Erie (Ee'ry), the most southern of the five great lakes which empty themselves by the St Lawrence, separates the province of Ontario, in Canada, from Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York. It receives at its western extremity the waters of Lakes Superior, Michigan, and Huron by the river Detroit, and discharges them at its north-east by the Niagara into Lake Ontario. With a length of 240 miles, Erie has a breadth varying from 30 to nearly 60 miles, with an area of 9960 sq. m. It is 8 3/4 feet below Lake Huron, and 326 and 573 respectively above the Ontario and the Atlantic. The shores are for the most part low and clayey. At its south-western extremity are several wooded islands, the largest 14 miles in circumference. It is by far the shallowest of the five great lakes. Its mean depth is 70 feet, its maximum 210 feet; and from this comparative shallowness and the consequent liability to a heavy ground-swell, as well as the small number of good harbours, the navigation is difficult and dangerous; still the amount of traffic is enormous. It is connected by one canal with the Hudson, and by more than one with the Ohio; while, on the British side, it communicates with the Ontario by means of the ship-channel of the Welland Canal. From the beginning of December it remains more or less frozen till March or April. Lake Erie was the scene of a naval defeat of the British by the Americans, September 10, 1813.
Erie, the capital of Erie county, Pennsylvania, on Lake Erie, 88 miles SW. of Buffalo, and 95 NE. of Cleveland. It is a port of entry and important centre of trade, its harbour, one of the largest and best on the lake, being formed by an island 4 miles long, whose name, Presque Isle (Fr., 'peninsula'), preserves the memory of its having been once connected with the mainland. The belt of water thus sheltered forms a natural harbour; it is now protected by a breakwater, is 3 to 4 miles long and 1 mile wide, and varies in depth from 9 to 25 feet. The town's important industrial works include oil-refineries, tanneries, iron-foundries, paper, flouring, and planing mills, factories for railroad cars, engines and boilers, etc. It is a Roman Catholic bishop's see. A natural-gas well was opened here in 1889. Pop. (1870) 19,646; (1880) 27,737; (1900) 52,733.