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Post Bulletin article Finger Lakes
07-31-2018, 05:36 AM
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Post Bulletin article Finger Lakes
In last nights Post Bulletin newspaper an article on the Finger Lakes submitted by the Answer Man columnist.

Editor’s Note: This classic Answer Man first ran Aug. 1, 2013.

Dear Answer Man, I read in the paper recently about the “finger lakes” on the Mississippi River. I’ve lived in the area for 50 years and never heard of the “Finger Lakes.” Where are they?

I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve heard a reference to the “finger lakes” on the big river, so there’s no need to feel ignorant. I certainly don’t.

The finger lakes are long, marshy, backwater lakes on the Minnesota side of the river just below the Alma dam, hard to access except for the most dedicated (and careful) boater. The closest to the western shore, just below the Pioneer Campsite river access, is Clear Lake, and then from west to east, it’s Lower Peterson Lake (not to be confused with Peterson Lake to the north) and the unpoetical 3rd Lake, 2nd Lake and 1st Lake.

That’s where it ends on the navigational chart I was looking at, but the Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center says the finger lakes comprise six interconnected lakes. I checked in with Barry Johnson, with the center in La Crosse, Wis., and he said they consider Schmokers Lake to be the sixth.

“Clear, Lower Peterson and Third lakes all drain into Schmokers, which then drains out through First Lake,” Barry told me by email.

There’s barely enough water in those lakes to get the fish wet, but I’m told the fishing is awesome there, and fish are the ultimate experts on lakes.

The river has been changed by nature and man so much over the years, especially with the locks and dams, that I’m not sure if those lakes were there before 1935, when the Alma dam was completed.

I know a little more about the Finger Lakes in upstate New York, which are about 182 feet deeper than Schmokers Lake, and I know a lot more about New York’s Finger Lakes wines. Just ask me.

The Answer Man always points you in the right direction. Send questions to P.O. Box 6118, Rochester, MN 55903 or

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