I was blessed to spend 7 wonderful years traveling the backwoods and waterways of the Great Lakes from 2007 through 2014 before health issues created some insurmountable problems to my daily business travel.  Like all things in life one problem creates another opportunity which allowed me spend some time working on some of my photography from those 7 wonderful years.  I hope you enjoy some of the imagery of my travels as well information and history of this beautiful region. 
The Great Lakes including Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario are the largest freshwater lakes on Earth by area and second-largest by volume.  They contain 21% of the world's surface fresh water by volume.  They have been a major source for transportation, migration, trade, and fishing.
These Lakes Are Great not just because they contain 21% the Worlds Surface Fresh Water by Volume. 
They’re Great Great Because Because There are right here in America
Dispersed throughout the Great Lakes are approximately 35,000 islands. The largest among them is Manitoulin Island in Lake Huron, the largest island in any inland body of water in the world. The second-largest island is Isle Royale in Lake Superior.  Both of these islands are large enough to contain multiple lakes themselves—for instance, Manitoulin Island's Lake Manitou is the world's largest lake on a freshwater island.  Some of these lakes even have their own islands, like Treasure Island in Lake Mindemoya in Manitoulin Island.
Lake Erie
From the Erie tribe, a shortened form of the Iroquoian word erielhonan "long tail".
Lake Huron
Named for the inhabitants of the area, the Wyandot (or "Hurons"), by the first French explorers . The Wyandot originally referred to the lake by the name karegnondi, a word which has been variously translated as "Freshwater Sea", "Lake of the Hurons", or simply "lake".
Lake Michigan
From the Ojibwa word mishi-gami "great water" or "large lake".
Lake Ontario
From the Wyandot (Huron) word ontarí'io "lake of shining waters".
Lake Superior
English translation of the French term lac supérieur "upper lake", referring to its position north of Lake Huron. The indigenous Ojibwe call it gichi-gami (from Ojibwe gichi "big, large, great"; gami "water, lake, sea"). Popularized in French-influenced transliteration as Gitchigumi as in Gordon Lightfoot's 1976 story song, The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, or Gitchee Gumee as in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's 1855 epic poem, The Song of Hiawatha).
Several Native American tribes inhabited the region since at least 10,000 BC, after the end of the Wisconsin glaciation.[citation needed] The peoples of the Great Lakes traded with the Hopewell culture from around 1000 AD, as copper nuggets have been extracted from the region, and fashioned into ornaments and weapons in the mounds of Southern Ohio. The brigantine Le Griffon, which was commissioned by René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, was built at Cayuga Creek, near the southern end of the Niagara River, and became the first known sailing ship to travel the upper Great Lakes on August 7, 1679.
The Rush–Bagot Treaty signed in 1818, after the War of 1812 and the later Treaty of Washington eventually led to a complete disarmament of naval vessels in the Great Lakes. Nonetheless, both nations maintain coast guard vessels in the Great Lakes.
During settlement, the Great Lakes and its rivers were the only practical means of moving people and freight. Barges from middle North America were able to reach the Atlantic Ocean from the Great Lakes when the Welland canal opened in 1824 and the later Erie Canal opened in 1825.  By 1848, with the opening of the Illinois and Michigan Canal at Chicago, direct access to the Mississippi River was possible from the lakes.  With these two canals an all-inland water route was provided between New York City and New Orleans.
The main business of many of the passenger lines in the 19th century was transporting immigrants. Many of the larger cities owe their existence to their position on the lakes as a freight destination as well as for being a magnet for immigrants. After railroads and surface roads developed, the freight and passenger businesses dwindled and, except for ferries and a few foreign cruise ships, have now vanished. The immigration routes still have an effect today. Immigrants often formed their own communities and some areas have a pronounced ethnicity, such as Dutch, German, Polish, Finnish, and many others. Since many immigrants settled for a time in New England before moving westward, many areas on the U.S. side of the Great Lakes also have a New England feel, especially in home styles and accent.
Since general freight these days is transported by railroads and trucks, domestic ships mostly move bulk cargoes, such as iron ore, coal and limestone for the steel industry. The domestic bulk freight developed because of the nearby mines. It was more economical to transport the ingredients for steel to centralized plants rather than try to make steel on the spot. Grain exports are also a major cargo on the lakes.
In the 19th century and early 20th centuries, iron and other ores such as copper were shipped south on (downbound ships), and supplies, food, and coal were shipped north (upbound). Because of the location of the coal fields in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, and the general northeast track of the Appalachian Mountains, railroads naturally developed shipping routes that went due north to ports such as Erie, Pennsylvania and Ashtabula, Ohio.
Because the lake maritime community largely developed independently, it has some distinctive vocabulary. Ships, no matter the size, are called boats. When the sailing ships gave way to steamships, they were called steamboats—the same term used on the Mississippi. The ships also have a distinctive design (see Lake freighter). Ships that primarily trade on the lakes are known as lakers. Foreign boats are known as salties. One of the more common sights on the lakes has been since about 1950 the 1,000‑by‑105-foot (305-by-32-meter), 78,850-long-ton (80,120-metric-ton) self-unloader. This is a laker with a conveyor belt system that can unload itself by swinging a crane over the side.  Today, the Great Lakes fleet is much smaller in numbers than it once was because of the increased use of overland freight, and a few larger ships replacing many small ones.
During World War II, the risk of submarine attacks against coastal training facilities motivated the United States Navy to operate two aircraft carriers on the Great Lakes, USS Sable (IX-81) and USS Wolverine (IX-64). Both served as training ships to qualify naval aviators in carrier landing and takeoff.  Lake Champlain briefly became the sixth Great Lake of the United States on March 6, 1998, when President Clinton signed Senate Bill 927. This bill, which reauthorized the National Sea Grant Program, contained a line declaring Lake Champlain to be a Great Lake. Not coincidentally, this status allows neighboring states to apply for additional federal research and education funds allocated to these national resources.   Following a small uproar, the Senate voted to revoke the designation on March 24 (although New York and Vermont universities would continue to receive funds to monitor and study the lake).
Stop Back Soon...  I have Much More to Add...
Thank You for Stopping By, hope to hear from you!
Jon Lyle
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