The World’s Largest Freshwater Sandbar

Barkers & WI Point 047

Even though Wisconsin Point on Lake Superior is not truly part of “the world’s largest freshwater sandbar,” it’s still pretty.

It’s a common local point of pride in Duluth to say that Minnesota Point (a.k.a. Park Point) and Wisconsin Point form the “World’s Largest Freshwater Sandbar.” I am sorry to burst the community bubble but . . . NOT.

Way back so many years ago I can’t even find it on the Internet, Duluth sent a delegation of kayakers to Lake Baikal in Russia. They returned with tales of a sandbar or two on this freshwater lake that were even larger than MN/WI points. Maybe I was the only one who listened then because local tourism organizations and media outlets continued to refer to our sandbar as the “world’s largest.”

A couple of years ago (2014), I decided to fact-check the claim because I was editing a government report that repeated it. Lo and behold, I found a provincial park in Canada that claimed the same thing (Sandbanks Provincial Park).

I also asked several scientific types who are in the know about such things and received a response from a researcher at the University of Minnesota Duluth’s Large Lakes Observatory. Prof. Ted Ozersky did some Google Map comparisons and found that Jarki Island at the northernmost tip of Lake Baikal sports a sandbar that is 18 kilometers long. MN/WI points are 16 km long.

He also found a series of long sandbars on Proval Bay along the eastern shore of Lake Baikal that collectively stretch for 40 km.

So, in the document I was editing, I changed the wording to MN/WI points as comprising “one of the largest freshwater sandbars in the world.”

The issue arose again just last week when a fellow blogger made the “world’s largest” claim in his post. Why? Because he saw it elsewhere on the Web.

I figure it’s high time to get definitive news out on the Web that, alas, Minnesota and Wisconsin Points ARE NOT the largest freshwater sandbar in the world. Even the park in Canada has downgraded their claim to say instead that they have the “world’s largest baymouth barrier dune formation.”

In short, it’s okay to say that MN/WI points are the largest freshwater sandbar in the country, or one of the largest freshwater sandbars in the world, but not “THE largest freshwater sandbar in the world.”

Class dismissed.


6 thoughts on “The World’s Largest Freshwater Sandbar

  1. Wow. Even though as a journalist I know a writer has to be careful when anyone totes being the first, or the biggest or the most best anything. I may have been one of the writers to repeat that Park Point was the world’s largest freshwater sandbar. I won’t do it anymore.

    • Hi Naomi! Yes, it’s one of those facts that everyone thinks is true because they’ve heard it so many times. I might have never checked on it if I hadn’t heard from the kayakers who saw the longer sandbars firsthand.

  2. LOL, this is awesome. HA HA. This really is a hobby horse of yours! Also, I’m pretty doggone honored to be the “fellow blogger” who prompted the outburst of truth to power! Keep on keepin’ on with the conversation. Good stuff….

    • Hi Eddy! Thank you for getting me all riled up about this topic. It made me realize I need to share my vast treasure trove of obscure knowledge with the world if I want to correct the misconception. I also sicced the editor of a certain locally published magazine on the topic. It will be interesting to see what they come up with. Yours, in science writerly ranting. Marie

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