Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Last Leg of the Journey on Highway 6

There are about 21 historic landmarks to stop marked on our map of the Illinois Michigan  Driving Tour from Lockport to LaSalle, Illinois.  We certainly did not have the time to see them all as our plans were to be back in St. Louis that evening.  At the last town, LaSalle, we did take time to look at a couple of interesting sites.  The first stop was at the LaSalle Canal Boat Park.  Here it is possible to take a mule-pulled boat ride down the canal.  We had done that in the past somewhere in Ohio, so we chose instead to look at the artwork in the park- which are metal statues of the various passengers who once rode the canal.  First I have a picture of the passenger boat the "Volunteer".
In front of the boat is a statue of the last river boat captain, John Connett.  Nearby I noticed there were horse stables where one mule was penned.  Fortunately I had some carrots to offer him.
Most of the metal statues in the park were of  the passengers who once rode the canal boat.  Abraham Lincoln was one of them, along with his wife Mary and their two sons Robert Todd and Edward (ages 5 and 2 respectively).  They took the canal's inaugural boat ride from Chicago to LaSalle.
In the background of the picture above is Chief Shabbona, who also once rode the canal boat.
Not everyone liked riding the canal boat.  The daughter of then Governor Joel Matteson
(nine-year-old Clara) was quoted as saying: "so crude that I cannot understand how people submitted to it".   Another woman commented that she was glad to get off and that the boat was "a low crowded place moving along at a snail's pace".  The quotes I took from interpretive signs near the artwork.  The passenger service stopped in 1853, when traveling by train was possible.
Our last stop in the town of LaSalle was at the Hegeler Carus Mansion.  Built in 1874 it was the birthplace for Open Court Publishing Company.   A tourist brochure indicated that the company was an important American center for scientific, philosophical, education and religious dialogue.  It was also home for a family of zinc manufacturers.  This 57 room mansion has many of its original architectural finishes and is undergoing restoration.  I must say that if it were at all possible we would love to repeat our trip on Highway 6 and see everything we missed!
Not sure if I will be writing from St.Louis anymore, in a week we will be heading east.  Please stay connected!

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