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Hennepin and I&M Canals

Construction of the I&M Canal was completed in 1848. It effectively connected the Great Lakes with the Illinois River and enabled the movement of goods by water to and from the Mississippi River. Chicago became an important center of commerce as a result. Peak volume was reached in 1882 and then gradually declined. Some dredging and repairs to locks and aqueducts was done in 1917 but by then the few wooden canal boats still in operation were old, narrow, leaky, and expensive to maintain. The canal was simply too small for the 20th century and eventually it became useful only as drainage.

Construction of the Hennepin Canal was completed in 1907. It was intended to shorten the distance of lake (Chicago) barge traffic to the Mississippi, especially for commerce to and from the north (St. Paul), and also to provide an alternative to transportation by rail. Increased rail capacity and competition among railways had already lowered railroad transportation costs by the time construction of the canal was completed. Commerce via the canal was mostly local with grain from the feeder region heading east and with gravel heading west. Nonetheless, it served well as a means to experiment with various methods of lock construction, some of which were used when construction of the Panama Canal was begun a few years later. It was closed to all traffic in 1951.

Nature is reclaiming the canals to one degree or another. Left alone, they will eventually fill with silt and become little more than odd ripples in the terrain.
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Jog in the Path
Jog in the Path
I&M Canal Lock Number 12
I&M Canal Lock Number 12
I&M Canal Towpath
I&M Canal Towpath
Giant Reeds
Giant Reeds
Hennepin Canal Lock in Near Infrared
Hennepin Canal Lock in Near Infrared
Hennepin Canal
Hennepin Canal
Canal Bridge
Canal Bridge
Towpath
Towpath
South of Wyanet
South of Wyanet
I&M Canal and Towpath
I&M Canal and Towpath
West of Ottawa
West of Ottawa
Channel
Channel
Lock, Downstream
Lock, Downstream
Towpath
Towpath
Hennepin Canal and Towpath
Hennepin Canal and Towpath
Infrastructure
Infrastructure
Railroad Trestle
Railroad Trestle
Sentinel
Sentinel
Canal Bridge
Canal Bridge
Concrete Poles
Concrete Poles
M J Hogan Grain Elevator
M J Hogan Grain Elevator
Downstream, Lock 15
Downstream, Lock 15
Lock 15 Gate
Lock 15 Gate
Spillway
Spillway
Tender's House and Chain
Tender's House and Chain
Canal Path
Canal Path
Canal Curve
Canal Curve
Hennepin Canal Path Tunnel
Hennepin Canal Path Tunnel
Farm Along the Canal
Farm Along the Canal
Ottawa Silica Company
Ottawa Silica Company
Lock 12 Downstream Detail
Lock 12 Downstream Detail
Towpath and Reeds
Towpath and Reeds
Sandstone Bluff
Sandstone Bluff
Railroad Trestle and Lock
Railroad Trestle and Lock
Trestle Underside
Trestle Underside
Lock Eight
Lock Eight
Recess for Lock Gate
Recess for Lock Gate
Fill Valve Gears
Fill Valve Gears
Lock 16 and 15 Pool
Lock 16 and 15 Pool
Gate Opening Mechanism
Gate Opening Mechanism
Gate Opening Mechanism II
Gate Opening Mechanism II
Canal North Edge
Canal North Edge
Weathered Piling
Weathered Piling
South of Princeton
South of Princeton
Iowa Interstate Railroad Trestle
Iowa Interstate Railroad Trestle
Hennepin Canal Dam
Hennepin Canal Dam
Towpath and Moon
Towpath and Moon
Twisted Towpath
Twisted Towpath
Wide Flat Straight and Empty
Wide Flat Straight and Empty
Attempted Crossings
Attempted Crossings
Concrete Trail Tunnel
Concrete Trail Tunnel
Lock 11, Bridge 6
Lock 11, Bridge 6
Early Morning Fog
Early Morning Fog
Lifting Fog
Lifting Fog
Bridge 6
Bridge 6
Road Bridges
Road Bridges
CSX Trestle
CSX Trestle
Sumac at the Canal
Sumac at the Canal
Above Lock 2
Above Lock 2
Below Lock 2
Below Lock 2
Pond's Point
Pond's Point
Pool at I&M Canal
Pool at I&M Canal
I&M Towpath and Wetlands
I&M Towpath and Wetlands
Canal Snags
Canal Snags
Tender's House
Tender's House
Lock 22
Lock 22
Lock 22 and Lift Bridge
Lock 22 and Lift Bridge
Gate Control Mechanism
Gate Control Mechanism
Upstream Gate
Upstream Gate
Feeder Canal Aqueduct
Feeder Canal Aqueduct
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