Maumee River

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Maumee River
Maumee River at Mary Jane Thurston State Park in Grand Rapids, Ohio.jpg
The Maumee River at Grand Rapids, Ohio
Origin Fort Wayne by the confluence of the St. Joseph and St. Marys.
41°04′58″N 85°07′56″W / 41.0827778°N 85.1322222°W / 41.0827778; -85.1322222 (Maumee River origin)
Mouth Lake Erie at Toledo
41°41′58″N 83°27′36″W / 41.6994444°N 83.46°W / 41.6994444; -83.46 (Maumee River mouth)Coordinates: 41°41′58″N 83°27′36″W / 41.6994444°N 83.46°W / 41.6994444; -83.46 (Maumee River mouth)
Basin countries US
Length 137 miles (220 km)
Source elevation 750 ft (229 m)
Mouth elevation 571 ft (174 m)
Avg. discharge 5,297 ft³/s (150 m³/s)
Basin area 6,354 mi² (16,458 km²)

The Maumee River (pronounced /mɔːˈm/)[1] (Shawnee: Hotaawathiipi[2]) is a river running from northeastern Indiana into northwestern Ohio and Lake Erie in the United States. It is formed at the confluence of the St. Joseph and St. Marys rivers, where Fort Wayne, Indiana has developed, and meanders northeastwardly for 137 miles (220 km)[3] through an agricultural region of glacial moraines before flowing into the Maumee Bay of Lake Erie. Toledo, Ohio developed at the Maumee River's mouth. It was designated an Ohio State Scenic River on July 18, 1974. The Maumee watershed is Ohio’s breadbasket, two-thirds farmland, mostly corn and soybeans. The Maumee watershed is the largest of any of the rivers feeding the Great Lakes,[4] and supplies 5 percent of Lake Erie’s water.[5]


Historically the river was also known as the "Miami" in United States treaties with Native Americans. As early as 1671, French colonists called the river was called Miami du Lac, or Miami of the Lake (in contrast to the "Miami of the Ohio" or the Great Miami River). Maumee is an anglicized spelling of the Ottawa or Odawa name for the Miami Indians, Maamii. The Odawa had a village at the mouth of the Maumee River[citation needed] and occupied other territory in northwestern Ohio.

The Battle of Fallen Timbers, the final battle of the Northwest Indian War, was fought 3/4 mile (1.2 km) north of the banks of the Maumee River. After this decisive victory for General Anthony Wayne, Native Americans ceded a twelve mile square tract around Perrysburg and Maumee to the United States by the Treaty of Greenville in 1795.[6] Lands north of the river and downstream of Defiance were ceded in 1807,[7] and the rest of the Maumee River valley was ceded in 1817.[8]

Prior to the development of canals, portages between the rivers were important trade routes. US forces built forts such as Fort Loramie, Fort Recovery, and Fort Defiance. In honor of General Wayne's victory on the banks of the Maumee, the primary bridge crossing the river near downtown Toledo is named the Anthony Wayne Suspension Bridge.

A dispute over control of part of the Maumee River region led to the so-called Toledo War between Ohio and the Michigan Territory.

Agricultural practices along the Maumee River have contributed in the 21st century to high phosphate levels in Lake Erie. This triggered algae blooms in the lake, rendering drinking water from the city of Toledo unsafe for consumption.[5][not in citation given]

Natural history[edit]

The general extent of the Great Black prior to the 19th century.

The Maumee River watershed was once part of the Great Black Swamp, a remnant of Glacial Lake Maumee, the proglacial ancestor of Lake Erie. The 1,500-square-mile (3,900 km2) swamp was a vast network of forests, wetlands, and grasslands, a rich habitat for numerous species of birds, animals, fish and flora. During the nineteenth century, European-American settlers struggled to drain the swamp and to convert the land to farmland; they dramatically altered the habitat, reducing areas where species could flourish.


The mouth of the river at Toledo and Lake Erie is wide and supports considerable commercial traffic, including oil, grain, and coal. About 12 miles (19 km) upstream, in the town of Perrysburg, Ohio, the river becomes much shallower and today supports only recreational navigation above that point. The Miami and Erie Canal was built parallel to and north of the Maumee between Toledo and Defiance, Ohio to enable extended transportation of shipped goods. The canal entered the river at a "slackwater" created by Independence Dam. It exited the river at Defiance and was built to the south, ending at Cincinnati, Ohio. While abandoned for commercial use, portions of the canal's towpath are maintained for recreational use in both Lucas and Henry counties. A restored section of canal, including a canal lock, is operated at Providence Metropark, where visitors can ride an authentic canal boat.

The Wabash and Erie Canal was constructed on the south side of the river, continuing southwest from Defiance to Fort Wayne, Indiana, crossing the "summit" to the Wabash River valley. Both canals were important pre-railway transportation methods in the 1840–60 period.


Map of the Maumee River watershed.

The Maumee has the largest watershed of any Great Lakes river[4] with 8,316 square miles (21,540 km2). Its watershed includes a portion of southern Michigan. In addition to its source tributaries the St. Joseph and St. Marys rivers, the Maumee's principal tributaries are the Auglaize River and the Tiffin River, which join it at Defiance from the south and north, respectively.


The St. Marys River (left) and St. Joseph River (right) converge to form the Maumee River (foreground) in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

There are several small islands in the section of the Maumee River in northwest Ohio. The names of the islands are:[9]

  • Indian Island - near Farnsworth Park west of Toledo
  • Missionary Island - actually several islands; near Farnsworth Park west of Toledo
  • Granger Island - near Waterville, Ohio
  • Butler Island - near Side Cut Metropark
  • Bluegrass Island - part of Side Cut Metropark
  • Audubon Island - the largest island in the Maumee River, formerly McKee's Island or Ewing Island, part of SideCut Park
  • Marengo Island - near Maumee, Ohio
  • Horseshoe Island - near Walbridge Park in Toledo
  • Clark Island - near Walbridge Park in Toledo
  • Corbutt Island - in Toledo
  • Grassy Island - at the mouth of Grassy Creek at Rossford, Ohio.
  • Girty's Island - two miles downstream of Florida, Ohio
  • Preston Island - near Defiance, Ohio
  • Little sisters island-near Rossford,Ohio

Walleye run[edit]

According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the annual walleye run up the Maumee River is one of the largest migrations of riverbound walleyes east of the Mississippi. The migration of the walleye normally starts in early March and runs through the end of April. Although the first week of April is "historically" the peak of the migration, it varies according to environmental conditions. When river flows rise due to snow melt-off and the river water temperature reaches 40 - 50 degrees Fahrenheit, the migration begins. Walleye come to spawn from the western end of Lake Erie, and the Detroit River and Lake St. Clair in Michigan. The most popular method of fishing for the migrating walleye is by wading out into the river and casting.

Cities and towns along the river[edit]

The river in Grand Rapids, Ohio.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Maumee – Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary". Retrieved November 1, 2012. 
  2. ^ "Shawnees Webpage". Shawnee's Reservation. 1997. Retrieved 2013-04-26. 
  3. ^ U.S. Geological Survey. National Hydrography Dataset high-resolution flowline data. The National Map, accessed May 19, 2011
  4. ^ a b "Maumee River Area of Concern". Retrieved 14 October 2011. 
  5. ^ a b Wines, Michael (15 March 2013). "Spring Rain, Then Foul Algae in Ailing Lake Erie". The New York Times. p. 1. 
  6. ^ Stat. 49 - Text of Treaty of Greenville Library of Congress
  7. ^ Stat. 105 - Text of Treaty of Detroit Library of Congress
  8. ^ Stat. 160 - Text of Treaty of Fort Meigs Library of Congress
  9. ^ Sidecut Metropark History

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]