National Geographic : 1897 Apr
120 AREA AND DRAINAGE BASIN OF LAKE SUPERIOR of six (when St Clair is included), but of seven, and Nipigon is the seventh and most distant. Nipigon lake is about 40 miles north of Lake Superior and is 850 feet above sea-level. Nipigon river, about 50 miles long, has therefore a fall of 250 feet. It is a picturesque stream, full of rapids and full of fish. The bay, stream, and lake which bear the name of Nipigon (meaning " dirty water ") are said to furnish the best fishing in the Lake Superior basin. Lake Nipigon is oval in form, about 60 miles long, north and south, and 50 miles broad, with a surface area of 2,900 square miles. Its coasts are very much indented, and it contains several hundred islands and islets. The greatest depth so far reported is 540 feet, which would bring its bottom below that of Lake Erie, and only 310 feet above sea-level. The erosion at the outlet is strong, and the fall is reported to be wearing away at the rate of 10 feet per century, in which case Lake Nipigon will at no very distant day dwindle to more mod est proportions. The lake occupies a small drainage basin, the land area of which hardly surpasses the water area. Its princi pal feeder is the Ombalika river, which rises in Summit lake, 40 or 50 miles to the north of Lake Nipigon. This lake is said to lie on the " Height of Land " or watershed between Hudson bay and the St Lawrence basin, and its waters are reputed to flow both ways, part into Nipigon and part, by way of the Albany river, into James bay. There are several other streams on the north shore which are 100 miles or more long, namely, the Pic, the White, and the Magpie, while the Michipicoten does not fall far below this length. The last mentioned was well known to the voyageurs, as it was a part of the regular route from Lake Superior to James bay. At its mouth was the Michipicoten house, which, with Fort William, on Thunder bay, formed trading centers on the north shore a century or more ago, when the western states were an almost unbroken wilderness. Indeed, the north shore of Lake Superior echoed to the busy hum of a considerable commerce a century before the south shore began to attract attention. The history of these two old stations of the Hudson's Bay Company goes back to a time so distant that Agassiz's visit to Lake Superior in 1848 is relatively a recent event.