Cool maps of deformed Great Lakes


Most people love Lake Michigan.

The 17th century German mapmaker Herman Moll isn’t most people. His depictions of Lake Superior and Lake Huron dwarf the region’s favorite in a 1711 map of “ye North Parts of America.”

The historical map is one of many offered by, a collaborative project of Wisconsin’s Water Library, the University of Wisconsin Sea Grant program and other Wisconsin institutions.

The 1711 map may not be geographically accurate – last time I checked Lake Huron wasn’t heart-shaped – but it’s revealing. The British crafted it in response to an earlier French map that minimized the nation’s holdings, according to the Web site.

Moll became a popular publisher of American maps in his time. He’s probably the reason Lake Superior has such a huge ego.

As for the lakes, depictions somewhat improved in time. See for yourself: There are 32 maps covering 300 years of mapmaking in the region and 76 historical lake charts from the United States Lake Survey.

Note: Map files are large; it takes time to download.

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