For centuries, the Great Lakes have served as an important food source and trade route for people living along their shore. Today, that rich history is a draw for tourists as well as divers interested in the lakes' thousands of shipwrecks. 

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Historical Collection of the Great Lakes/Bowling Green State University

The Margaret Olwill was on its way to Cleveland at the end of June 1899, carrying 900 tons of limestone and 12 passengers. 


The Great Lakes states have produced several influential African-Americans in the sciences.

There’s astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson -- he’s from New York. And nuclear scientist J. Ernest Wilkins Jr., who attended the University of Chicago at the age of 13.

Icebreaker Mackinaw Maritime Museum

Have you ever wanted to travel on a Great Lakes freighter? For a mere $20, you can enter a raffle for a five-day trip, courtesy of a Michigan museum.

The raffle, being held by the Icebreaker Mackinaw Maritime Museum, offers a chance to ride this summer on the Wilfred Sykes or another ship in the Central Marine Logistics fleet.

U.S Coast Guard

The Christmas spirit is popping up along the waters of the Great Lakes region.

In Port Huron, Mich., Santa Claus rode to shore on the Huron Spirit, a boat operated by the Lakes Pilots Association. In Toledo, Ohio, the tug Josephine brought him to the National Museum of the Great Lakes.

But the most poignant event of the holiday season was in Chicago, where the sinking of  "The Christmas Tree Ship" was remembered recently.


New York artist Alexis Rockman describes his paintings of the Great Lakes as "natural history psychedelia." And just one look at the surreal, mural-size canvases -- bursting with color and energy -- shows why.