Historical Collections of the Great Lakes

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Navigational Charts Collection, GLMS-104

Introduction | Agency History | Scope and Contents | Series Description | Inventory

Introduction

The collection of navigational charts has been acquired over many years, primarily from the Jerome Library at Bowling Green State University.

Literary and property rights are dedicated to the public and duplication is permitted for the purpose of preservation and research. Preparation of a guide to this collection was completed in June 1993 by Mark J. Barnes, Teri Branham, and Stacey Brinker.

Agency History

Though not the sole producer of charts in this collection, the United States Lake Survey was instrumental in preparing navigational aids for Great Lakes transportation. On March 3, 1841 Congress authorized funding for a survey of the Great Lakes and connecting waterways. The Corps of Topographical Engineers created a new service, the US Lake Survey (USLS), to meet the demand for improved navigational information on the Great Lakes. The US Lake Survey was later transferred to the US Army Corps of Engineers. Currently the functions of the former US Lake Survey are performed by the National Ocean Service within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

By 1882, the Lake Survey had charted the lakes and had drafted 76 charts showing depths in waterways to eighteen feet. Chart corrections were completed over the period up to 1900. Rapid increases in the size of lake vessels made the eighteen foot depth noted on charts obsolete. The need to chart deeper water to accommodate larger vessels began a new round of complete surveys with subsequent corrections. This cycle of surveys and updates continues today as an activity of the National Ocean Service.

Responsibility for charting additional related waterways developed in the early twentieth century. Today, the USLS provides charts for rivers leading into Green Bay from central Wisconsin, for the New York State Barge Canal system, and for the Border Lakes on the Minnesota-Ontario boundary. The region of jurisdiction for USLS extends from Vermont to Minnesota, with the Great Lakes portion alone covering 61,000 square miles of water and 5,500 miles of coastline.

The Great Lakes Pilot is published as a supplement for chart information. When physical conditions in a charted area are not easily represented on a chart, extended commentary on the location or phenomenon can be found in the Great Lakes Pilot.

Scope and Content

The Navigational Charts Collection documents the history of this form of cartographic aid to mariners on the Great Lakes. Approximately 2,600 items in the 142 cubic foot collection date from 1849 to 1991. These charts were produced by a variety of sources in the United States and Canada. Most items were drafted by the United States Lake Survey, the United States National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, the Canadian Hydrographic Service, and the Canadian Department of Fisheries.

Included in this collection are charts for entire lakes for each Great Lake, charts for connecting waterways, and charts for subregions (Lake Erie-West End) in the lakes. Individual harbors are charted, as is the St. Lawrence River. Other locations within the Great Lakes Basin are also represented through charts for the Border Lakes between Ontario and Minnesota. Charts for the New York State Barge Canal system are also present. Scattered Atlantic Coast and Mississippi Valley charts appear in small quantities.

Most collection charts were designed for standard navigational purposes. Others were prepared as bathymetric or morphometric guides to the underwater geology of the lake floors. Some charts focus on shoreline development patterns.

Series Description

CHARTS

CHARTS
[1849-1991]
Drawers 1-50
Series contains navigational charts for the Great Lakes, connecting waterways, selected waterways in the Great Lakes Basin, and for occasional Atlantic coast and Mississippi Valley locations. The charts are arranged numerically by catalog number under each lake, river or canal. When searching for charts on an area on the boundary between two bodies of water, researchers should consult the list of charts for both areas to see all potentially useful charts. For example, the mouth of the Detroit River is covered by both Detroit River and Lake Erie charts. Items in this chart collection reflect polyconic and mercator projections. Variations on these two main projections include universal transverse mercator, transverse mercator, and Lambert conformal conic formats. A complete list of individual charts, including number and date is available at the repository.

Inventory

Drawer 1: Lake Erie Charts

  1. Charts, 1849-1990

Drawer 2: Lake Erie Charts

  1. Charts, 1926-1974

Drawer 3: Lake Erie Charts

  1. Charts, 1933-1973

Drawer 4: Lake Erie Charts

  1. Charts, 1849-1983

Drawer 5: Lake Erie Charts

  1. Charts, 1948-1991

Drawer 6: Lake Erie Charts

  1. Charts, 1974-1993

Drawer 7: Lake Huron Charts

  1. Charts, 1828-1974

Drawer 8: Lake Huron Charts

  1. Charts, 1828-1973

Drawer 9: Lake Huron Charts

  1. Charts, 1895-1974

Drawer 10: Lake Huron Charts

  1. Charts, 1941-1992

Drawer 11: Lake Huron Charts

  1. 1976-1991

Drawer 12: Lake Michigan Charts

  1. Charts, 1864-1981

Drawer 13: Lake Michigan Charts

  1. Charts, 1878-1973

Drawer 14: Lake Michigan Charts

  1. Charts, 1927-1973

Drawer 15: Lake Michigan Charts

  1. Charts, 1931-1993

Drawer 16: Lake Michigan Charts

  1. Charts, 1919-1973

Drawer 17: Lake Michigan Charts

  1. Charts, 1908-1972

Drawer 18: Lake Michigan Charts

  1. Charts, 1906-1972

Drawer 19: Lake Michigan Charts

  1. Charts, 1892-1993

Drawer 20: Lake Michigan Charts

  1. Charts, 1975-1993

Drawer 21: Lake Michigan Charts

  1. Charts, 1975-1992

Drawer 22: Lake Ontario Charts

  1. Charts, 1942-1985

Drawer 23: Lake Ontario Charts

  1. Charts, 1914-1971

Drawer 24: Lake Ontario Charts

  1. Charts, 1940-1977

Drawer 25: Lake Ontario Charts

  1. Charts, 1974-1990

Drawer 26: Lake Superior Charts

  1. Charts, 1858-1973

Drawer 27: Lake Superior Charts

  1. Charts, 1916-1973

Drawer 28: Lake Superior Charts

  1. Charts, 1908-1973

Drawer 29: Lake Superior Charts

  1. Charts, 1905-1973

Drawer 30: Lake Superior Charts

  1. Charts, 1871-1991

Drawer 31: Lake Superior Charts

  1. Charts, 1976-1990

Drawer 32: River Charts--St. Clair Lake and River

  1. Charts, 1828-1997

Drawer 33: River Charts--St. Mary's River/Straits of Mackinac

  1. Charts, 1825-1999

Drawer 34: Charts--Welland Canal, New York Canals, Border Lakes

  1. Charts, 1917-1990
    Includes Erie Canal and other New York State Canals, locks, Welland Canal and other charts

Drawer 35: Charts--Border Lakes

  1. Charts, 1964-1985
    Includes lakes in southern Canada and northern United States

Drawer 36: St. Lawrence River Charts

  1. Charts, 1851-1977

Drawer 37: St. Lawrence River Charts

  1. Charts, 1926-1979

Drawer 38: St. Lawrence River Charts

  1. Charts, 1926-1973

Drawer 39: St. Lawrence River Charts

  1. Charts, 1922-1971

Drawer 40: St. Lawrence River Charts

  1. Charts, 1923-1977

Drawer 41: St. Lawrence River Charts

  1. Charts, 1944-1977

Drawer 42: St. Lawrence River Charts

  1. Charts, 1935-1993

Drawer 43: Detroit River Charts

  1. Charts, 1873-2000

Drawer 44: Miscellaneous Charts

  1. Charts, 1935-1987
    Includes Chicago Waterways, Lake Champlain, northern inland lakes

Drawer 45: Miscellaneous Charts

  1. Charts, 1965-2000
    Includes border lakes in New York, Minnesota, Ontario, others

Drawer 46: Lake Erie Charts

  1. Charts, 1991-2002
    Includes harbors for Buffalo, Erie, Ashtabula, Fairport, Cleveland, Lorain, Huron, Sandusky, Toledo, and other charts

Drawer 47: Lake Huron Charts

  1. Charts, 1989-2002
    Includes Saginaw Bay and River, Straits of Mackinac, Les Cheneaux Islands, and other charts

Drawer 48: Lake Michigan Charts

  1. Charts, 1981-2002
    Includes harbors for Milwaukee, Racine, Chicago, Calumet and Indiana, Holland, St. Joseph, Ludington, and other charts

Drawer 49: Lake Ontario Charts

  1. Charts, 1971-2002
    Includes Niagara River and Welland Canal, and harbors for Toronto, Oswego and other charts

Drawer 50: Lake Superior Charts

  1. Charts, 1990-2000
    Includes harbors for Marquette and Presque Isle, Ashland and Washburn, Duluth-Superior and other charts

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