Great Lakes land-locked

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by nyudnik, Dec 7, 2004.

  1. nyudnik Banned

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    The Great Lakes are navigatable from the Atlantic, enabling large ships to penetrate up to Duluth, 1000 miles into the US interior.

    If the Lakes were landlocked and only opened to canal recently, if at all: how would this have influenced US history & growth?
     
  2. JoanneMerriam Gets It In Writing

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    I don't know about the US, but Canada would be completely different as the French wouldn't have penetrated as deeply as Quebec and therefore our two solitudes would have developed differently if at all.
     
  3. tom Member

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    Well, they would be rather saline. Even now you can see whitening on piers, etc., and if all those small rivers kept bringing in their traces of salt and it could not get out, eventually we would end up like the Dead Sea or the Great Salt Lake. I don't know how far along the process we would be as the Lakes are geologically young. Also, for them to stay landlocked the climate would have to be drier, or eventually they would overflow.
     
  4. zoomar Curmudgeon

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    Tom's right, they are likely to be somewhat more saline, but nowhere near as salty as lakes in arid lands, since they date only to the end of the last glaciation. Regardless of how North America was settled, it is unlikely they would have the population concentration or industry along their shores without the St Lawrence River providing both an access to the Atlantic and a ready source of hydroelectric power. It would have affected Canada's growth a lot more than the USA.
     
  5. Mark Member

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    Actually, Niagara Falls kept ships out of Lake Erie on until 1829 (http://www.encyclopedia.com/html/W/WellandS1.asp). If the Lakes had no outlet, the water levels woudl rise until some point overflowed. This point has changed as the ice sheets retreated and advanced and as the land rebounded. Originally, the ancestral Great Lakes emptied through the Mississippi River. It was relatively recently (for a geologist) that the St. Lawrence became the outlet.

    The Michigan Dept. Envir. Quality (which includes the Mich. Geological Survey) has more information concerning the history of the Great Lakes on their website (http://www.michigan.gov/deq/0,1607,7-135-3311_3582---,00.html).
     
  6. wkwillis Member

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    What if it was icelocked? If it went north to Hudson's Bay then it would not be usefull for anything but hauling furs to market for a few months each year when the ice melted and blew away from the shores.
    Most Russian rivers in Siberia are like that. They can only be used for a few months each year after breakup. Then the ice closes in again. Like the Mackenzie River. It would be usefull if it wasn't closed by drift ice all winter, and if the mouth of the Mackenzie reached open water more than temporarily. That is what's going to change with global warming.
    There is a port at Churchill on Hudson's Bay. It can cut days off the cost of shipping to Europe if you are coming out of Manitoba.
     
  7. Mark Member

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    Actually, shipping in the Great Lakes stops for the winter now. Usually the last ship goes by Detroit in late December and the first one of the year in March. The exact dates vary from year to year as the Coast Guard monitors conditions. Storms and ice are the reasons. In fact, ice fishing is very popular on Lake St. Clair, located between Lake Huron and Lake Erie.

    There's no reason why the Great Lakes can't drain north in the future, but given that the ice sheets were retreating north, the water could only run either south or east, depedning on the exact conditions.
     
  8. wkwillis Member

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    Sometimes it drained to the north IIRC from an article I read about a year ago.