While that 85 mile fact is repeated in many places online, no where have I been able to find any reference to what point this is. There are many places that get close and lie about 75-80 miles from a Great Lake. The street corner shown above is in downtown Eaton Rapids at Main and Hamlin. It is, as near as I can figure, as far as you can get from the nearest Great Lake.
Here’s the math and the maps.
Eaton Rapids to Lake Michigan
Eaton Rapids to Lake Erie
It’s 78 miles to Lake Erie near Monroe.
Eaton Rapids to Lake Huron
It’s even further to get to Lake Huron. The waters of Saginaw Bay at Bay City are 88 miles from downtown Eaton Rapids
Now don’t feel too badly for Eaton Rapids. The city certainly isn’t waterless. The Grand River flows through the town and an island in the river makes up the city’s downtown district.
Is it Really Eaton Rapids?
I tried other locations down the center of the Mitten like Lansing and Coldwater and even a little dot on the map called Ray near where Michigan, Indiana and Ohio meet and each of them was closer to one of the Great Lakes than Eaton Rapids was.
And there’s no place in the Upper Peninsula, even interior locations like Iron River, that’s more than 50 miles or so from either Lake Michigan or Superior.
So unless someone can prove it different, Eaton Rapids wins as the most Great Lake-deprived place in Michigan.