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Lake Monona

Coordinates: 43°4′9″N 89°21′34″W / 43.06917°N 89.35944°W / 43.06917; -89.35944
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Lake Monona
Lake with Monona Terrace and Madison skyline in the distance
Lake Monona is located in Wisconsin
Lake Monona
Lake Monona
LocationDane County, Wisconsin
Coordinates43°4′9″N 89°21′34″W / 43.06917°N 89.35944°W / 43.06917; -89.35944
Primary inflowsYahara River, Starkweather Creek, Murphy Creek
Basin countriesUnited States
Surface area3,274 acres (13 km2)
Average depth27 ft (8.2 m)
Max. depth74 ft (23 m)
Residence time1.1 years
Surface elevation845 ft (258 m)
FrozenAbout 107 days a year
SettlementsMadison, Monona

Lake Monona is a freshwater drainage lake in Dane County, Wisconsin, surrounded on three sides by the city of Madison, Wisconsin, and on the south east side by the city of Monona, Wisconsin.[1] It is the second-largest of a chain of four lakes along the Yahara River (also including Mendota, Kegonsa, and Waubesa) in the area and forms the south shore of the isthmus that forms downtown Madison. The name 'Monona' is a word believed to mean 'beautiful', although the lake was originally named by the Ho-Chunk (Winnebago) 'Tchee-ho-bo-kee-xa-te-la' or 'Teepee Lake'.


View of Lake Monona from Monona Terrace

Lake Monona rests at 43°4′9″N 89°21′34″W / 43.06917°N 89.35944°W / 43.06917; -89.35944. It measures 3,274 acres (13.25 km2), has a mean depth of 27 ft (8.2 m) and a maximum depth of 74 ft (23 m). Its volume is approximately 28 billion US gal (110 million m3) and it has 13 miles (21 km) of shoreline, about 40% of which is publicly owned. The elevation of the lake is 845', regulated by locks at the mouth of the Yahara River at Lake Mendota. Monona is fed by three tributaries: the Yahara River (from Lake Mendota), Starkweather Creek, and Wingra Creek. Lake Monona is typically frozen for 107 days a year, give or take 10 days depending on the season. Access to the lake is by boat ramp.[2][3]

Monona is home to many species of fish and is a popular lake for fishing. Sport fish species include bluegill, lake sturgeon, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, muskellunge (muskie), northern pike, and walleye.

Twenty-six-year-old soul singer Otis Redding died when his plane crashed in Lake Monona on December 10, 1967, during a storm en route to a concert in Madison. The pilot, who was Redding's manager, and four out of the five members of the Bar-Kays (then Otis's backup band) who were on the plane, also died, with the sole-survivor being trumpeter Ben Cauley.[4]

See also



  1. ^ "Lake Monona (Wisconsin)". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey, United States Department of the Interior.
  2. ^ "UW Center for Limnology: data regarding Lake Monona". Archived from the original on 2008-06-19. Retrieved 2008-06-07.
  3. ^ Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Lake Survey Map: Monona Lake, Dane County.
  4. ^ "Find Plane In Lake Silt". The Capital Times, December 11, 1967, pp. 1, 4.