Huron, Lake (hyŏrˈänˌ) [key], 23,010 sq mi (59,596 sq km), 206 mi (332 km) long and 183 mi (295 km) at its greatest width, between Ont., Canada, and Mich.; second largest of the Great Lakes. It has a surface elevation of 580 ft (177 m) above sea level and a maximum depth of 750 ft (229 m).
Centrally located between the upper and lower Great Lakes, Lake Huron receives the waters of Lake Superior through the St. Marys River and those of Lake Michigan through the Straits of Mackinac; it drains into Lake Erie through the St. Clair River–Lake St. Clair–Detroit River system. Large tributaries flowing into the lake include the Mississagi, Wanapitei, Spanish, and French rivers from Ontario, and the Au Sable and Saginaw rivers from Michigan. The northern shoreline is irregular, with many bays and inlets; the largest are Georgian Bay and North Channel, which indent the Ontario shore and are nearly landlocked by Manitoulin Island and the Bruce Peninsula. Saginaw Bay is the principal indentation on the southern shores.
Lake Huron is part of the Great Lakes–St. Lawrence Seaway system and is navigated by oceangoing and lake vessels that carry cargoes of iron ore, grain, coal, and limestone. Navigation is impeded by ice in the shallower sections from mid-December to early April. The lake is subject to occasional violent storms.
The principal lakeshore cities are Port Huron, Mich., and Sarnia, Ont., at the lake's outlet; Owen Sound, Midland, and Parry Sound, Ont.; and Bay City, Alpena, and Cheboygan, Mich. Major salt deposits are worked at the south end of the lake. The waters of the lake are relatively unpolluted; commercial and sport fishing is important, and several resorts are located along the lake shore. Georgian Bay, an arm of the lake, is a popular resort area, and recreational facilities are provided at Georgian Bay Islands National Park (Canada), on the islands in Mackinac Strait, and at numerous state and provincial parks along the lake's scenic shores. Samuel de Champlain visited Lake Huron in 1615.
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