Introduction to Lake Erie

As the fourth largest Great Lake and the twelfth largest freshwater lake in the world, Lake Erie is “unmatched recreational and sport-fishing mecca, and provides significant quantities of sand and gravel for construction” among huge amounts of water for the surrounding communities (Hansen, 1989).

Lake Erie’s entire existence is owed to the presence of a basin that was created before the Pleistocene Ice Age around 2 million years ago (Hansen, 1989). Lake water fills basins which are bowl-shaped depressions in the Earth. Many in the Northern Hemisphere were formed by glaciers 18,000 years ago (National Geographic, 2012). Lakes can also form from flooding rivers, landslides, mudslides, and spots where plate tectonics have altered the Earth’s crust. Based on observations made by Charles Whittlesey in 1838, the “Lake Ridges,” beach deposits that rise over the flat lake plains, prove that Lake Erie once stood over 100 feet higher than its present elevation (Hansen, 1989).

Lake Erie has been an incredible source or transportation for its surrounding inhabitants from the fur trade to the War of 1812. Control over it was so sought after, an intense fight broke out called the Battle of Lake Erie (Ohio History Center). Lake Erie also played a very significant political role because its borders were such a huge point of power in the settling colonies, and therefore made it a power play for European nations including France and Great Britain. Specifically speaking, everyone wanted control of the dead middle of the lake because of its resources and proximity (Morton, 2012).

“Perry at the Battle of Lake Erie” 1813 (Courtesy of Ohio Memory)

*Continue onto “The Ice Age and Glaciers”*