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I & M Canal

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(Editor's note: Although obviously not a "River", per se, the historical significance of this waterway demands its inclusion in this section.)

The 97-mile long Illinois and Michigan Canal was first opened in 1848 and provided the final link in the waterway system connecting Lake Michigan, the Illinois River and, eventually, the Mississippi River. Its economic impact was enormous as it allowed farmers to ship their grains and other goods to eastern markets and helped Chicago attain "world class" status.

The journey began on the South Branch of the Chicago River at Canalport (caretakers of "Lock #1) and Bridgeport-A. It traveled past Morris in a southwesterly direction before emptying into the Illinois at La Salle. It was originally 60 feet wide and six feet deep. The canal was closed in 1933 when the Illinois Waterway was opened.

Recreation areas spawned by the canal include Channahon State Park, William G. Stratton State Park and Gebhard Woods State Park.