1882 Greatest tonnage shipped on the canal in a year,
more than 1 million tons.
1900 Sanitary and Ship Canal opens.
1911 Texaco oil refinery opens in Lockport; Starved Rock
designated a state park.
1914-1918 I&M experiences a brief resurgence during World War I.
1922 Cal Sag Channel opens.
1933 Illinois Waterway opens
and I&M Canal officially
closes; Civilian Conser-vation
camps along the I&M to make repairs.
1935 Designation of Illinois and Michigan Canal State Park-way
from Joliet to LaSalle.
1941-1945 U.S. involvement in World War II.
1942-1945 Town of Seneca builds LST’s (landing ship tanks), and
the Joliet Arsenal provides TNT for American troops in
World War II.
1963 I&M Canal designated a National Historic Landmark.
1964 Stevenson Expressway opens in Chicago, built over
the first seven miles of the I&M Canal; dedication of
old canal warehouse in Utica for the LaSalle County
Palos & Sag Valley
National Historic Site
Billie Limacher Will-
Joliet Bicentennial Park
State Fish &
Lockport Lock and
Lock and Dam
Lock and Dam
St. James of the Sag
Church and Cemetery
Santa Fe Prairie
Deep Tunnel (TARP)
Isle a la Cache
I&M Canal Visitor Center/
Will Co. Historical Society Museum
Old Illinois State Penitentiary
M Canal State
Joliet Iron Works
I&M Canal State Trail
I&M Canal Bicycle
Gaylord Donnelley Canal Trail
Pine Bluff Road Lorenzo Road
Des Plaines River
Chicago S a
& Shi p Ca
I & M
I & M Canal
Aux Sable Creek
Calumet Sag Channel
I&M Canal Trail
Trail access point
Historic canal towns
0 4 Miles
4 / OutdoorIllinois June 2006 June 2006 OutdoorIllinois / 5
presents a chance to trace a significant
portion of Illinois’ history.
“The I&M Canal is one of Illinois’
most unique resources,” Hassen con-cluded.
“The canal transformed Chicago
into a transportation crossroads, setting
into motion a system that continues to
serve the people of Illinois.”
Today, no matter your mode of trav-el,
the I&M Canal will take you on a trail
of discovery of a land shaped by Native
Americans, French explorers and thou-sands
of immigrant laborers. You’ll pass
through communities once frequented
by mule tenders, frontier businessmen
and pioneers with a dream of carving
out a life on the prairie.
an economic means of shipping freight,
especially bulk items such as coal,
stone and timber. It was the 1900 open-ing
of the Chicago Sanitary and Ship
Canal that signaled the end of the canal,
a fate sealed when channelization of the
Illinois River was completed in 1933,
providing a wider and deeper shipping
lane to the Mississippi River.
Learning the history of canal commu-nities
that stood the test of time, and
those that faded into near oblivion with
canal commerce, has been made easy
by technological advances. A course of
travel that at one time took days can
now be made in a few hours.
Websites produced by DNR and the
Canal Corridor Association (see sidebar)
provide detailed descriptions and pho-tographs
of historical landmarks, natural
features and community services. And
after taking these virtual tours, who
wouldn’t itch for a chance to see the
canal first hand? Whether you dedicate a
day or several long weekends to explor-ing
the trail on bike or foot, or opt for all or
part of the 75-mile driving tour from
Lemont to LaSalle-Peru, the I&M Canal
“The contemplated canal between the Illinois river and Lake Michi-gan,
if we regard the mere location of it, is local; but if we regard
the benefits resulting from it to the whole nation, and as a connect-ing
link to the great chain of inland water communication between
New Orleans and some of the Atlantic states, it is clearly national.
The extent of inland navigation, which will be opened when this
canal is completed, will not be equaled in any country; and its bene-fits
will be very generally and extensively felt. The political effect of
all such works is also very apparent. They will bring and bind more
closely together, the various parts of the extended confederacy.”
Excerpt from 1831 speech of Illinois Governor Reynolds,
reprinted in the Chicago Democrat, November 26, 1833.
Join us for next month as our trek
down the I&M Canal continues from
Seneca to LaSalle-Peru.
I&M Canal from
Chicago to Morris
1969 I&M Canal office in Lockport closed and turned over
to the Will County Historical Society.
1974 I&M Canal transferred to the jurisdiction of the Depart-ment
of Conservation (now Department of Natural
1981 National Park Service
releases concept plan
for I&M Heritage Corri-dor.
1984 I&M National Heritage
Corridor named the
nation’s first Heritage Corridor.
1998 150th anniversary of the opening of the canal; dedica-tion
of the Joliet Iron Works Historic Site.
2000 Corridor driving tour signs installed.
2002 Joliet Area Historical Museum opens.
2004 I&M Canal Heritage Corridor Commission sunsets.
Timeline courtesy of the Canal Corridor Association.
Places to See and Things to Do
To learn more about the natural and historic resources located along the I&M Canal, and
associated recreational activities, visit www.dnr.state.il.us/lands/landmgt/PARKS/I&M/
Main.htm or www.canalcor.org. Both sites offer virtual tours of some of the canal structures.
Highlights of offerings are listed below.
Prairie habitats: Santa Fe Prairie Nature Preserve (Hodgkins), Lockport Prairie Nature
Canal locktenders house: Aux Sable, Channahon.
Canal locks: Aux Sable, Channahon.
Canal aqueduct: Aux Sable, Gebhard Woods State Park.
Replica canal boat: Canalport Plaza (Morris).
Diagonal bridge: Gebhard Woods State Park.
Native American sites: Briscoe Mounds (1200 A.D., Channahon).
Civilian Conservation Corp structures: Channahon, Gebhard Woods State Park, Aux Sable.
Cemeteries: Evergreen Cemetery (Chief Shabbona), Dresden Cemetery.
Rural structures: Dresden (Rutherford Inn, barn and warehouse).
Museums: Isle a la Cache Museum (Romeoville), Gaylord Building National Trust His-toric
Site (oldest remaining commercial building in the canal corridor, Lockport), Will County
Historic Society (housed in the original canal headquarters, Lockport), Grundy County His-torical
Interpretive centers/features: Canal Origins Park (Chicago), Gebhard Woods State Park.
Industrial ruins: Iron works (Joliet), brewery and furnace (Morris).
Recreational opportunities available on the I&M Canal State Trail and the state and
county facilities in proximity to the trail include picnicking, camping, hiking, bicycling, hunt-ing,
fishing, canoeing, kayaking, boating, snowmobiling (when 4 or more inches of snow is
present on the canal trail), wildlife observation, nature photography and more.
For detailed information on programs offered at state sites (Gebhard Woods State Park,
Heidecke State Fish and Wildlife Area, Goose Lake Prairie State Natural Area, Des Plaines
River Conservation Area) visit www.dnr.state.il.us/lands.
For information on properties managed by the Forest Preserve District of Will County
(McKinley Woods, Lockport Prairie) visit www.fpdwc.org.
I&M Canal Partners
The Department of Natural Resources
owns and manages the I&M Canal and the
various state parks within the Heritage Corri-dor.
Call (815) 942-0796 or visit www.dnr.
The Canal Corridor Association is a pri-vate,
not-for-profit organization dedicated to
community economic development, historic
preservation and conservation within the Her-itage
Corridor. Phone (815) 588-1100 or visit
The Heritage Corridor Convention & Visi-tors
Bureau is the certified Convention and
Visitors Bureau for the Heritage Corridor, and
all of Will, Grundy and LaSalle counties.
Phone (815) 727-2323 or visit
The Illinois and Michigan Canal National
Heritage Corridor Civic Center Authority is a
state agency committed to the historic, recre-ational
and economic development of several
communities in the Heritage Corridor. Call
(708) 352-4110. For information on the Santa
Fe Prairie Nature Preserve call (708) 598-
6139, or visit www.civiccenterauthority.org.
Forest Preserve District of Will County
facilities are open 8 a.m.-8 p.m. April through
October and 8 a.m.-5 p.m November through
March. Visit www.fpdwc.org for information on
Lockport Prairie, Isle a La Cache Museum and
Cook County Forest Preserve District.
Canoe access to the I&M Canal is available at
the Willow Springs area (enter at Willow Springs
Rd.). The FPD website also has a Chicago
Portage Canoe Trail Map identifying launch
sites and canoe route distances from Stonyford
to Lemont. Visit www.fpdcc.com or write Forest
Preserve District of Cook County, 536 North
Harlem Avenue, River Forest, IL 60305.
In Evergreen Cemetery at Morris, a large boulder
marks the grave of Potawatomi Chief Shabonna.
Sited adjacent to the I&M Canal at the Canalport
Plaza in Morris, a replica canal boat provides visi-tors
a sense of what travel was like down the
nearly 100-mile water trail.
Boat with a cargo of salt at Lock 8
Lock 8 at Aux Sable circa 1930.
(Map courtesy the National Park Service.)
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