Lake Erie

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Erie, Lake,

9,940 sq mi (25,745 sq km), 241 mi (388 km) long and from 30 to 57 mi (48–92 km) wide, bordered on the N by S Ont., Canada, on the E by W N.Y., on the S by NW Pa. and N Ohio, and on the W by SE Mich. and NW Ohio.; fourth largest of the Great LakesGreat Lakes,
group of five freshwater lakes, central North America, creating a natural border between the United States and Canada and forming the largest body of freshwater in the world, with a combined surface area of c.95,000 sq mi (246,050 sq km).
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. It is 572 ft (174 m) above sea level with a maximum depth of 210 ft (64 m), making it the shallowest of the Great Lakes and the only one with a floor above sea level.

Lake Erie is part of the Great Lakes–St. Lawrence Seaway system and is linked to Lake Huron by the Detroit River, Lake St. Clair, and St. Clair River, and with Lake Ontario by the Niagara River (Lake Erie's only natural outlet) and the Welland Canal. The New York State Canal SystemNew York State Canal System,
waterway system, 524 mi (843 km) long, traversing New York state and connecting the Great Lakes with the Finger Lakes, the Hudson River, and Lake Champlain.
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 links the lake with the Hudson River. Several small rivers, including the Maumee, Sandusky, and Cuyahoga, flow into the lake from the south; the Grand River enters from Ontario. Lake Erie is partially icebound in winter and is usually closed to navigation from mid-December to the end of March.

Rich agricultural lands border the Canadian shore, where the chief towns are Port Colborne and Port Stanley. The principal U.S. cities on the lake are Buffalo, Erie, Cleveland, and Toledo; all are ports with heavy industry. Numerous recreation facilities are provided at national, provincial, and state parks located on the lake's islands and shores.

Untreated industrial and municipal wastes from lakeshore cities—and from Detroit, whose wastes enter the western end of the lake—polluted the waters and rendered surrounding areas foul smelling. A U.S.-Canadian pact (1972) ended the discharge of contaminating materials into the water, and the environmental damage abated. In the 21st cent., however, an increase in phosphorus from agricultural runoff has contributed to large algal blooms in the lake; the algae's decomposition also created significant oxygen-depleted "dead zones" on the lake bottom.

The first European to see the lake was French explorer Louis JollietJolliet or Joliet, Louis
, 1645–1700, French explorer, joint discoverer with Jacques Marquette of the upper Mississippi River, b. Quebec prov., Canada.
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 in 1669. The British and the French, and later the British and the Americans, fought for its control. The battle of Lake Erie (Sept. 10, 1813), a naval engagement in the War of 1812, led successfully by the U.S. leader Oliver H. PerryPerry, Oliver Hazard,
1785–1819, American naval officer, b. South Kingstown, R.I.; brother of Matthew Calbraith Perry. Appointed a midshipman in 1799, he served in the Tripolitan War, was promoted to lieutenant (1807), and from 1807 to 1809 was engaged in building gunboats.
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 against the British, was fought at Put-in Bay.

Lake Erie

Great Lake; once so polluted, referred to as Lake Eerie. [Am. Hist.: NCE, 887]
See: Filth