Photo Album:Hennepin Canal
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Hennepin Canal

2007 is the Centennial Year for the Canal. Many of the area towns will be participating in this Centennial Celebration scheduled on September 8, 2007. Check with local Chamber of Commerce for list of activities. Also visit the "Friends of the Hennepin" website.

Friends of the Hennepin Canal
410 W. Railroad
Sheffield, IL  61361

Hennepin Canal Parkway
(815) 454-2328
Gary Wagle (309) 786-6681
Pat Stier (815) 454-2502

 Article in the Tampico Tornado Newspaper, December 22, 1894

". . .When we get the canal feeder Tampico will be by far the best town on this line of the "Q." A gentleman in speaking of the result the canal would have on this place says: "A new town will spring up on the banks of the "raging canal," that is, our business houses will all move up to the canal and then we will have an East and West Tampico, the business will be done at East Tampico and the present or West Tampico will be for residences, schools, churches, and such."



Friday, October 4, 1907 1;1

CANAL TO BENEFIT US – What good the canal will be to Tampico and this vicinity is a question that has been much discussed here and the unanimous opinion has always been that it was little more than a useless ditch to cause farmers trouble and help spoil arable lands. That this opinion is entirely wrong and great benefits may be expected comes from no less an authority on shipping and freight rates than Martin B. MADDEN the big Chicago manufacturer.


Canal boats give shippers better service than the railroads.


The authority for this assertion is congressman Martin B. MADDEN, president of the Wester Stone company, ****** addressed a meeting of the traffc ******eau of the Illinois Manufacturers’ *****ciation at the Great Norther *****  in Chicago recently. Not only  ************ (last few sentences unreadable).


Friday, October 4, 1907 1;3


Government Will Open Big Ditch On That Day With Appropriate Ceremonies at Sterling


October 24, Thursday, has been officially set as the date for the opening of the canal at Sterling.


Governor DENEEN will be present on that date and make the address Major RICHIE U. S. A., Engineer corps has also written stating that he will be at Sterling on that date. He will come there direct from Moline where the waterways convention will be held October 22 and 23 and will bring several prominent men with him all of whom are interested in deep waterways.


It is intended to have Tom HENDERSON, “The Father of the Hennepin canal,” there, and in all probability he will be tendered the honor of pressing the button which will let the water into the big canal.


Captain L. L. WHEELER and his force are hard at work getting everything in readiness for the opening. The banks of the canal are being thoroughly overlooked and put in such shape that there will be no possible danger of a break when the water is turned in.


Friday, November 1, 1907 1;4


A Large Crowd Witnesses The Opening of the Gates at Sterling Thursday

Water was turned into the canal last Thursday at Rock Falls and the government’s big project formerly completed and opened. At a given signal at one p.m. the gates of the great dam stretching from Sterling to Rock Falls across the rock river were closed and the gates into the completed canal feeder opened. Five feet of water poured into the feeder and went whirling down toward the main canal thirty miles away. The water was stopped at Green River acquduct by the gates which were opened several days later.


Fully 80,000 people were in Sterling and Rock Falls to witness the event and the people lined the banks of the canal near bend of the canal near the head gates like bees, to witness the boats in the water parade get locked through. After this event there was speaking near the head of the canal. Among those who spoke were Governors DENEEN and Van SANT; Congressman LOWDEN, Congressman Clark E. CARR of Galesburg, Dr. McGEE of the Interstate Water Ways commission, Col. CRAFTS of the Chicago Association of Commerce and others.


Governor DENEEN hailed the event as one fully equaling in importance the opening of the Erie canal in New York. Ex-congressman T. J. HENDERSON, who bombarded the river and hardor committee of congress in behalf of the project for over a score of years, was on hand to relate the struggle in detail and the final triumph.


Congressman LOWDEN made a good speech although laboring under the disadvantage of poor health. He thought every city or village along the canal should profit by the mistakes made by railroads and at once buy pier space for all time.


Tampico was nearly desserted during the day, everybody being at Rock Falls to witness the ceremonies connected with the canal which is *******


Friday, November 1, 1907 2;2


The water in the canal east of town has raised several feet since the water was turned in at sterling last week. Haney CAIN and his force of men have been very busy watching the banks for breaks or seepage which so far has given some trouble in the vicinity of Ed BRADY’s south of Tampico. The water boils under the banks in several places like it boils up out of a spring. The “leaks” are not serious and the government has a force of men and teams at work grading and strengthening the banks at the weak spots.


November 22, 1907 1;2


Rambler in Charge of Engineer Reeves Makes Trip Through The Feeder to Sterling

The first canl boat to navigate the canal feeder arrived at “Port Tampico” the highway bridge due east of here Monday afternoon at 3:30 o’clock with a former Tampico young man, civil engineer H. E. REEVES, in charge. A large number of Tampico citizen were at the bridge and gave a mighty shout as the boat hove in sight around the curve in sight just below the railroad bridge and the dozen Tampico people who had been below this bridge and boarded the boat on the invitation of engineer REEVES waved their handkerchiefs and answered with a hurrah.


The boat was the Rambler which was pushed by a large gasoline launch.  The Rambler is a fifty foot inspection boat fitted up on the plan of a house boat. In the front is the office and living rooms, back of this is the berths, dining room and kitchen. Accompanying Engineer REEVES on the first trip over the canal were his wife and baby, a young lady and a crew of two men, all of whom have commodious quaarters and enjoyed the trip from Rock Island here very much.


The Rambler tied up at the bridge here Monday night and proceeded to that place after an uneventful voyage at 12:25 o’clock. Engineer REEVES while here Monday night was the guest of Mr. and Mrs. Fred BREWER. Mr. REEVES’ parents formerly resided three miles east of  Tampico and he spent his early manhood in this vicinity and of course had many friends who were especialy glad to welcome him as the first person to navigate the canal.


Speaking about the trip from Rock Island here Mr. REEVES said that as soon as the Marion completed the voyage on the main canal and got into Rock Island, The Rambler started east on the canal until she reached the **************** the soundings showed depths varying from five and one haff feet to seven. The shallowest place was in the aquaduct over Green River where the water is only five and one half feet deep. In some places progress was slow on account of large patches of “seaweed” but altogether the trip was a very successful one and it shows that the realization of the dreams of Tampico people have come true, that boats can and will go up and down the canal and that the “big ditch” will be a feature in the world’s transportaion.


From Tampico to Sterling

The voyage of The Rambler up the canal feeder has proven that the canal feeder has proven that the canal is navigable, will handle boats of fair size and that Tampico to Sterling via water is no longer a dream. The Rambler made the trip from Tampico to Sterling in four hours, necessarily going slow on account of the fact  that she was pushed by a gasoline launch which was given about all it could handle. On the boat when it left Tampico at 7:30 o’clock Tuesday morning were Engineer REEVES, Mrs. REEVES and baby, George ISHERWOOD, Mrs. REEVES’ hired girl who acted as cook and two members of the cre. Shortly after starting breakfast was served aboard, engineer REEVES taking the wheel while the crew dined. The canal trailed in front and behind like a vast ribbon and where it was built up above the surrounding country fine views were presented, otherwise it was a succession of dreary waste banks gliding by to the steady dum, dum of  the engine. Farmers left the corn fields and waved welcomes as they stood on the banks and at nearly every bridge there was a welcome. About four miles from Rock Falls capttain WHEELER, Mrs. WHEELER, daughter and son, Miss Grace DEYOE, Mrs. HOHNENS, Mrs. W. M. DILLON and several others came aboard having come down the canal by the train to meet the boat. Twas a jolly party that waved a response to the crowd on the banks at Rock Falls nd listened to the din of a hundred whistles annoncing to the two cities that the first boat had come over the canal.


First to Navigate the Canal


When The Rambler pulled into Tampico last Monday on the canal it had**** board quite a delegation of Tampico citizens who had walked down to railroad bridge and boarded it on invitation of Engineer REEVES and  those people were the first from Tampico to take a voyage on the canal. **************


*************************** Burk bridge where she got aboard  and he then drove to the bridge east of town. The following is a list of The Rambler’s Tampico passengers as near as could be ascertained in the rush and crowd: Messrs. And Madames Ed EMMONS, Alfred SMITH, William PARENT, Jerry KELLY, Mrs. Ina HELLIER and daughter Lois,  Miss Ethel SMITH,  John STROUSS amd son, Bert GLASSBURN and others.      



Friday, December 13, 1907            


The Sterling Comapnys Best Pays a Big Dividend  Hauling Grain on Main Canal                 

That there will be considerale traffic on the canal and that Tampico will be benefited can be seen by the recent report of the Sterling, Dixon and Rock Falls Packet Co. which was organized at Sterling just before the water was turned into the canal. The companny has operated boats on n the Main canal for about six weeks and have carried vast quantities of coal and grain. At a recent meeting of the directors inSterling a dividend of more than seven per cent on the stock was declared. The company’s boats hauled over 125,000 bushels of corn, oats and other grain down the Illinois River during the six weeks that followed the organization of the packet company and the stockholders have the money in their pockets representing a part of the profits. It is understood that  part of the earnings have been held by the directors for the purpose of makig some improvements in their steamer, which is now docked and in the hands of the ship carpenters. There will be additional boats added to the fleet and as soon as the ice is out of the canal and rivers there will be soething ding for SHONTZ seems to be a hustler and his associates have confidence that there is money in canal boating even in these days of railroading.


The croakers who howled for a dozen years saying that the canal would never see a boat carry a load of grain or coal will be glad to forget that they have ever been prophets. The only think that prevented coal from being delivered here this fall is that there was not enough water in the big ditch until the ice was so thick that ordinary boats could hardly crowd their way through it. There was a string of barges loaded with coal for Sterling lying below Milan for a week waiting for the water and were still there when the M*** (Marion?) made the first trip through *** ***al.






RELATED LINK: Hennepin Canal Parkway; Tornado articles regarding canal

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