Saturday, February 2, 2008

Wisconsin... Land of 15,000 Lakes

Wisconsin vs. Minnesota...Who has more lakes? No two websites, books, or DNR pamphlets can come to an agreement on this. One recently published book has Wisconsin checking in at 14,927 lakes, Minnesota at 11,842. The State DNR website has Wisconsin at 15,081 lakes. The Minnesota DNR lists 11,842 lakes(10 acres or more). At least Minnesota is consistent - they always clock in at 11,842. Wisconsin sources report everything from 12,348 to 15,081 to 14,324 and often neglect to specify the acreage of the numbered lakes. My own answer is, "I don't know."

Satellite imaging at gives Wisconsin "...nearly 15,000 lakes"(I love those accurate figures)and Minnesota "...over 10,000."
Whats the deal here? Should our neighbor to the west put it's convicts to work and change it's "Land of 10,000 Lakes" license plates? Does our neighbor to the west even have convicts?...and didn't they surrender the day after 9/11?. Here are some facts, courtesy a detailed 2 year study of all bodies of water contained in the continental United States....
If you include all bodies of water smaller than 10 acres(In Wisconsin, we call them "ponds"),then Minnesota has more "lakes" than Wisconsin. However, using this criteria, Texas, Missouri, Florida, Oklahoma and Mississippi all have more lakes than Minnesota. Minnesota does have more total lake/pond/pothole acreage than Wisconsin. In conclusion, It all depends upon the definition of how big a lake must be in order to be called a "lake".

Wisconsin Water Facts
1 - Door County has more lighthouses and miles of shoreline than any other county in the United States.
2 - Wisconsin Dells is the Water Park capital of the world. The entire Water Park concept was pioneered there.
3 - Wisconsin has about 1.2 million billion gallons (4.5 million billion liters) of water underground—if it were above ground, it would submerge the state in 100 feet (30 meters) of water.
4 - Wisconsin has more than 15,000 lakes and 13,500 miles (21,700 kilometers) of navigable streams and rivers.
5 - With 28 lakes, the Eagle River chain of lakes is the largest in the world.
6 - Wisconsin is the home of the inboard/outboard motor industry. Norwegian Ole Evinrude of Jefferson, Wisconsin is the "Father of the Outboard Motor."

I would like to add that water skiing was invented in Minnesota, and that the Gopher State has more boats per person (1 for every 6 people) than we do...and that Garrison Kiellor has property on the Wisconsin River.


Headless Blogger said...

You could write dozens of posts on the Wisconsin small boat industry through the 20th century. Thompson Boats of Peshtigo was one of the most successful and still has a devoted following, years after they went out of business.

Andreas Jordahl Rhude has spent a lot of time at the WHS researching this history and is probably the world authority on vintage WI small boats.

flasputnik said...

Thanks so much! You just gave me
a dozen post ideas. Thanks too for the Andreas Jordahl Rhude (excellent Norwegian name)connection. You made my afternoon.

Anonymous said...

Wisconsin professes to have 15,081 lakes.


However, 9,037 of these lakes are unnamed and average only roughly four acres in size, leaving only 6044 that are large enough to be named.

In contrast, Minnesota has 11,842 named lakes larger than ten acres.


When including unnamed lakes over ten acres the number is 15,291. Various estimates propose that if Minnesota were to lower its cut-off threshold to five acres the number could approach or exceed 20,000 lakes.

In addition, when considering the surface area of each of the states five largest lakes (great lakes excluded), Wisconsin's largest cover 204,105 acres whereas Minnesota's top five total 896,387. Add to that the fact that the surface area of Minnesota's largest eight lakes is greater than all 15,081 "lakes" in Wisconsin. Minnesota also possesses more shoreline than California, Florida, and Hawaii combined.

Anonymous said...

"If you include all bodies of water smaller than 10 acres(In Wisconsin, we call them "ponds"),then Minnesota has more "lakes" than Wisconsin. However, using this criteria, Texas, Missouri, Florida, Oklahoma and Mississippi all have more lakes than Minnesota."

Too bad for WI that this "pond" argument works exactly in 'L'Etoile du Nord's' favor. Still, if you can roll all your 'Big Uncle Goofs' onto their sides and out of the Grandma's Lemonade you might find enough Everclear and Blatz to unify the Great Lakes

Anonymous said...

Regardless of any water body acerage criteria, Minnesota and Wisconsin have the most beautiful freshwater lakes in the world. Take care of it. Most people don't realize how important freshwater will be in the very near future years!

Anonymous said...

If Minnesota used Wisconsin's criteria for what is considered a "lake", then Minnesota would have well over 20,000 lakes. Minnesota requires a body of water to be over 10 acres before it is called a lake. If Wisconsin were held to the same criteria, it would have roughly 6,000 lakes. In fact, the 8 largest inland lakes in Minnesota have greater water surface than all of Wisconsin's 15,000 "lakes" combined.

Good try though.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand why people keep saying MN has more lakes than WI using the 10 acre criteria, but then add "Great Lakes excluded". The Great Lakes are, in fact, a part of WI waters. Thousands of miles of shoreline accessible in WI. Wouldn't that officially make WI the winner?

Anonymous said...

If you want to count the great lakes then you will have bow down to Michigan...lets not go there.

Anonymous said...

Wisconsin counts 1 acre ponds as "lakes". If Minnesota were to include every one acre pond, Minnesota would have well over 50,000 lakes.

There is absolutely no comparison. Wisconsin has 6,000 lakes larger than 10 acres while Minnesota has nearly 12,000 over 10 acres in size.

Anonymous said...

Geez .... quit debating this and enjoy the beauty in Wisconsin or Minnesota. On the other side of the coin, I heard the state of Ohio does not have a single natural lake outside of the northern shore on Lake Erie. Feel my pain.

Anonymous said...

I love how all the Minnesotans keep repeating the 10 acre lake qualifier in the comments even though its already in the article. lol