Thursday, March 22, 2012

THIMBY Thursday - The History In My Backyard - I & M Canal

The heyday of the I & M Canal is long over, but its rich history influenced northern Illinois from the 1800s through the mid-1900s.

The name is an acronym for the "Illinois and Michigan Canal", linking Lake Michigan to the Illinois River, and the Illinois on to the mighty Mississippi River.  It may not be as famous a waterway as the St. Lawrence Seaway or the Erie Canal, but it was important for the time.  I'll share some history in the upcoming weeks.

The major modern feature of the canal is the towpath. The towpath is literal - horses towed vessels down the canal using the trail. The canal stretches over 60 miles and the towpath has been preserved for hiking, biking, and winter snowmobiling.  The local high schools use the path for cross country and track practice.  The grade schools use it for nature field trips.  My family and I use it for walking, biking, and discovering little creatures.  This is one piece of history that I use often and truly appreciate!

configured canal path along Cemetery Road, near Morris, Grundy County, Illinois

stretch of towpath with a hint of canal waters in the distance

 my son trying to catch dinner

locktender's house along Cemetery Road near Morris

Here is the link to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources website and to the I & M Canal page with maps and more information.

What can you share from your backyard?
© 2012 Sally Knudsen