Learn About Geography the Fun Way: Great Lakes Trivia You’ve Never Even Heard

Geography is one of the most beautiful subjects on earth, and it definitely doesn’t have to be boring if you know how to look at facts and how to find unique facts about common geographical places like the Great Lakes. The following trivia facts about the Great Lakes will make you wonder whether you should rewrite your children’s geography textbooks yourself: 

·       Driving around the lakes would take an enormous amount of time to complete. If you’re looking for a fun and extremely long road trip, then this is it. Going around the Great Lakes by car will provide you with an impressive 6,500 miles of fun on the road.

·       An unlikely fire that started in 1969 on the Cuyahoga River was actually the catalyzing trigger that spawned a new movement towards clearing up the waterway responsible for feeding Lake Erie and starting a series of environmental reforms that have transformed the way we look at the Great Lakes today.

·       Do you know how many islands the Great Lakes contain? The actual number is even higher than 35,000. The biggest of them is Manitoulin in Lake Huron, which is considered to this day to be the largest freshwater island in the world, measuring 1,068 square miles.

Find wonderful Great Lakes art at interesting galleries found throughout the Great Lakes area.

Great Lakes art

The Creative Way to Learn About History: Start Painting It!

If you were like me in school, you probably thought about history as a pretty boring subject. However, as everything, history can show its true value if it’s regarded through the right “lenses.” And there are no better ways to see something than through the eyes of an artist. 

When we look at the figures and dates associated with a battle like the Battle of Hastings, we can’t really imagine the actual scenes and the brutality of war. Also, when we read about kings, treaties and pacts between various allies, it’s hard to imagine how everything went down and where the meetings took place. So history can get boring pretty fast if all you have is information. 

historical paintings - marine art

However, when you start repainting some paintings depicting famous battles, scenes or personalities from history, things will start changing pretty fast. Not only will you feel like you’re actually there, taking part in a historic scene that came to life, but you’ll actually start getting addicted to that feeling. 

Also, painting historic scenes can help you learn the facts and figures a lot more easily too. When the painting is suggestive enough and tells the story of a certain battle or scene quite faithfully, then it’s easy to associate the scene with the information you’ve read in your history book.

Painting historical marine art, illustrations of famous ships, shipwrecks, or battle scenes will also give you historical references and timelines.

Exploring the Art of Painting: Why Are Ships so Popular Among Painters?

If you walk into a pub or a restaurant by the port, chances are you’ll find a painting with a large ship or a boat showing right in the middle. However, if you walk into a painting class or walk in on one of your family members practicing their painting skills, then you might actually find the very same scene. So, why is it that maritime art and ships are such a popular topic among painters? 

maritime art

From an artistic standpoint, the sea and the ships that navigate it actually carry a lot of weight. The uneven motion of the sea and the smooth edges of a ship’s contour makes it possible to almost capture the movement of the waves and the ship that passes through them in even a beginner’s painting or drawing. Simply put, ships look very artistic almost regardless of who is drawing them. 

Another reason why maritime art is so popular has to do with symbols. From a symbolic perspective, ships carry even more weight. They can be regarded as symbols of life and of the artist’s journey through the troubled ocean of life. They can also be seen as a person’s willingness or determination to take charge of their life and navigate that ocean despite the fact that they are constantly faced with agitated waves and the peril of being lost at sea.

Popular Maritime Sayings


The sea lore is rich and provides endless inspiration to artists creating memorable nautical prints, writers, artists, filmmakers and even regular people. In fact, although you may not be aware of it, you may be using some saying and phrases in everyday conversations that originated aboard ships. 

While the original context may be lost or irrelevant, these sayings stay fresh and meaningful even today. And so we keep using them. But which one are they, and what is their story? 

1. “Showing One’s True Colors”

We use this saying to describe someone who reveals its true character after playing a role in order to achieve certain benefits (a promotion at work, getting acquainted with an influential person). 

The origin of this saying comes from the days of battles at sea. It was not unheard of for a ship to bear the flags and pennants of the enemy in order to penetrate their harbor and then reveal their true flags (color) and open a devastating attack. 

2. “To Be Caught Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea”

This saying describes an impossible situation, where no acceptable solution can be found. For sailors, the devil was the name of the seam at the bottom of the ship, from bow to stern. This seam was prone to breaking and leaking – thus the sailors had to choose between waiting to be drowned by water entering the ship and jumping in the ocean. 

3. “Learn the Ropes”

This is the advice a new hire is given – to become familiar with the work procedures and company culture as soon as possible. For sailors, learning the ropes was very important, because they were used for handling the various types of sails. During a storm, knowing how to handle the ropes properly made the difference between life and death.

Maritime Folklore: What's Real and What's Not

Every profession in the world has its treasure trove of legends, myths and superstitions. A chimney sweeper present at a wedding will bring the young couple good luck. But crossing paths with a priest as you go about your business will bring you bad luck.


However, few professions have a richer folklore than that of sailors. Centuries of exploration, trade, piracy and whaling have created a seemingly endless list of unwritten rules. While some of them seem hilarious, they used to be taken very seriously centuries – and even decades – ago. But how true are they? Let us take a look at some of them:

 1. The Name of a Ship Ending in “A” Brings Bad Luck

This myth originates in the dark years of the Great War, when both Britannia and Lusitania went down under ceaseless fire from German torpedoes. However, the USS Saratoga was extremely successful and lucky during the intense maritime battles of World War II.

 2. Renaming a Ship Is a Bad Omen

For seafaring folk, getting the name of the ship right from the start is very important. Changing the name of the ship is seen as very bad luck. A classic example in this respect is Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Arctic explorer Endurance, which used to bear the name of Aurora. The 1914 expedition ended in disaster, when the ship got trapped in ice and then crushed.

 3. No Women On Board

An old superstition said that women aboard a ship bring bad luck. This myth was certainly fueled by fears that sailors would be distracted from their work by the presence of the fair sex. Also, jealousy could tear apart the unity of the crew. At the present, both men and women serve with professionalism and dignity aboard both civil and military ships.

For beautiful nautical paintings, visit the Maritime History In Art.

How Are Ships Named?


There are many artists and writers who have shared the beauty of nautical artwork through drawings, paintings, and books.

USS Enterprise, USS Nimitz, USS Utah – these are well-known names of famous US battleships that fought with honor and glory in the two world wars. But how exactly did they get their names? Who and how decides on the name of a new ship? 

A Clearly Regulated Process

The US Navy has strict procedures concerning the person in charge and the kind of name a ship can be given. Thus, the Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) has the responsibility and honor of naming a ship. The SECNAV acts under the direction of the President of the United States and in observance of rules set by the Congress.  

The rules for naming ships are set according to the class of each vessel. Thus: 

1. Aircraft Carriers Are Named after Past Presidents

The 14 aircraft carriers in the US Navy fleet bead the names of deceased US Presidents and two Members of Congress. 

2. Destroyers Honor Members of the Navy

Names of destroyer ships include members of the Marine Corps, of the Coast Guard and Secretaries of the Navy. 

3. Littoral Combat Ships Bear the Names of US Cities

Some of the best known ships of this class are USS Coronado, USS Forth Worth, USS Omaha and USS Indianapolis. 

4. Amphibious Assault Ships Pay Homage to Epic Battles

The exception to this rule is USS America. But you certainly heard of USS Iwo Jima, USS Tripoli and USS Nassau. 

5. San Antonio Class Amphibious Ships Are Named after Major US Cities

Some of these cities are the victims of the 9/11 attacks. Other names include USS Portland, USS Anchorage and USS San Diego.

Fun Facts about the Great Lakes


The Great Lakes at the border between USA and Canada are five in number. From west to east, they are: Lake Superior, Lake Huron, Lake Michigan, Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. They were formed approximately 12,000 years ago when glaciers started to melt. 

These lakes hold a huge proportion of the total surface freshwater of the North American continent – 84%. And each of them has its specific particularities. Let us discover the most unexpected and fun facts about the Great Lakes. 

1. Lake Superior Does Not Behave Like a Lake

It is more like an inland sea, because it has tides. It also holds enough water (3,000,000 million gallons) to cover both North and South America with 1 foot of fresh water.  

2. Lake Erie Allegedly Harbors a Monster

The monster named Bessie was described as having between 30 and 40 feet in length. It was first sighted in 1973. Alas, only inconclusive and grainy photos exist of it, making Bessie as elusive as the more famous Nessie monster of Loch Ness. 

3. Lake Huron Hides a Few Secrets

One of them is a complex of animal-herding structures which are approximately 9,000 years old. Prehistoric humans used to inhabit the area of the lake before the glaciers melted. 

Lake Huron also has massive sinkholes with a combination of chemical and organic substances that replicate ocean conditions of 3 million years ago.

Maritime History in Art is the place to go for paintings by artist Jim Clary depicting the Great Lakes, famous shipwrecks, and other beautiful pieces of nautical art.