Great Lakes Myths and Facts

August 2020 Multimedia Madison Weaver Web Exclusive


Lake Monsters, Dr. Seuss and home runs all have one thing in common: the Great Lakes. Whether these stories are facts or myths, well that’s for you to decide. 

Myths

South Bay Bessie

Lake Erie could seem eerie if you’ve ever laid eyes on Bessie, the 30 to 40 foot long lake monster who’s made the lake her home. Witnesses reported sightings of a snake like creature as early as 1793. 

Reports indicate South Bay Bessie, as native Ohioans like to call her, is 1 foot in diameter and has gray skin, although some details vary in reports. There have not only been several sightings from 1793 to the present, but several attacks credited to her as well. 

The Terrible Triangle 

Lake Michigan has its very own Bermuda Triangle, where strange activity has occurred for over 120 years. From shipwrecks to plane crashes, and even UFO sightings, this triangle leaves no trace of evidence when it comes to these disappearances

The first of the Lake Michigan Triangle’s victims was Thomas Hume in 1891. His vessel was lost at sea after a successful lumber haul, but no driftwood washed up on shore after the disappearance.

The triangle stretches from Ludington to Benton Harbor, Michigan and to Manitowoc, Wisconsin. So you may want to avoid that area, that is, if you’re superstitious. 

And It’s Outta Here

In his first ever major league home run, Babe Ruth’s bat connected with the ball and sent it sailing over the outfield and into Lake Ontario, or so they say. 

On September 5, 1914, Babe Ruth played for the Providence Grays during an away game at Hanlan’s Point stadium in Toronto, Canada. The actual location of the ball is unknown. Some people say the ball was stolen from the Hall of Fame, but Torontonians believe the ball still sits at the bottom of Lake Ontario.  

Facts

Lake Erie & The Lorax

You’re glumping the pond where the Humming-Fish hummed!
No more can they hum, for their gills are all gummed.
So I’m sending them off. Oh, their future is dreary.
They’ll walk on their fins and get woefully weary
in search of some water that isn’t so smeary.
I hear things are just as bad up in Lake Erie.
– Dr. Seuss, The Lorax

The original words written by Dr. Seuss in The Lorax contained the last line about Lake Erie. But 14 years later, after the Ohio Sea Grant Program convinced Dr. Seuss the lake’s conditions improved, he agreed to omit the line from any editions in the future. 

Herding Lake Huron 

Prehistoric caribou roamed the area of Lake Huron 9,000 years ago before water levels increased. Today, the Alpena-Amberley Ridge, now beneath Lake Huron, shows evidence of prehistoric caribou hunters, and their herding structures.

The Battle of Lake Erie

Detroit could have been very different if Captain Oliver Hazard Perry lost the Battle of Lake Erie. In the War of 1812, Captain Perry led a fleet of eight U.S. Navy ships against six British Navy ships for control over Detroit and the territorial northwest. With guns blazing, Captain Perry charged the British frontline, forcing surrender.

His telegraph to U.S. General William Henry Harrison said, “We have met the enemy, and they are ours.”

Whether you love facts or you’re a die-hard conspiracy believer, plenty of folklore and facts about the Great Lakes are out there for you to discover.


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