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A large lowland basin formed over two million years ago as a result of an eastern flowing river that existed well before the Pleistocene ice ages.
This ancient drainage system was destroyed by the first major glacier in the area, while it deepened and enlarged the lowland areas, allowing water to settle and form a lake.
Kelleys Island was depicted by the Chicago Tribune as having charms that were "more subtle" than Put-in-Bay, and offers amenities such as beach lounging, hiking, biking and "marveling at deep glacial grooves left in limestone." Pelee Island is the largest of Erie's islands, accessible by ferry from Leamington, Ontario and Sandusky, Ohio.
The island has a "fragile and unique ecosystem" with plants rarely found in Canada, such as wild hyacinth, yellow horse gentian (Triosteum angustifolium) and prickly pear cactus, as well as two endangered snakes, the blue racer and the Lake Erie water snake.
Lake Erie is the shallowest of the Great Lakes because the ice was relatively thin and lacked erosion power when it reached that far south, according to one view.
As many as three glaciers advanced and retreated over the land causing temporary lakes to form in the time periods in between each of them.
Several islands are found in the western end of the lake; these belong to Ohio except for Pelee Island and eight neighboring islands, which are part of Ontario.
The shallowest section of Lake Erie is the western basin where depths average only 25 to 30 feet (7.6 to 9.1 m); as a result, "the slightest breeze can kick up lively waves," according to a New York Times reporter in 2004.
Sometimes fierce waves springing up unexpectedly have led to dramatic rescues; in one instance, a Cleveland resident trying to measure the dock near his house became trapped but was rescued by a fire department diver from Avon Lake, Ohio: Lake Erie is primarily fed by the Detroit River (from Lake Huron and Lake St.
Some outflow occurs via the Welland Canal, part of the St.
Lawrence Seaway, which diverts water for ship passages from Port Colborne, Ontario on Lake Erie, to St.