John Schaffner said it best when he said, “When it comes to Lake Erie, we are all environmentalists.”
Even though most people think Earth Day should be everyday, it is good to take time and celebrate the beauty of nature and enjoy the great things our area has to offer in the outdoors. The best natural resource we have here in Ottawa County is, undeniably, Lake Erie. In celebration of Earth Day, here are some facts about our Great Lake, Lake Erie.
Facts about Lake Erie from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources:
• Lake Erie is the twelfth largest lake in the world (in area) and its border includes four states (New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Ohio) and one Canadian Province (Ontario).
• Lake Erie is the southernmost, shallowest, warmest and most biologically productive of the five Great Lakes. These are part of the reasons it is the largest Great Lakes sport fishery.
• Ottawa County has 94 miles of coastline, followed by Erie County who has 68 miles, making Ottawa County the leader in length of Lake Erie shoreline.
• The Marblehead Lighthouse is the oldest lighthouse in Ohio and it’s the oldest continually operating lighthouse on the Great Lakes.
• Lake Erie has three basins: the western basin includes the islands area; the central basin extends from the islands to around Erie, PA, and Long Point, Canada; and the eastern basin extends from Erie, PA, to the east end of the lake.
• Lake Erie is about 241 miles long, about 57 miles wide at its widest, and has about 871 miles of shoreline. The length of Ohio’s shoreline is about 312 miles.
• The maximum depth of Lake Erie is 210 feet and occurs in the eastern basin. Average depths in the basins are: western, 24 feet; central, 60 feet; and eastern, 80 feet.
• 22,720 square miles of land (roughly the size of West Virgina) drain directly into Lake Erie; however, if the drainage areas of the upper Great Lakes (Superior, Michigan and Huron) are included, the total drainage area of Lake Erie is 263,650 square miles (which is a little under the size of Texas).
• Lake Erie has the retention/replacement time of 2.6 years, which is the shortest of the Great Lakes.
• Water flow from the Detroit River makes up 80 to 90 percent of the flow into the lake.
• The outlet for Lake Erie is the Niagara River; consequently it is Lake Erie that feeds water to Niagara Falls.
• Lake Erie was one of the first Great Lakes to be uncovered during the last retreat of the glacial ice.
• The oldest rocks from which the Lake Erie basin was carved are about 400 million years old and formed in a tropical ocean reef environment.
• Lake Erie and its shoreline are a major source of minerals. The largest sandstone quarry in the world is located in Amherst in Lorain County. Salt mines in Cuyahoga and Lake Counties extend out under Lake Erie and are an important source of revenue to the state. Sand, gypsum and limestone used for construction purposes are found in abundance. Large reserves of natural gas, over 3 trillion cubic feet, are located under Lake Erie.