Devils Lake or Spirit Lake means the same: Center of North Dakota Life!
The Dakota people referred to what is now Devils Lake as Mni Wakan, or Spirit Lake. Because of a high salt content, the first Anglo-Americans to the area probably equated the brackish water with bad spirits, hence the current name. Today, without treatment, the lake water is not good for drinking due to the high amounts of sulphate, lime and other natural minerals.
Devils Lake has no natural outlet, resulting in the water level rising and falling in cyclical fashion. The State Historical Society of North Dakota reports a height of nearly 1,440 feet and a surface area of 85,000 acres in 1883. The 1960’s saw a leave of as low as 1,410 feet, Today, the level is around 1,460 feet.
Regardless of the height, the lake has always maintained an excellent fishery for perch, walleye and other species, providing the backbone of the Devils Lake economy today.