Lake Michigan

Lake Michigan
Lake Michigan Landsat Satellite Photo.jpg
Landsat image
Map of Great Lakes (Lake Michigan in darker blue)
LocationUnited States
GroupGreat Lakes
Coordinates44°N 87°W / 44°N 87°W / Straits of Mackinac, Chicago River, Calumet River
Basin countriesUnited States
Max. length307 mi (494 km)
Max. width118 mi (190 km)
Min. width91 mi (146 km)
Surface area22,404 sq mi (58,030 km2)[1]
Average depth279 ft (85 m)
Max. depth923 ft (281 m)[2]
Water volume1,180 cu mi (4,900 km3)
Residence time99 years
Shore length11,400 mi (2,300 km) plus 238 mi (383 km) for islands[3]
Surface elevation577 ft (176 m)[2]
Islandssee list
Settlementssee #Cities
1 Shore length is not a well-defined measure.

Lake Michigan is one of the five Great Lakes of North America and the only one located entirely within the United States. The other four Great Lakes are shared by the U.S. and Canada. It is the second-largest of the Great Lakes by volume[1] (1,180 cu mi (4,900 km3)) and the third-largest by surface area (22,404 sq mi (58,030 km2)), after Lake Superior and Lake Huron (and is slightly smaller than the U.S. state of West Virginia). To the east, its basin is conjoined with that of Lake Huron through the wide Straits of Mackinac, giving it the same surface elevation as its easterly counterpart; the two are technically a single lake.[4]

Lake Michigan is shared, from west to east, by the U.S. states of Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan. Ports along its shores include Chicago; Milwaukee; Green Bay, Wisconsin; Gary, Indiana; and Muskegon, Michigan. The word "Michigan" originally referred to the lake itself, and is believed to come from the Ojibwe word michi-gami meaning "great water".[5]


Some of the earliest human inhabitants of the Lake Michigan region were the Hopewell Indians. Their culture declined after 800 AD, and for the next few hundred years, the region was the home of peoples known as the Late Woodland Indians. In the early 17th century, when western European explorers made their first forays into the region, they encountered descendants of the Late Woodland Indians: the Chippewa; Menominee; Sauk; Fox; Winnebago; Miami; Ottawa; and Potawatomi. The French explorer Jean Nicolet is believed to have been the first European to reach Lake Michigan, possibly in 1634 or 1638.[6] In the earliest European maps of the region, the name of Lake Illinois has been found in addition to that of "Michigan", named for the Illinois Confederation of tribes.[7]

Lake Michigan is joined via the narrow, open-water Straits of Mackinac with Lake Huron, and the combined body of water is sometimes called Michigan–Huron (also Huron–Michigan). The Straits of Mackinac were an important Native American and fur trade route. Located on the southern side of the Straits is the town of Mackinaw City, Michigan, the site of Fort Michilimackinac, a reconstructed French fort founded in 1715, and on the northern side is St. Ignace, Michigan, site of a French Catholic mission to the Indians, founded in 1671. In 1673, Jacques Marquette, Louis Joliet and their crew of five Métis voyageurs followed Lake Michigan to Green Bay and up the Fox River, nearly to its headwaters, in their search for the Mississippi River, cf. Fox–Wisconsin Waterway. The eastern end of the Straits was controlled by Fort Mackinac on Mackinac Island, a British colonial and early American military base and fur trade center, founded in 1781.[8]

With the advent of European exploration into the area in the late 17th century, Lake Michigan became part of a line of waterways leading from the Saint Lawrence River to the Mississippi River and thence to the Gulf of Mexico.[9] French coureurs des bois and voyageurs established small ports and trading communities, such as Green Bay, on the lake during the late 17th and early 18th centuries.[10]

In the 19th century, Lake Michigan played a major role in the development of Chicago and the Midwestern United States west of the lake. For example, 90% of the grain shipped from Chicago travelled east over Lake Michigan during the antebellum years, and only rarely falling below 50% after the Civil War and the major expansion of railroad shipping.[11]

The first person to reach the deep bottom of Lake Michigan was J. Val Klump, a scientist at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. Klump reached the bottom via submersible as part of a 1985 research expedition.[12]

In 2007, a row of stones paralleling an ancient shoreline was discovered by Mark Holley, professor of underwater archeology at Northwestern Michigan College. This formation lies 40 feet (12 m) below the surface of the lake. One of the stones is said to have a carving resembling a mastodon. So far the formation has not been authenticated.[13][14]

The warming of Lake Michigan was the subject of a report by Purdue University in 2018. In each decade since 1980, steady increases in average surface temperature have occurred. This is likely to lead to decreasing native habitat and to adversely affect native species survival.[15]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Michiganmeer
asturianu: Llagu Michigan
azərbaycanca: Miçiqan gölü
Bân-lâm-gú: Michigan Ô͘
башҡортса: Мичиган (күл)
беларуская: Мічыган (возера)
български: Мичиган (езеро)
brezhoneg: Lenn Michigan
català: Llac Michigan
Cymraeg: Llyn Michigan
Deutsch: Michigansee
dolnoserbski: Michiganski jazor
Ελληνικά: Λίμνη Μίσιγκαν
español: Lago Míchigan
Esperanto: Miĉigano (lago)
français: Lac Michigan
Gaeilge: Loch Michigan
Gàidhlig: Loch Michigan
한국어: 미시간호
հայերեն: Միչիգան լիճ
हिन्दी: मिशिगन झील
hornjoserbsce: Michiganski jězor
hrvatski: Jezero Michigan
Bahasa Indonesia: Danau Michigan
interlingua: Laco Michigan
íslenska: Michiganvatn
italiano: Lago Michigan
Kiswahili: Ziwa Michigan
latviešu: Mičigans
magyar: Michigan-tó
मैथिली: मिचिगन ताल
македонски: Мичиген (езеро)
მარგალური: მიჩიგანი (ტობა)
مازِرونی: میشیگان دریاچه
Nederlands: Michiganmeer
नेपाली: मिचिगन ताल
日本語: ミシガン湖
norsk nynorsk: Michigansjøen
occitan: Lac Michigan
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Michigan (koʻl)
Piemontèis: Lagh Michigan
português: Lago Michigan
română: Lacul Michigan
Runa Simi: Michigan qucha
sicilianu: Lacu Michigan
Simple English: Lake Michigan
slovenčina: Michiganské jazero
slovenščina: Michigansko jezero
српски / srpski: Мичиген (језеро)
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Michigan (jezero)
svenska: Michigansjön
Taqbaylit: Agelmim Michigan
Türkçe: Michigan Gölü
українська: Мічиган (озеро)
Tiếng Việt: Hồ Michigan
粵語: 密芝根湖
中文: 密歇根湖