Wisconsin Water Library


Legends and Lore of the Great Lakes

Many people are fascinated by tales of the extraordinary and the unknown, so it makes sense that the myserious Great Lakes and other large bodies of water have inspired far-fetched tall tales over the years. The library has a collection of folklore, legends and creation stories about water and the Great Lakes.

The Legend of Sleeping Bear

By Kathy-Jo Wargin. Chelsea, Mich.: Sleeping Bear Press, 1998.

In this retelling of an Ojibwe Indian tale, a mother bear loses sight of her two cubs as they all attempt to escape a forest fire by swimming across Lake Michigan.

Shipwrecks and Lost Treasures, Great Lakes: Legends and Lore, Pirates and More!

By Michael J. Varhola. Guilford, Conn.: Globe Pequot, 2008.

Twenty-one riveting stories and illustrations about ships that met their end in the treacherous waters of the Great Lakes.

The Secret of Black Rock

By Joe Todd-Stanton. London: Flying Eye Books, 2017.

This surreal modern folktale tells the story of an adventurous young girl who must protect a peaceful living creature.

A Million Fish… More or Less

By Patricia C. McKissack. New York: Knopf, 1992.

During an outing on the mysterious Bayou Clapateaux, Hugh Thomas claims to catch a million fish. Somehow, he arrives home with only enough fish for breakfast. What happened to all of Hugh’s fish?

Please visit the Wisconsin Water Library online at waterlibrary.aqua.wisc.edu for more information about the Great Lakes and their legends.

Anyone in Wisconsin can borrow these books. Just email askwater@wisc.edu.





The Aquatic Sciences Center is the administrative home of the
University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute & University of Wisconsin Water Resources Institute.

©2011 University of Wisconsin Board of Regents