Tough Boats: Great Lakes

In this episode, Globe Trekker adventurer Holly Morris explores the waters that shaped America – the Great Lakes. Covering 94,000 square miles, the Great Lakes are the largest reservoir of fresh water on the planet and one of the world’s busiest waterways. For centuries these waters have been a critical trade artery, determining the history and economy of North America and the world.

Our episode starts in Detroit, where we learn about the river’s role during prohibition in the rum-running trade. We then head up the stunning coast of Lake Huron, exploring some of Michigan’s 3200 miles of lakeshore. In Oscoda we learn about the very first shipping industry – lumber, the history Michigan’s green gold and how boats were used to build America. On the way to the Northern Peninsular Holly gets a head for heights and climbs 550ft up Mackinac Bridge. The views are stunning across the Mackinac straits and the glassy surface of Lakes Michigan and Huron.

It’s not always plain sailing though and on the rugged shoreline of the Shipwreck Coast, Holly joins a team of Marine archaeologists in their search for sunken treasure. Scanning the murky depths of Lake Superior we discover a watery graveyard and the skeletons of unlucky ships, swallowed by the waves.

For the final part of our journey we board the toughest boat of them all, a 1014ft giant on her way to pick up 70,000 tonnes of Montana coal. Spending three days on board, Holly meets the crew of modern day mariners and finds out what life is like living on the lakes. We pass through the treacherous St Mary’s river, navigating and the Soo Locks, the busiest canal system in the world. After 3 days and 2 nights on board, powering across the largest lake in the world, we arrive in our final destination, the twin ports of Duluth and Superior. Its an epic adventure and a story of big industry, modern history and real lives.


with special thanks to


Interlake Steamship Company

NOAA, Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary

Bailey Sisoy Isgro History Tours in Detroit

Detroit Yacht Club

J W Westcott Company

Lumberman’s Monument at Oscoda

North County Museum

Mackinac Bridge Authority

Mackinac State Historic Park

The Grand Hotel, Mackinac Island

The Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum

US Army Corps of Engineers

Midwest Energy

Duluth Seaway Port Authority

Humboldt State University Library

Walter P. Reuther Library, Wayne State University

Dan Vaught,  Aerial Photography

Library of Congress Prints and Photographs

Visit Duluth

Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, Munising

Sault Area Convention & Visitors Bureau

Mackinac Island Convention & Visitors Bureau, Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau

Alpena Area Convention & Visitors Bureau (Alpena & N. Michigan)

Blue Water Convention Centre

Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau

St. Ignace Visitors Bureau

Holiday Inn & Suites, Duluth

Pictured Rocks Inn and Suites, Munising

Plaza Motor Motel, Sault Ste Marie

Lockview Motel, Sault Ste Marie

Island House Hotel, Mackinac Island

Ramada hotel in Alpena, Michigan (formerly Sanctuary Inn):

AmericInn Lodge & Suites, Oscoda

Double Tree by Hilton Hotel, Port Huron

Hilton Garden Inn Detroit, Downtown

The Inn On Ferry Street, Detroit

Bavarian Haus St Ignace