Explore the natural and cultural history of the Lake Superior region.
The geologic story of the Lake Superior region is rooted in fire and ice. Ancient lava flows emerged from a mid-continental rift. As this molten rock cooled, its weight pushed down on the earth’s crust creating a bowl shape that would one day be Gitchi-Gummi. Glaciers scoured the landscape and their melting filled the bowl with water to form Glacial Lake Duluth. Water levels in modern day Lake Superior are hundreds of feet below the level of this ancient lake.
Early fish residents of the region included paddlefish and arctic grayling. These prehistoric fish are now found only in the western states and territories. You can see both in our origins exhibit. Paddlefish are known for their long flat noses, physical similarities to sharks and reliance on plankton for food. Arctic grayling dazzle with their metallic colored scales.