Chicago Genealogical Society

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CGS Genealogical Bus Tour: Chicago’s Greatest Waterway - The I & M Canal

  • 24 Aug 2019
  • 9:30 AM - 4:00 PM
  • Ogilvie Transportation Center, Madison St between Canal & Clinton Streets
  • 0


  • Box lunch included with registration
  • Box lunch with registration

Registration is closed

Using a luxury bus, the Chicago Genealogical Society will be hosting a genealogically oriented tour of the Illinois and Michigan Canal on Saturday, August 24, 2019 which will included such stops as the Chicago Portage National Historic Site, the St. James of the Sag Cemetery, Lockport, Locks at Channahon State Park, the Seneca Grain Elevator and the Fox River Aqueduct in Ottawa among many other places in a beautiful summer setting. Chicago Historian and CGS board member, Craig Pfannkuche, will be our guide to learn about this fascinating time in Chicago’s history and how it changed our Chicago ancestor’s lives.  

In the early 1830s Chicago was just another lake shore village vying with others to be the key portal to the American west.  Milwaukee, Kenosha, and Waukegan all laid claim to that honor along with St. Louis, Missouri. St. Louis residents were certain that their community would be the lead city since their location on the Mississippi River would capture both up river traffic as well as large shipments of grain, lumber, and lead from the north.

Chicago entrepreneurs wanted that traffic. They remembered that as long ago as the 1670s early explorers believed that a canal could be cut through a muddy marsh which would allow easy all waterway movement between Lake Michigan and the Illinois River valley. As canal building became popular with the 1825 opening of the Erie Canal, these entrepreneurs promoted the construction of a similar canal which would siphon the Mississippi River away from St. Louis trade to Chicago.

Thousands of Irish canal diggers saw opportunity in Chicago with canal construction beginning in 1836. The canal, called the Illinois and Michigan Canal, utilizing a number of locks was completed to the Illinois River at La Salle in 1848.

A number of communities along the canal such as Lockport, Joliet, Seneca, and Ottawa experienced greatly increased prosperity because of the canal. Because of the masses of grain now pouring into Chicago to be held for shipping, special storage buildings called elevators were devised. Along with such storage, a method of selling the grain was also devised. Today, the world-famous Chicago Board of Trade continues that tradition.

Our bus will depart from (and return to) the northwest corner of the Ogilvie Transportation Center (where food & bathrooms are easily available, located on Madison St between Canal & Clinton Streets) at 9:30am. We will return by 4:00pm.  

Space is limited - first come, first reserved. No refunds after 8/14/19. The online payment service fee will be deducted from refunds.  

Jimmy John’s Box Lunch includes Sandwich, Chips, Pickle and Cookie. Sandwich Choices are:

  • Italian: salami, capicola, provolone cheese, onion, lettuce, tomatoes, oil & vinegar, oregano, basil on French bread.
  • Ham & Provolone: with lettuce, tomatoes, mayo on French bread.
  • Turkey & Bacon: with lettuce, tomatoes, mayo on French bread.
  • Tuna Salad: with cucumbers, lettuce, tomatoes on 9-grain wheat bread.
  • Veggie: has sliced provolone cheese, avocado, cucumbers, lettuce, tomatoes, mayo on 9-grain wheat bread.

*Bottled water and soda will be provided for all participants for lunch.

Chicago Genealogical Society is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.  Address: PO Box 1160, Chicago, IL  60690-1160

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