Saturday, August 7, 2010

Friday Aug 6th (Colona Illinois)

Our plan for today was to get our morning walk done then after lunch ride the bikes to the Hennepin Canal Bike path and follow it for awhile. Today we lengthened our walk to three miles. The outside loop of the campground is exactly a mile. So we did three loops. The temperature and humidity has been very nice the last two mornings but that is about to end. The forecast is for higher temps the next few days. We picked a good day to go to the canal.

The Hennepin canal started out as the Illinois and Mississippi canal. It became the second I&M canal in the state of Illinois, but unfortunately, the era of canals had really passed even before it was built.

When the original I&M (Illinois and Michigan) Canal opened, commerce was able to travel past Chicago into the nation's interior, but the I&M only went to LaSalle/Peru Illinois, and the Illinois River was not always navigable beyond. In 1894 work began on the Illinois and Mississippi Canal, and it opened in 1907. But by then the I&M's heyday had already passed. Chicago's Ship and Sanitary Canal opened in 1900, and with its 25 foot depth it could handle much bigger barges than the I&M ever could. Also, Chicago's Sanitary District built locks on the Illinois at Henry and Coopers Creek to help make the Illinois River navigable more of the time. Both I&M Canals (Illinois and Michigan and Illinois and Mississippi) saw a brief resurgence in the early 1920's when Morton Salt decided to use the old canals and a few older barges to transport its materials. Morton argued that we didn't need a deepwater channel to the interior and that the smaller barges were fine. In the end, the deepwater channel ended in Lockport, the Army Corps of Engineers took over the Illinois Waterway project when the state ran out of money, and there is now a 9 foot channel in the Illinois River from Lockport to the Mississippi. Not very deep, but deep enough to make the Illinois and Mississippi Canal a footnote.

The Illinois and Mississippi Canal's locks closed to traffic in the 1950's forever.

In the late 1960's, it was decided to open the canal to recreation, and for whatever reason, it was also decided to rename the canal in honor of Father Hennepin.

A few pictures along the bike trail

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One of the locks that has a feeder river behind it. (Green River)

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The bike path bridge across the Green River

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One of the many turtles that we saw sunning on logs.

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Lock with a lift bridge and no gates

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And here is what a lock with the gates in place looks like.

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It was a very nice bike ride that took us along the canal and through some nice farmland. I could not resist a photo of this lonely old windmill.

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When we got back we were pretty exhausted. We had our 3 mile walk, then the bike ride was about 12 miles. We made it back to the campground and re-cooped. We made dinner and relaxed for the rest of the day. Tomorrow, nothing is planned so we will wing it.

1 comment:

vjoeu said...

The canals are interesting. Thanks for sharing pics with us. When your travels get y'all to New York state, trvel to the Erie Canal. Some aare open for boat travel. would be neat to rent a small boat and travel the canal for a ways.