Thursday, March 5, 2015

Lockport and the I & M Canal

Another historic canal is the Illinois and Michigan (or I & M) Canal, built in 1848 to connect the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River.  It ran 96 miles from Chicago to the Illinois River at LaSalle-Peru.  It helped make Chicago a transportation hub before the railroads.  Much of the canal has been filled in, but areas between Lockport and LaSalle have been saved as part of the National Heritage Corridor.  We took a day to explore this historic area.
We started in Lockport.  This was one of the 18 locks along the canal.

One of many large warehouses which sprung up along the canal to hold the goods being transported down the river.

The canal was only used for about 10 years.  The railroads turned out to be cheaper and easier to maintain.  But the railroads placed their tracks alongside the canal in many places.  Warehouses and business already existed, making for instant clients for the railroads.

Abraham Lincoln used the canal for transportation during his life in Illinois.

The Gaylord Building today.  It now houses a restaurant and gift shop.

As it looked in the mid 1800s.

All along the historic canal were these signs with tidbits of history.  Notice this man, whose name is Edward Retz, and was a mule driver along the canal, later came to be known as Wild Bill Hickok.

Interesting sculpture.

Marseilles had murals throughout the town.

Washington Square in Ottowa, IL, was the site of the first Lincoln-Douglas debate in 1858.

Looking across the Illinois River to Starved Rock State Park.

Another lock along the now historic canal.  During the summers they have passenger boats, pulled by mules just like they were during its operation in the mid 1800s.  We missed the last boat ride of the day.  Except for the locks, the canal was 60 feet wide and 6 foot deep.

We came back on the opposite side of the Illinois River, stopping at Starved Rock State Park.

They had lots of interesting carvings from dead trees.

I liked this bench.

Notice the bird on his shoulder and animal between his legs.

The Polka Dot Drive In along Route 66.

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