Lake Erie was gouged out by glacial ice between 1 million and 12,600 years ago.
It was one of the first Great Lakes to be uncovered during the last retreat of the glacial ice.
Lake Erie and its shoreline are a major source of many minerals. The largest sandstone quarry in the world is located in Amherst, Lorain County,
Ohio. Salt mines in Cuyahoga and Lake Counties extend out under Lake Erie and are an important source of revenue to the State. Sand, gypsum, and limestone used for construction purposes are found in
abundance. Large reserves of natural gas, over 3 trillion cubic feet, are located under Lake Erie. The oldest rocks from which the Lake Erie basin was carved are about 400 million years old and
formed in a tropical ocean-reef environment.
Lake Erie is the 12th-largest (area) lake in the world, and its border includes four states (NY, PA, OH, MI) and one Canadian Province (Ontario).
Lake Erie is the southernmost, shallowest, warmest, and most biologically productive of the five Great Lakes.
Lake Erie is about 210 miles (338 km) long, about 57 miles (92 km) wide, and has a shoreline length of about 871 miles (1,400 km). Lake Erie has three basins: the western basin includes the islands area, the central basin extends from the islands to Erie, PA, and Long Point, Canada, and the eastern basin extends from Erie, PA, to the east end of the lake. The maximum depth of Lake Erie is 210 feet (64 m). Average depths in the basins are: western, 24 feet (7.3 m); central, 60 feet (18.3 m); and eastern, 80 feet (24.4 m).
Lake Erie's drainage basin area is 22,720 square miles (58,800 sq. km) and has a retention/replacement time of 2.6 years, which is the shortest of the Great Lakes. The Lake Erie water surface area is 9,906 square miles (25,657 sq. km) and the volume is 116 cubic miles (483 cu. km). Water flow from the Detroit River makes up 80 to 90% of the flow into Lake Erie.
The outlet for Lake Erie is the Niagara River; consequently, it is Lake Erie that feeds water to Niagara Falls.
About 34 inches of water evaporates from the Lake Erie surface per year. Basin rainfall is about 34 inches per year, although the historical trend is increasing slightly. Elevation of the Low Water Datum (chart "0") is 568.6 feet above Father Point, Quebec. Average water elevation is about 570 feet above the same point.
Lake Erie was the last of the Great Lakes to be discovered by Europeans, by Louis Joliet (a French explorer) in 1669.
French claims to Lake Erie were ceded to England as a result of the 1754-63 French and Indian Wars.
The famous quotation "We have met the enemy and they are ours," was made by Oliver Hazzard Perry during the Battle of Lake Erie in the War of 1812, which secured the south shore of the lake for the U.S. In 1796, Connecticut gave up its claim to the Western Reserve lands, which then permitted settlement of what is now northeastern Ohio.