The Illinois and Michigan Canal, also known as the I & M Canal, was a significant transportation route that played a vital role in the development of the Midwest in the United States. The canal was constructed in the mid-19th century and served as a link between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River, making it a crucial waterway for trade and transportation.
Construction of the I & M Canal began in 1836 and was completed in 1848. The canal ran for 96 miles, connecting the Chicago River to the Illinois River. The construction of the canal was a massive engineering feat at the time, involving the excavation of thousands of cubic yards of soil and the building of numerous locks, dams, and aqueducts. The canal was also a vital source of employment for many workers who helped build it.
The I & M Canal was primarily used for the transportation of goods and people. Boats and barges would navigate through the canal, carrying everything from grain and lumber to coal and other raw materials. The canal was also used for passenger transportation, with steamboats and other vessels ferrying people between cities and towns along the canal.
The I & M Canal played a significant role in the growth and development of the Midwest. It provided a crucial transportation link between the eastern and western parts of the country, making it easier and cheaper to move goods and people. The canal also helped spur economic growth, as businesses could now transport their goods more easily and cheaply, allowing them to reach new markets and customers.
Today, the I & M Canal is a popular tourist attraction, with many people visiting to learn about the canal’s history and significance. Visitors can explore the canal’s towpath, which was used by mules and horses to pull boats along the canal. They can also visit historic lock houses and other structures, such as the Lockport Powerhouse, which was used to generate electricity for the city of Lockport. Also, they can recreate via kayaking or fishing on the canal and Kayak Starved Rock Campground offers these opportunities.
Overall, the Illinois and Michigan Canal was a significant transportation route that played a crucial role in the development of the Midwest. Its construction was a massive engineering feat that helped spur economic growth and connect people and places. Today, the canal is a reminder of the region’s history and significance, and it continues to attract visitors from all over the world.