The Building of Starved Rock Dam

Photo Donated by Tracey Ristau-MacLeod

Taken From the Henry Republican, Henry IL
April 1 1915

The old Illinois and Michigan canal extends from Ashland avenue in the City of Chicago to the City of LaSalle on the Illinois river, being a total length of 96 miles. The width of this canal at the top is 60 feet and has a width of 40 feet on the bottom and an approximate depth of six feet. The locks are 103 feet long by 17 ½ feet wide, permitting the passage of a boat carrying 200 tons.

The new waterway, which Governor Dunne so heartily recommends, involves the deepening of the Illinois river from LaSalle (which is now the head of navigation) to Starved Rock State Park; the construction of a lock and dam in the Illinois river at Starved Rock; the construction of a connecting channel and lock between the Illinois river and the Illinois and Michigan canal below Marseilles; the construction of a crib dam in the Illinois river, a lock and connecting channel just above Marseilles and a connecting channel and lock between the Illinois river and the Illinois and Michigan canal just below Dresden; the improvement of the Illinois and Michigan canal from Dresden to the southern terminus of the drainage canal at Joliet; and the construction of a new and larger lock at the sanitary district power house at Lockport.

This project utilized the Illinois river as a waterway for about 45 miles and the Illinois and Michigan canal for about 20 miles and completes an eight-foot deep waterway connecting Lake Michigan and the sanitary canal with the Illinois river at La Salle. The minimum width of the river channel is to be 150 feet and the canal 60 feet. The river locks are to be 55 feet wide and 250 feet long, while the canal locks are to be 45 feet wide by 250 long, large enough to pass any lake or river-going vessel which does not exceed the draft capacity of the canal and the canalized river. This entire work, it is estimated by competent engineers, can be done in two years at an expense of not to exceed $3,500.

June 24 1915

The waterway law which becomes effective July 1, provides for the expenditure of $5,000,000 for the improvement of the 65 miles between Lockport, where the drainage canal ends, and the Illinois river at Utica. From Lockport to Dresden Heights, a distance of about 20 miles, the new waterway will follow the old Illinois and Michigan canal. This will be deepened to a depth of eight feet. From Dresden Heights all the way down to Starved Rock the waterway will follow the Illinois river.

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