Bodies of Water in Ohio

Ohio abounds with water, in large forms and small.
Ohio abounds with water, in large forms and small. (Image: John Grant/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Ohio shares a large portion of its northern border with Lake Erie and its eastern border with the Ohio River. With its proximity to these major waterways, Ohio abounds with smaller bodies of water flowing to join them. These waters range in size from small lakes to wide, flowing rivers.

Cuyahoga River

Best known as the river that caught fire in the late 1960s and helped start the environmental movement in the United States, the Cuyahoga River flows through north-central Ohio. It runs nearly 100 miles through the state, beginng its trek flowing southwest and then taking a sharp bend northward to flow into Lake Erie. During the earlier part of the 20th century, the Cuyahoga was used for waste disposal, leading to several fires burning in the river's pollution. After the 1960s fire, more stringent water pollution standards helped launch an ongoing cleanup of the river.

Great Miami River

Flowing 170 miles in west-central Ohio, the Great Miami River flows southwest through the state to enter the Ohio River west of Cincinnati. The river is an important recreation spot and hosts a festival bearing its name every year.

Indian Lake

The birthplace of the Great Miami River, Indian lake is located southeast of Lima, Ohio. Several small rivers flow into the lake, including Blackhawk Creek and Van Horn Creek. Originally swamp and a group of smaller lakes, Indian Lake was made into a reservoir to feed water into the Erie Canal and became known as Lewistown Reservoir. The reservoir was later decommissioned, and the lake became the centerpiece of a state park and resumed its old name.

Mosquito Lake

A man-made lake on Mosquito Creek, the lake was created as part of a plan to control flooding on rivers the creek fed into, as well as provide a water supply for nearby towns and help control pollution from nearby steel mills. Today, the lake is part of the state park of the same name, and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources manages the lake.

Buckeye Lake

Known to the early settlers of Ohio as Great Swamp, Buckeye Lake was originally a glacial swamp left from the last North American Ice Age. When canals were being developed in the growing state, the outlets of Great Swamp were dammed to divert water to canals. A cranberry-sphaghum bog broke loose from the floor of the new lake, moving to the surface, where it exists as possibly the only floating island of its type.

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