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What if the Great Lakes never existed?
#1
If you look at a list of the USA's largest lakes, you'll notice that the five Great Lakes (Superior, Huron, Michigan, Erie, Ontario) occupy the top five spots. They're such a core part of this region's identity that it's impossible to imagine what it'd be like if they didn't exist.

Or is it? The following AlternateHistoryHub video attempts to do just that:



You'd be forgiven for thinking the impact on world history would be localised to this region. However, as the video explains, the effects would be far more widespread than that:

  • Without Lake Ontario, there is no Saint Lawrence River. Without this river, New France never expands beyond the north-eastern coast of Quebec - so, there's most likely no Montreal, no Detroit and no St Louis (there may or may not still be a New Orleans). Instead, New France expands further down the East Coast - into what we know in OTL as New England. (There may well be a war between England and France over this - but the North American front of this war would end in a decisive English victory, forcing France off the continent altogether, as with the Dutch in New Amsterdam)

  • The Seven Years War doesn't happen, since there are no French colonies in North America to spark it. On the one hand, this means Great Britain doesn't achieve the vast territorial expansion in North America that it did in the OTL 1750s. On the other hand, it also means Great Britain doesn't get into debt, so it doesn't raise taxes on its own citizens... or the colonists, for that matter. Therefore, there's no American Revolution in the late 1700s (of course, the Thirteen Colonies would become independent at some point, but not when they did for the reasons that they did). This in turn means no French Revolution... and, we've totally changed world history now :lol: .

  • Going back to the British colonies... without the Great Lakes, westward expansion is drastically slowed. There's no Erie Canal, and the narrator also argues that there wouldn't be an Ohio River (since this was created by the same glaciation that created the Great Lakes - and, for the purposes of his video, he's assuming that this glaciation didn't extend so far south). What there would be, however, is the Teays River - whose basin covered much of OH and WV. Westward expansion would have centred around this - but, so would a great many Native American tribes, so warfare would have been inevitable...

  • The net effect of all of this is to push settlement further south: instead of running along the Great Lakes, westward expansion would follow the Teays River, and then the Mississippi (to which the Teays was connected). Since the settlers are all further south, there is no Canada in this timeline: instead, the area we know as 'Canada' simply remains populated by natives.

  • Eventually, in the mid-19th century, the issue of slavery would rear its ugly head. In this alternate timeline, the South is still in the British Empire when the UK outlaws slavery... and, it's not going to take kindly to the 'abolition' decision being taken by its colonial overlords. It's not certain whether the South would win - but, if they did, then it's likely that the North would want to remain very closely tied to Britain, for their own protection.



I think it's fair to say that the Butterfly Effect completely took over this timeline :lol: . So, to maintain some parallels to real-world history, I'd like to propose another alternative. Perhaps Britain overextends itself in the late 1700s (by trying and failing to start more colonies elsewhere in the world); then it gets into debt; and then it raises taxes on the colonists as in OTL. Then, this timeline really does get its own American Revolution around the same time as in OTL, so we don't get all these butterflies with the French Revolution and so on, and the USA still exists (albeit a bit further south than its OTL counterpart).

So, in my altered version of the timeline (where we do get a USA in the late 1700s after all), what does the history of this alternate USA look like?
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#2
Other random stuff
Travis City, MI may not be the Cherry Capital of the World
The University of Michigan - Ohio State University rivalry may not be considered as one of the greatest of all time
The rivalry is from two factors: UofM helped the OSU football team get started and 2) the Teledo War
The SS Edmond Fitzgerald would not have sunk (likely never build)
And Gordon Lightfoot's "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald would not be played on local radio every November

The Great Lakes Storm of 1913 would have been less notable

Fort Mackinaw (mainland) and Fort Mackinac (island) (and a smaller one on the island too)may not have been built.

Fort Mackinac may not have been invaded during the War of 1812

Fort Detroit may not have been attacked during the War of 1812

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1996_Lake_Huron_cyclone may not have been a thing

and this is just what I can think of off top of my head.

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#3
Well, if the Great Lakes never existed then all we would have are the generic lakes! Har har! :D

It would certainly change a lot if they didn't exist.  Borders, rivers, trade....creation of territories....
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#4
(08-15-2019, 11:48 PM)Lurker101 Wrote: Other random stuff
Travis City, MI may not be the Cherry Capital of the World
The University of Michigan - Ohio State University rivalry may not be considered as one of the greatest of all time
The rivalry is from two factors: UofM helped the OSU football team get started and 2) the Teledo War
The SS Edmond Fitzgerald would not have sunk (likely never build)
And Gordon Lightfoot's "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald would not be played on local radio every November

The Great Lakes Storm of 1913 would have been less notable

Fort Mackinaw (mainland) and Fort Mackinac (island) (and a smaller one on the island too)may not have been built.

Fort Mackinac may not have been invaded during the War of 1812

Fort Detroit may not have been attacked during the War of 1812

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1996_Lake_Huron_cyclone may not have been a thing

and this is just what I can think of off top of my head.

Yeah, the War of 1812 ones seem like a pretty safe bet. In the video's timeline, the War of 1812 wouldn't even happen, because the USA would all still be part of the British Empire in 1812 :P . In my timeline, I expect there would still be some analogue to the War of 1812, but the forts would probably all be in different places further south.

(Also, about the cyclone: I wonder whether the population being shifted further south means that cyclones would be more devastating in this alternate universe? There will probably be some that didn't cause major casualties in the real world, but do in this one :( !)

(08-16-2019, 01:17 PM)Mahkah Wrote: Well, if the Great Lakes never existed then all we would have are the generic lakes! Har har! :D

It would certainly change a lot if they didn't exist.  Borders, rivers, trade....creation of territories....

Yes, of course. Minnesota would still have all of its regular lakes, and I guess Michigan would still have all of its potholes that become lakes when it rains :lol: .
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#5
(08-16-2019, 06:20 PM)Kyng Wrote:
(08-15-2019, 11:48 PM)Lurker101 Wrote: Other random stuff
Travis City, MI may not be the Cherry Capital of the World
The University of Michigan - Ohio State University rivalry may not be considered as one of the greatest of all time
The rivalry is from two factors: UofM helped the OSU football team get started and 2) the Teledo War
The SS Edmond Fitzgerald would not have sunk (likely never build)
And Gordon Lightfoot's "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald would not be played on local radio every November

The Great Lakes Storm of 1913 would have been less notable

Fort Mackinaw (mainland) and Fort Mackinac (island) (and a smaller one on the island too)may not have been built.

Fort Mackinac may not have been invaded during the War of 1812

Fort Detroit may not have been attacked during the War of 1812

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1996_Lake_Huron_cyclone may not have been a thing

and this is just what I can think of off top of my head.

Yeah, the War of 1812 ones seem like a pretty safe bet. In the video's timeline, the War of 1812 wouldn't even happen, because the USA would all still be part of the British Empire in 1812 :P . In my timeline, I expect there would still be some analogue to the War of 1812, but the forts would probably all be in different places further south.

(Also, about the cyclone: I wonder whether the population being shifted further south means that cyclones would be more devastating in this alternate universe? There will probably be some that didn't cause major casualties in the real world, but do in this one :( !)

I kind oif doubt it, as the population centers were in New England before the use of the great lakes anyways. New English lines up with Europe more so then the South of the US.
I don't think there would be that much of a population change from New England to the south (and well if there was no US revolution, some of LA and a good part of the Midwest and western mountain states would still be part of France (or surrendered to the British at the end of the Napoleonic wars)

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“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”
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The EU killed the Internet star
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