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December 2007

This month’s History Gem continues with the Lake Superior information theme. Recently, I received an email from David J. Krause, a geology professor from Ann Arbor, MI. He is a UP enthusiast who wrote the book "The Making of a Mining District" about the history of copper mining in Michigan. David’s wife is from Ontonagon, where her father named a fish tug after her and her cousin: the Sheryl-Dennis. In fact, as David reports, for some years the tug belonged to Grand Marais fisheries.

Through a mutual friend, he found out about the web page and the Gitche Gumee Museum. He sent me an email to tell me about his campaign to have Lake Superior officially designated the lowest point in North America. In his email, David reports: “I am dead serious about getting this information out and the need for correcting the "Death Valley thing" thrown around by national people who should know better. For many years I made sure that everyone who took my geology class understood it. The Death Valley defenders will likely argue that the bottom of Lake Superior is under water, but this is a non-issue for several reasons. Death Valley (Badwater Basin) is itself a lake during part of some years, and the fact that the Lake Superior basin happens to hold fresh water (not marine salt water) is irrelevant to its structure.”

In his campaign effort, David sent the following letter to the National Geographic Magazine:

Editor, National Geographic Magazine:

Your article on Death Valley (Nov 2007) includes a photograph with a caption that states: "At 282 feet below sea level, Badwater Basin is North America's lowest point." This is not correct. Lake Superior currently occupies what is by far the lowest structural basin on the North American continent. The surface elevation of Lake Superior is usually cited as about 602 feet above sea level and the depth as about 1333 feet, leaving a bottom elevation of 731 feet below sea level. This point lies about 40 miles north of Munising, Michigan, and therefore falls within the borders of that state. Therefore, the lowest point on the continent of North America is the bottom of the Lake Superior structural basin, being nearly 450 feet lower than the minus 282 feet of Badwater Basin (which itself may be under water or not, depending on local climatic conditions).

One further point I would like to make is that I believe the sign at the Badwater Basin says that it is the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere. Thus, Lake Superior is actually the lowest point in the western hemisphere. The photo below show the deepest point in Lake Superior, which is not very far from Grand Marais. I’ve also included a photo of my hiking friends and I that was taken at Badwater in Death Valley. This was a vacation we took in the early 1990s wherein we hiked Mount Whitney (14,496 feet), which is the highest point in the continental U.S., and went to Badwater (-282 feet) within the same 12-hour period. On that trip, we also went to Las Vegas and stayed a night in the hotel on the Queen Mary. We called it our “vacation of contrasts” trip. In the photo, I am on the left.

Lake Superior Depth Chart

History's Gems Archives

May 2007
(The Telescope Story)

June 2007
(The Story of the Grand Marais "Meteor")

July 2007
(Hints on Hunting Glacial Agate Article)

August 2007
(Lake Superior Origin from 1957)

Fall 2007
(Tourist Information from the 1920s)

December 2007
(Lake Superior Editorial)

January 2008
(Grand Marais Tourist Signpost)

February 2008
(Unusual Wedding Invitation)

March 2008
(1915 Rules for Teachers)

April 2008
(Cedar Stump article from 1962)

May 2008
(Old Postcards)

June 2008
(Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Proposal Proposal Proposal-Part 1)

Summer 2008
(Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Proposal Proposal-Part 2)

Summer 2008
(Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Proposal Proposal-Part 3)

October 2008
(Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Proposal Proposal-Part 4)

November 2008
(Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Proposal-Part 5)

December 2008
(Agate Leaflet from 1927)

January 2009
(Old Postcards)

February 2009
(Snowstorm Article from 1988)

March 2009
(Lake Superior Agate Poem)

Spring 2009
(History of M77)

July 2009
(Axel Niemi Photo)

August 2009
(Ship Travel on Lake Superior)

September 2009
(Hints on Hunting and Finding Agates)

Fall 2009
(Hints on Hunting and Finding Agates Part 2)

February 2010
(The Story of Grand Marais Part 1)

February 2010
(The Story of Grand Marais Part 2)

April/May 2010
(The Story of Grand Marais Part 3)

June 2010
(Box of Rocks Gets Diploma)

July 2010
(Shipwrecks at Agate Beach)

August/September 2010
(1958 Detroit News Article about Axel Niemi)

Fall 2010
(Reprint from the Douglas Houghton Expedition)

Winter 2011
(Old Postcards and Pictures)

Spring 2011
(1905 Grand Marais Article)

September 2011
(Michigan Log Marks)

March 2012
(John Keating)

January 2012
(Axel Remembered)

March 2012
(John Keating)

June 2012
(The Shark: Post 1)

September 2012
(The Shark: Post 2)

March 2013
(The Shark: Post 3)

August 2013
(All That Glitters. . .)

November 2013
(Excerpts from The Grand Marais Herald)

April 2014
(Souvenir View Book of Sault Ste. Marie)

September 2014
(Michigan Beach Stones)

February 2015
(Michiganís Mystic Dunes)

June 2015
(Vintage Grand Marais Photos)

November 2015
(Gitchee Agomowin)

June 2016
(Grand Marais Poems)

March 2017
(Logging Era Photos)

July 2017
(Jonas Hill Letters)

December 2017
(Seagull (Lost) Island, Grand Marais Bay)



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Gitche Gumee Museum.
E21739 Brazel Street
Grand Marais, Michigan 49839


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