Great Lakes Essential Resources: Military
The Great Lakes have played a vital role in several major North American conflicts, especially during the War of 1812. Even in the 20th century, the Great Lakes region was used during the World Wars for training, manufacturing, and transporting valuable materials.
Many historical fortifications remain standing in some form or another and are open to visitors as museum or parks.
- Military History of the Upper Great Lakes (MHUGL)Student projects from Michigan Tech's SS3505 Military History of the United States, on the people, places, and objects involving our military history in the upper Great Lakes region.
War of 1812
- U.S. Army Campaigns of the War of 1812: The Canadian Theater 1813Published by Center of Military History. Written by Richard V. Barbuto.
- Constitution Sailors in the Battle of Lake Erie (Marc Collins)From history.navy.mil
- Discover the War of the Great Lakesfrom the Great Lakes Guide
World War II
- NOAA in the Great Lakes Supports Inter-Agency Search for WWII Aircraft"Did you know that there are about 120 World War II era aircraft lying at the bottom of Lake Michigan? The Navy used these aircraft to train and certify pilots to take off and land from aircraft carriers during World War II. U.S. Naval operations along Lake Michigan, one of the Great Lakes, began in 1923. Between 1923 and 1942, operations expanded as the Navy built hangars, airfields, and landing strips across the village of Glenview, Illinois. By 1942, the Navy had a robust presence on the shores of Lake Michigan. With the U.S. entrance into World War II, the Navy needed a location to train carrier pilots. The growing threat of enemy vessels and mines along the Pacific and Atlantic coastlines and an already strong Naval presence in the area made Lake Michigan the safest location for carrier training."
- The Soo Locks in WWII"The Soo Locks played a critical role during World War II as the passageway through which 90% of the nation’s iron ore was shipped. As the war escalated paranoia grew that the Locks would be targeted by German saboteurs or long range bombers. To deal with this potential threat, military presence in Sault Sainte Marie grew considerably throughout the war."
Great Lakes Fortifications
Numerous military installations such as forts, bases, missile parks, and shipbuilders lay along and around the Great Lakes. Besides military use, forts also served as centers of commerce and trade. Many of the forts are listed below but patrons can view a full list of these military installations here. The list covers past and present fortifications. Present day country location or site are indicated next to each fort.
Fort Niagara (U.S.) | Fort Ontario (U.S.) | Fort York (Canada)
Fort Erie (Canada) | Fort Meigsº (U.S.) | Fort Miamiº (U.S.) | Fort Malden¹ (Canada) | Fort Wayne² (U.S.)
Fort Gratiot & Lighthouse (U.S.) | Fort Drummond (also known as Fort Collier) (U.S.) | Fort St. Joseph (Canada) | Fort Mackinac (U.S.)
Fort Howard (U.S.)
Fort Wilkins (U.S.) | Fort Brady³ (U.S.)
Other Nearby Forts
ºFort Meigs and Fort Miami are/were located on the Maumee River, which connects to Lake Erie.
¹The site of Fort Malden is located at the mouth of the Detroit River, connecting to Lake Erie.
²Fort Wayne sits on the Detroit River, linking Lake Erie to Lake St. Clair.
³Fort Brady sits on Saint Mary’s River, which connects Lakes Superior and Huron.