The Illinois and Michigan Canal connected the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico. In Illinois, it ran 96 miles (154 km) from the Chicago River in Bridgeport, Chicago to the Illinois River at LaSalle-Peru. The canal crossed the Chicago Portage, and helped establish Chicago as the transportation hub of the United States, before the railroad era. It was opened in 1848. Its function was largely replaced by the wider and shorter Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal in 1900, and it ceased transportation operations with the completion of the Illinois Waterway in 1933.
Illinois and Michigan Canal Locks and Towpath, a collection of eight engineering structures and segments of the canal between Lockport and LaSalle-Peru, was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1964.
Portions of the canal have been filled in. Much of the former canal, near the Heritage Corridor transit line, has been preserved as part of the Illinois and Michigan Canal National Heritage Corridor.
Illinois and Michigan Canal Locks and Towpath
a scene at Seneca, Illinois
|Nearest city||Joliet, Illinois|
|Area||1,130 acres (4.6 km2)|
|NRHP reference #||66000332|
|Added to NRHP||October 15, 1966|
|Designated NHL||January 29, 1964|
Canals, in the 1800s, were important modes of transportation. The Illinois and Michigan Canal connected the Mississippi Basin to the Great Lakes Basin. The canal influenced Illinois's north border. The Erie Canal and the Illinois and Michigan Canal cemented cultural and trade ties to the Northeast rather than the South. Before the canal, farming in the region was limited to subsistence farming. The canal made agriculture in northern Illinois profitable, opening up connections to eastern markets. With the expansion of agriculture, the canal created the city of Chicago.
The first known Europeans to travel the area, Father Marquette and Louis Joliet went through the Chicago Portage on their return trip. Joliet remarked that with a canal they could remove the need to portage and the French could create an empire spanning the continent.
With several slave states recently admitted to the Union, Nathaniel Pope and Ninian Edwards saw the opportunity to make Illinois a state. They proposed moving the border northward from the southern tip of Lake Michigan to allow the canal to be within a single state. They believed that the canal would firmly align Illinois with the free states and so Congress granted them statehood even though Illinois did not meet the population requirements.
Construction on the canal began in 1836, although it was stopped for several years due to an Illinois state financial crisis related to the Panic of 1837. The Canal Commission had a grant of 284,000 acres (115,000 ha) of federal land which it sold at $1.25 per acre (309 $/km²) to finance the construction. Still, money had to be borrowed from eastern U.S. and British investors to finish the canal.
Most of the canal work was done by Irish immigrants who previously worked on the Erie Canal. The work was considered dangerous and many workers died, although no official records exist to indicate how many. The Irish immigrants who toiled to build the canal were often derided as a sub-class and were treated very poorly by other citizens of the city.
The canal was finished in 1848 at a total cost of $6,170,226. Chicago Mayor James Hutchinson Woodworth presided over the opening ceremony. Pumps were used to draw water to fill the canal near Chicago, which was soon supplemented by water from the Calumet Feeder Canal. The feeder was supplied by water from the Calumet River and originated in Blue Island, Il. The DuPage River provided water farther south. In 1871 the canal was deepened to speed up the current and to improve sewage disposal.
The canal was eventually 60 feet (18 m) wide and 6 feet (1.8 m) deep, with towpaths constructed along each edge to permit mules to be harnessed to tow barges along the canal. Towns were planned out along the path of the canal spaced at intervals corresponding to the length that the mules could haul the barges. It had seventeen locks and four aqueducts to cover the 140-foot (43 m) height difference between Lake Michigan and the Illinois River. From 1848 to 1852 the canal was a popular passenger route, but passenger service ended in 1853 with the opening of the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad that ran parallel to the canal. The canal had its peak shipping year in 1882 and remained in use until 1933.
Experiencing a remarkable recovery from the devastating Great Chicago Fire of 1871, Chicago rebuilt rapidly along the shores of the Chicago River. The river was especially important to the development of the city since all wastes from houses, farms, the stockyards, and other industries could be dumped into the river and carried out into Lake Michigan.
The lake, however, was also the source of drinking water. During a tremendous storm in 1885, the rainfall washed refuse from the river, especially from the highly polluted Bubbly Creek, far out into the lake (the city water intakes are located 2 miles (3.2 km) offshore). Although no epidemics occurred, the Chicago Sanitary District (now The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District) was created by the Illinois legislature in 1889 in response to this close call.
This new agency devised a plan to construct channels and canals to reverse the flow of the rivers away from Lake Michigan and divert the contaminated water downstream where it could be diluted as it flowed into the Des Plaines River and eventually the Mississippi.
In 1892, the direction of part of the Chicago River was reversed by the Army Corps of Engineers with the result that the river and much of Chicago's sewage flowed into the canal instead of into Lake Michigan. The complete reversal of the river's flow was accomplished when the Sanitary and Ship Canal was opened in 1900.
It was replaced in 1933 by the Illinois Waterway, which remains in use.
The actual origin site of the Illinois and Michigan Canal has been converted into a nature park that integrates history, ecology and art to communicate the Canal's importance in the development of Chicago. In 2003 the Chicago Park District - in cooperation with the I & M Canal Association, hired Conservation Design Forum to develop plans to convert the brownfield site into a landscape that provided for passive recreational uses in a landscape setting with native plant species. Interpretive panels built into a wall along a bike trail were designed by local high school art students. also consulted on landscape stabilization techniques to repair a significantly degraded shoreline (water levels can fluctuate as much as 5 feet).
Today much of the canal is a long, thin linear park with canoeing and a 62.5-mile (100.6 km) hiking and biking trail (constructed on the alignment of the mule tow paths). It also includes museums and historical canal buildings. It was designated the first National Heritage Corridor by US Congress in 1984.
Many towns in Northern Illinois owe their existence directly to the Illinois and Michigan Canal. Chicago, Lockport, Morris, Ottawa, and LaSalle were platted by the Canal Commissioners to raise funds for the canal's construction. From east to west the towns along the path of the canal include:
Archer Avenue, sometimes known as Archer Road outside the Chicago, Illinois city limits, and also known as State Street only in Lockport, Illinois and Fairmont, Illinois city limits, is a street running northeast-to-southwest between Chicago's Chinatown and Lockport. Archer follows the original trail crossing the Chicago Portage between the Chicago River and the Des Plaines River, and parallels the path of the Illinois and Michigan Canal and the Alton Railroad. As a main traffic artery, it has largely been replaced by the modern Stevenson Expressway.
The street was named after the first commissioner of the Illinois and Michigan Canal, William Beatty Archer. One early map of Chicago (ca. 1830) listed what may have been the future Archer Road as "The Road to Widow Brown's".
Archer Avenue was made famous by Finley Peter Dunne in his books and sketches about the fictional saloonkeeper Mr. Dooley, whose tavern was on "Archey Road". The fictional Dooley "lived" in the real-life Bridgeport, Chicago neighborhood.
Archer Avenue is also famous as the purported haunting place of Resurrection Mary, a vanishing hitchhiker who is said to travel between the Willowbrook Ballroom and Resurrection Cemetery.The east end of Archer begins in Chicago's Chinatown, then passes through the Bridgeport, McKinley Park and Brighton Park neighborhoods on its way to Archer Heights and Garfield Ridge. Outside Chicago, Archer Avenue/Road passes through the villages of Summit, Justice, Willow Springs, and the southern edge of Lemont before terminating on the north side of Lockport. Between Summit and Lockport, Archer Avenue is designated as a part of Illinois Route 171. Historically, this section of Archer was a part of Illinois Route 4, the original 1924 highway connecting St. Louis and Chicago. In 1926, Route 4 was rerouted to the north side of the Des Plaines River on an alignment that subsequently became U.S. Route 66, and its former route on Archer was redesignated as Illinois Route 4A. By 1939, Route 4A had been extended along the entire length of Archer Avenue into Downtown Chicago. In 1967, Route 4A was truncated back to Summit and merged into Illinois Route 171.The former site of Argonne National Laboratory and its predecessor, the University of Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory in the forest preserve near Red Gate Woods, can be entered from an access road on Archer Avenue. This was once a secret Manhattan Project site, and is now known as the Site A/Plot M Disposal Site. Chicago Pile-1 (CP-1), the world's first nuclear reactor, was moved from Stagg Field to this site in 1943 and renamed Chicago Pile-2 (CP-2). The remains of CP-1, CP-2, and Chicago Pile-3 (CP-3) remain buried at this site.
Playland Amusement Park, now defunct, opened in mid-summer of 1950 and was located in Willow Springs, Illinois, which at that time was unincorporated. The area is now in Justice, Illinois. The amusement park was located at 9300 West 79th Street in Willow Springs. Southwest of Lemont, Archer passes Cog Hill Golf & Country Club, site of numerous Professional Golfers Association tournaments.Chicago Portage
The Chicago Portage is a water gap, and in the past a sometime wind-gap portage, connecting the watersheds (BrE: drainage basins) and the navigable waterways of the Mississippi River and the Great Lakes. It cuts through the Valparaiso and Tinley Moraines, crossing the Saint Lawrence River Divide that separates the Great Lakes and Gulf of St. Lawrence watersheds from the Gulf of Mexico watershed, making it one of the most strategic points in the interior of the North American continent. The saddle point of the gap is within the city of Chicago, and the Chicago Portage is a reason Chicago exists and has developed to become the important city that it is, ranking 7th in the world in the 2014 Global Cities Index. The official flag of the city of Chicago includes four red stars symbolizing city history, separating two blue stripes symbolizing the waters that meet at the city.Chicago River
The Chicago River is a system of rivers and canals with a combined length of 156 miles (251 km) that runs through the city of Chicago, including its center (the Chicago Loop). Though not especially long, the river is notable because it is one of the reasons for Chicago's geographic importance: the related Chicago Portage is a link between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River Basin, and ultimately the Gulf of Mexico.
The River is also noteworthy for its natural and human-engineered history. In 1887, the Illinois General Assembly decided to reverse the flow of the Chicago River through civil engineering by taking water from Lake Michigan and discharging it into the Mississippi River watershed, partly in response to concerns created by an extreme weather event in 1885 that threatened the city's water supply. In 1889, the Illinois General Assembly created the Chicago Sanitary District (now The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District) to replace the Illinois and Michigan Canal with the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, a much larger waterway, because the former had become inadequate to serve the city's increasing sewage and commercial navigation needs. Completed by 1900, the project reversed the flow of the Main Stem and South Branch of the Chicago River by using a series of canal locks and increasing the flow from Lake Michigan into the river, causing the river to empty into the new Canal instead. In 1999, the system was named a 'Civil Engineering Monument of the Millennium' by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).The river is represented on the Municipal Flag of Chicago by two horizontal blue stripes. Its three branches serve as the inspiration for the Municipal Device, a three-branched, Y-shaped symbol that is found on many buildings and other structures throughout Chicago.Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal
The Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, historically known as the Chicago Drainage Canal, is a 28-mile-long (45 km) canal system that connects the Chicago River to the Des Plaines River. It reverses the direction of the Main Stem and the South Branch of the Chicago River, which now flows out of Lake Michigan rather than into it. The related Calumet-Saganashkee Channel does the same for the Calumet River a short distance to the south, joining the Chicago canal about halfway along its route to the Des Plaines. The two provide the only navigation for ships between the Great Lakes Waterway and the Mississippi River system.
The canal was primarily built as a sewage treatment scheme. Prior to its opening in 1900, sewage from the city of Chicago was dumped into the Chicago River and flowed into Lake Michigan. The city's drinking water supply was located offshore, and there were fears that the sewage could reach the intake and cause serious disease outbreaks. Since the sewer systems were already flowing into the river, the decision was made to dam the river and reverse its flow, thereby sending all the sewage inland where it could be treated before emptying it into the Des Plaines.
A secondary goal was to replace the shallow and narrow Illinois and Michigan Canal (I&M), which had originally connected Lake Michigan with the Mississippi starting in 1848. As part of the construction of the new canal, the entire route was built to allow much larger ships to navigate it. It is 202 feet (62 m) wide and 24 feet (7.3 m) deep, over three times the size of the I&M. The I&M became a secondary route with the new canal's opening and was shut down entirely with the creation of the Illinois Waterway network in 1933.
The building of the Chicago canal served as intensive and practical training for engineers who later built the Panama Canal. The canal is operated by the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago. In 1999, the system was named a Civil Engineering Monument of the Millennium by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). The Canal was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on December 20, 2011.David Leavitt (banker)
David Leavitt (August 29, 1791 – December 30, 1879) was an early New York City banker and financier. As president of the American Exchange Bank of New York during the Financial Panic of 1837 he represented bondholders of the nascent Illinois and Michigan Canal, allowing completion of the historic canal linking the Midwest with the East Coast. For his role in helping prevent the collapse of the canal scheme, Chicago authorities named Leavitt Street after the financier. Leavitt was also an early art collector, and many of the artist Emanuel Leutze's paintings, including that of Washington at Valley Forge, were initially in Leavitt's collection housed at his Great Barrington, Massachusetts estate.Grand Illinois Trail
The Grand Illinois Trail (occasionally abbreviated GIT) is a multipurpose recreational trail in the northern part of the U.S. state of Illinois. At over 575 miles (925 km) in length, it is the longest trail in Illinois. Parts of it are in the coast-to-coast American Discovery Trail.Confirmed as a highest priority for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources over the course of several statewide Conservation Congresses, the Grand Illinois Trail is within easy reach to over eight million people. Those who complete a trail journal and confirm completion with the IDNR are granted the title of Trailblazer.The Grand Illinois Trail began life in 1992 when La Salle County residents Todd Volker, Bill Brown and Blouke Carus began exploring ways to connect the existing Hennepin and Illinois & Michigan Canal state trails. By completing a short 16-mile gap, a major span across the state---from Lake Michigan to the Mississippi River---could be completed. This led to IDNR involvement and its decision to extend the trail across a much broader region of Illinois.
As a trail network, the Grand Illinois Trail offers much for riders. Since it routes through the prairie state, it contains flat and easy-to-ride portions through green farmlands and pastoral vistas. But surprisingly, the GIT gives touring cyclists special glimpses into much of the essence of Illinois: the hilly and picturesque geography of Jo Daviess County, Chicago streetscapes and Lake Michigan, the Mighty Mississippi Itself, the Upper Illinois River Valley, Small Town America and medium-sized cities and suburbs.Trail surfaces vary from asphalt trails to low-volume streets to limestone screened trails. Each trail section has its own special history and history of development: particularly noteworthy is the famous Prairie Path through the western suburbs of Chicago, which was the first long rail-trail development in America, along with the great Chicago Lakefront trail. The best long-section of the GIT is the southern section along the state canal trails, between Joliet and the Quad Cities. This southern section includes the Old Plank Road Trail, the Illinois and Michigan Canal Trail, the projected Kaskaskia Alliance Trail and the Hennepin Canal, and is the northern routing of the cross-country American Discovery Trail.
Credit for the full development of the Grand Illinois Trail goes to planners Richard Westfall and George Bellovics, trail advocacy organizations such as the League of Illinois Bicyclists and the Openlands Project, and by numerous citizens working to improve their communities.Heritage Corridor
The Heritage Corridor (HC) is a Metra commuter rail line in Chicago, Illinois, and its southwestern suburbs, terminating in Joliet. While Metra does not refer to its lines by colors, the Heritage Corridor appears on Metra timetables as "Alton Maroon," after the Alton Railroad, which ran trains on this route. The name Heritage Corridor refers to the Illinois and Michigan Canal Heritage Corridor. Established in 1984, it runs parallel to the line.Unlike other Metra lines, the Heritage Corridor runs during weekday rush hours only in the peak direction–to Chicago in the morning and Joilet in the afternoon. The Heritage Corridor Line takes less than 1 hour to reach Joliet, significantly faster than the Rock Island District Line which also serves Joliet.
A fourth outbound train was added on March 14, 2016. Now seven trains run on the Heritage Corridor, three of them inbound, four outbound. All trains run through to (and start at) Joliet.Hiram Norton
Hiram Norton (c. 1799–1875) was a merchant and political figure in Upper Canada.
He was born in Vermont around 1799 and settled in Prescott. In 1833, he became a justice of the peace in the Johnstown District. He represented Grenville in the Legislative Assembly of Upper Canada from 1831 to 1838 as a Reformer. During the 1830s, he operated a stage coach between Montreal and Toronto with Barnabas Dickinson, the father of Moss Kent Dickinson. At the time of the Upper Canada Rebellion, he left Upper Canada and settled in Lockport, Illinois. Norton became an important industrialist, operating a water-powered flour mill drawing power from the Illinois and Michigan Canal. He died in Lockport in 1875.Illinois River
The Illinois River (Miami-Illinois language: Inoka Siipiiwi) is a principal tributary of the Mississippi River, approximately 273 miles (439 km) long, in the U.S. state of Illinois. The river drains a large section of central Illinois, with a drainage basin of 28,756.6 square miles (74,479 km2). The drainage basin extends into Wisconsin, Indiana, and a very small area of southwestern Michigan. This river was important among Native Americans and early French traders as the principal water route connecting the Great Lakes with the Mississippi. The French colonial settlements along the rivers formed the heart of the area known as the Illinois Country. After the construction of the Illinois and Michigan Canal and the Hennepin Canal in the 19th century, the role of the river as link between Lake Michigan and the Mississippi was extended into the era of modern industrial shipping. It now forms the basis for the Illinois Waterway.LaSalle, Illinois
LaSalle is a city in LaSalle County, Illinois, United States, located at the intersection of Interstates 39 and 80. It is part of the Ottawa-Peru, IL Micropolitan Statistical Area. Originally platted in 1837 over one square mile (2.6 square kilometers), the city's boundaries have grown to 12 sq mi (31 km2). City boundaries extend from the Illinois River and Illinois and Michigan Canal to a mile north of Interstate 80 and from the city of Peru on the west to the village of North Utica on the east. Starved Rock State Park is located approximately 5 mi (8 km) to the east. The population was 9,609 at the 2010 census, and was estimated to be 9,328 by July 2014. LaSalle and its twin city, Peru, make up the core of the Illinois Valley. Due to their combined dominance of the zinc processing industry in the early 1900s, they were collectively nicknamed "Zinc City."Lemont station
Lemont is a station on Metra's Heritage Corridor in Lemont, Illinois. The station is 25.3 miles (40.7 km) away from Union Station, the northern terminus of the line. In Metra's zone-based fare system, Lemont is in zone E.
Lemont Station was originally built by the Chicago and Alton Railroad in 1859 and designed in a manner similar to that of Lockport station. The tracks run parallel to the Illinois and Michigan Canal, and shares the right-of-way with Amtrak's Lincoln Service and Texas Eagle trains, however, no Amtrak trains stop here.Lockport station (Illinois)
Lockport is a station on Metra's Heritage Corridor in Lockport, Illinois. The station is 32.9 miles (52.9 km) away from Union Station, the northern terminus of the line. In Metra's zone-based fare system, Lockport is in zone G. The station is used only during rush hours.
Lockport Station was originally built in 1863 by the Chicago and Alton Railroad. The tracks run parallel to the Illinois and Michigan Canal, and shares the right-of-way with Amtrak's Lincoln Service and Texas Eagle trains, however, no Amtrak trains stop here.
Three blocks east of the station is the meeting place of the Blackhawk Chapter of the National Railroad Historical Society at the Gladys Fox Museum.Robert Milne House
The Robert Milne House is a historic residence in Lockport, Illinois, United States. It was home to Robert Milne, Canal Commissioner of the Illinois and Michigan Canal.Shabbona Trail
The Chief Shabbona Trail is a hiking, bicycling and canoeing trail, located between Joliet and Morris, Illinois. The Shabbona Trail is a part of the 61-mile (98 km) long National Park Service Illinois and Michigan Canal National Heritage Corridor.
Hiking, bicycling and canoeing are free. The trail is open year-round.St. James Catholic Church and Cemetery (Lemont, Illinois)
St. James Catholic Church and Cemetery, also known as St. James at Sag Bridge Church is a historic church and cemetery in the Sag Bridge area of the village of Lemont, Illinois. It is situated on a high bluff at the western tip of the glacier-carved Mount Forest Island, overlooking the Calumet Sag Channel and the community of Sag Bridge.The Volunteer (canal boat)
The Volunteer is a 76-foot replica of a 19th-century canal boat which is owned and operated by the Canal Corridor Association. The Volunteer operates on a restored section of the Illinois and Michigan Canal at LaSalle, Illinois, US.Will County Historical Society Headquarters
The Will County Historical Society Headquarters is a historic building in Lockport, Illinois, United States, originally known as the Illinois and Michigan Canal Office Building. It served as the headquarters of the Canal Commission of the Illinois and Michigan Canal from 1836 until 1871, when control of the canal was transferred to the state.William G. Stratton State Park
William G. Stratton State Park is an Illinois state park in Grundy County, Illinois, United States. It is named after Illinois Governor William Stratton, and was developed in 1959. It features a jet-ski landing area, and is bounded by the Illinois and Michigan Canal State Trail.Willow Springs station (Illinois)
Willow Springs is a station on Metra's Heritage Corridor in Willow Springs, Illinois. The station is 17.5 miles (28.2 km) away from Union Station, the northern terminus of the line. In Metra's zone-based fare system, Willow Springs is in zone D.
The tracks run parallel to both the Illinois and Michigan Canal and the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal. They also run along a former Chicago and Alton Railroad line, and shares the right-of-way with Amtrak's Lincoln Service and Texas Eagle trains, however, no Amtrak trains stop here.
Though Metra gives the address to the station as being at 87th Street and Archer Avenue, the actual location is along Willow Boulevard beneath the Gilbert Avenue Bridge. The current station is on the east side below this bridge. Parking is available on the west side of the bridge.
Chicago Landmark memorials and monuments
|National Historic Landmark,|
National Register of Historic Places,
|National Historic Landmark,|
National Register of Historic Places
|National Register of Historic Places,|
|Lists by state|
|Lists by insular areas|
|Lists by associated state|