The Battle Of Lake Erie

"With half the western world at stake, See Perry on the middle lake.” —Nineteenth-century ballad

In the late summer of 1812 a Great Lakes merchant captain named Daniel Dobbins arrived in Washington. He had had a dreadful time getting there, and his journey could not have been made more pleasant by the fact that he was bringing some very bad news with him. Read more »

A Michigan Boyhood


First there was the ice; two miles high, hundreds of miles wide, and many centuries deep. It came down from the darkness at the top of the world, and it hung down over the eaves, and our Michigan country lay along the line of the overhang. To be sure, all of the ice was now gone. It had melted, they said, ten thousand years ago; but they also pointed out that ten thousand years amounted to no more than a flick of the second hand on the geologic time clock.Read more »

The Legend Of A Lake


The lake was liberated from glacial ice ten thousand years before Babylon was built. Thus, it had more than fifteen thousand years in which to transform from an almost sterile, ice-gouged river valley into fecund, prosperous Lake Erie.

In fifteen millennia the lake received more than ninety species of fish and immense and varied populations of insects, worms, and crustaceans, and built up the largest concentrations of freshwater fish in the world. Read more »

Footprints Of The Great Ice

The glacier that covered most of North America scarred the land, turned rivers in their courses, and deeply influenced our history

A narrow band of very low, very gentle hills extends across the northern states from Cape Cod to the Rocky Mountains in Montana. In places the winds and rains of thousands of years have worn them down to insignificant undulations; in other places they may be a hundred feet high or more. There is nothing about it to catch the casual eye, but the geologist recognizes this ridge as the terminal moraine of North America’s last continental glacier, the line where the ice ended its long advance and began to melt back.

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