The Great Lakes really are sights to behold if you ever get the chance to travel across North America. However, Lake Superior perhaps remains the most fascinating of them all. It’s an astonishing record-breaker! This truly colossal body of freshwater is known for its wildlife, its silver deposits, and, oddly enough, its shipwrecks. It also borders several US states, as well as extending into Canada. This incredible body of water really does have to be seen to be believed.
In this fact file, we will take you through some of the most interesting and astonishing facts about Lake Superior you may not already know. Once you’ve read through, you may be inspired to charter a boat out here – especially if you are a keen birdwatcher or if you are looking for a cave trail or two!
Lake Superior is the biggest of all the Great Lakes of North America.
In fact, Lake Superior remains the biggest-known freshwater body on the planet.
However, it’s actually third in terms of freshwater volume. Lake Baikal, in Russia, and Lake Tanganyika in Africa hold more water, but only just.
In fact, you can expect Superior to hold an astonishing 2,900 cubic miles. Or 12,100 cubic km of water.
The lake is around 257km, or 160 miles wide. It’s 563km long, which is roughly 350 miles!
It also has an enormous shoreline, which roughly measures at 4,385km, or 2,726 miles.
Lake Superior is surprisingly deep. It’s said to reach depths of around 400m, or 1,300 feet!
Believe it or not, if you wanted to refill Lake Superior from scratch with natural water, it would take 200 years. It repeats this cycle every two centuries, and none of us will ever be alive to notice it!
Around 300 streams, or connecting rivers, flow in and out of Lake Superior.
Lake Superior isn’t particularly warm or cold regardless of the time of year, though it is known to drop all the way down to minus 34 degrees C at coldest. It’s the coldest of all the Great Lakes and has almost frozen over at least once.
Believe it or not, if you want to visit the lake at its absolute calmest, you should make a beeline here during the summer months. That is, at least, when the water is likely to be at its most still!
Lake Superior would extend a total stretch of 2,938km if you laid it into a straight line.
The lake is home to a variety of famous shipwrecks, too. Amongst these include the SS Edmund Fitzgerald. This was a freighter which sank in November 1975. Sadly, none of the 29-strong crew survived the tragedy.
Lake Superior is not only the largest of the Great Lakes, but it also remains the clearest and the cleanest.
You can see down into the lake by about eight feet before things start to get foggy or cloudy.
It’s thought that visitors to the lake were spotting chunks of ice in June from the previous winter!
The lake is thought to have originally been called Gichigami. This is said to have translated into ‘great lake’ or ‘big water’.
Lake Superior is also famous for its mining conditions. Many people have mined the likes of iron, copper, and silver here. It’s also played host to gold, too, though this is pretty rare.
The caves around the lake are also hugely popular with visitors. For example, the Devil’s Island caves have only been accessible in the past decade or so but are quickly becoming famous with walkers and explorers.
The shores of Lake Superior border three different US states. These are Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. However, it also borders Ontario.
The shorelines are interesting in that they are largely untouched and undeveloped. This is largely thanks to the fact that farming is very difficult in the stronger weather.
It’s thought that the Devil’s Island caves were actually formed by the lake itself. You can even access the caves via an ice bridge that naturally forms across the water.
It’s thought that Lake Superior holds around 10% of the total freshwater available in the entire world.
It’s estimated that you can cover the whole of North and South America with at least a foot of water from Lake Superior. Incredible!
Many people will know that Superior can get foggy and stormy – meaning it’s best to avoid the lake if you don’t fancy these conditions around October and November.
It’s thought that more than 1,000 people have lost their lives in shipwrecks across Lake Superior. Its infamy of shipwrecks is so well-known that it has its own shipwreck museum, and even has a ‘Great Lakes Graveyard’.
Anyone looking to mine silver, as mentioned, will likely want to head here. However, what you might not realise is that Sliver Islet is one of the biggest providers of silver on the planet, and it’s just off the north of the lake.
There are more than 80 different species of fish which live in Lake Superior.
Even more fascinating is the fact that there are more diporeia, or lake shrimp, in Superior than there are human beings – in terms of total biomass. There are thought to be more than 70 million living in the basin.
Superior is also very popular with birdwatchers, too. This is because you are likely to spot thousands of birds passing by the lake each day. It’s famously home to species as diverse as woodpeckers, eagles, and owls. It’s an incredible nature trail, on the whole!
It’s thought that people have lived in the region of Lake Superior for more than 10,000 years. Humans first emerged here as a result of the end of the last Ice Age. It was a refuge from melting glaciers.
The French explored the lake in the 17th century, long after Native Americans first inhabited the region.
Do you have any interesting or fun facts about Lake Superior that we’ve missed? Share them here in the comments section below!