Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
|Sleeping Bear Dunes|
|Nearest Cities||Traverse City, Michigan|
|Area||71,176 acres |
|Date of establishment||October 21, 1970|
|Governing body||National Park Service|
|IUCN category||II (National Park)|
The park covers a 35 mile (60 km) area of Lake Michigan's eastern coastline, as well as North and South Manitou Islands. The park was established primarily for its outstanding natural features, including forests, beaches, dune formations, and ancient glacial phenomena. The Lakeshore also contains many cultural features including the 1871 South Manitou Island Lighthouse , three former Life-Saving Service/Coast Guard Stations and an extensive rural historic farm district. The park was authorized on October 21, 1970.
The park is named after the Chippewa legend of the sleeping bear. According to the legend, an enormous forest fire on the western shore of Lake Michigan (now Wisconsin) drove a mother bear and her two cubs into the lake for shelter, determined to reach the opposite shore. After many miles of swimming, the two cubs lagged behind. When the mother bear reached the shore, she waited on the top of a high bluff. The cubs, exhausted, drowned in the lake, but the mother bear stayed and waited in hopes that her cubs would finally appear. Impressed by the mother bear's determination and faith, the Great Spirit created two islands (North and South Manitou Island) to commemorate the cubs, and the winds buried the sleeping bear under the sands of the dunes where she waits to this day. The location of the "bear" is a patch of dark sand, which once covered the entire bluff top and was visible from the lake. Wind and erosion have caused the "bear" to be greatly reduced in size over the years.
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