; Sandusky, Ohio; and Cleveland, Ohio.

The lake is dotted by distinct lighthouses. A lighthouse off the coast of Cleveland, beset with cold lake winter spray, has an unusual artistic icy shape, although sometimes ice prevents the light from being seen by maritime vessels.

lake erie lighthouse

On February 16, 2010, meteorologists reported that the lake had frozen over marking the first time the lake had completely frozen over since the winter of 1995–1996.

Due to its rich soil, the Lake Erie region has a large concentration of concord grapes. The Lake Erie Concord Grape Belt is the largest viticultural area in North America outside of California, encompassing around 12,000 hectares (30,000 acres) swath of grapes that runs the length of eastern Lake Erie.

lake erie grapes vine

Lake Erie Mirage Effect. There have been sporadic reports of people in Cleveland being able to see the Canadian shoreline as if it were immediately offshore, even though Canada is 80 kilometers (50 miles) from Cleveland. It has been speculated that this is a weather-related phenomenon, working on similar principles to a mirage.

Bessie is a name given to an alleged lake monster in Lake Erie. The first recorded sighting of Bessie occurred in 1793, and more sightings have occurred intermittently and in greater frequency in the last three decades. Bessie is reported to be snake-like and 9 to 12 meters (30 to 40 feet) long, at least 30 centimeters (1 foot) in diameter, with a grayish color. There is a beer named after the Lake Erie Monster as well as a hockey team.

Lake Erie was the last of the Great Lakes to be explored by Europeans. French explorer Louis Joliet discovered the lake in 1669.

The greater part of its southern shore was at one time occupied by a nation known to the Iroquois League as the “Erielhonan,” or the “long-tails,” a tribe of Indians from which the lake derived its name.

Ice glaciers melting at the end of the latest Ice Age were responsible for the formation of Lake Erie and all of the other Great Lakes.