Thursday, March 29, 2012

THIMBY Thursday - The History In My Backyard - Canal Boats

Last week, I posted about how the modern-day I & M canal affects my life.  It is a great Illinois resource.  The canal also had a huge effect on my past: from the Irish ancestors who worked on the canal.

This is one of my favorite census records, showing my ancestor Thomas Riley working as a canal boat captain and wife Mary Ann working as the boat's cook: 1870 US census, Lockport Village, Will, Illinois

This photo, from the Canal Corridor website, shows a typical early canal boat being towed along the towpath:
I'm sure it was hard work, but the picture looks very idyllic.  Here is another website with many old photos and postcards showing life working on a canal boat.  For you archaeology buffs, here is a website showing excavation of a canal boat.

I rather like the idea that Thomas Riley left Ireland and worked on the I & M Canal, and now, 150 years and several states later, I use the canal amenities on a weekly basis.

© 2012 Sally Knudsen