History of Utica Township, LaSalle County, Illinois

Utica Township

Utica embraces that part of T. 33, R. 2, which lies north of the Illinois river, being about half a township; the river, which is the southern boundary, running about due west, near the centre line of the town. There is a wide strip of bottom land between the bluff and the river, most of it very valuable for agriculture, but more so for the rich mineral wealth it contains. The beds of hydraulic lime which here lie near the surface, and are easily accessible, are the only ones found in the State, and the source of a large and valuable business.

This bottom land was the favorite resort of the Illinois Indians, who occupied it in great numbers, and both savage and civilized men have ever regarded it as a point of attraction, for its beautiful scenery, its rich soil, and mineral wealth. Old Utica was a town on the river first occupied by Simon Crosiar, and when the business was all done by river boats, was a commercial point of some importance, the boats arriving and departing with considerable regularity. It was regarded as the head of navigation, except at very high water when the boats ascended to Ottawa. But the building of the canal and the Rock Island Railroad, both along the foot of the bluff, on the opposite side of the valley, a mile distant, and the river boats all discharging at the basin at La Salle, dried up its sources of business, and it now stands like Goldsmith's deserted village. Instead of the panting of the river boat, its shrill note of arrival and departure, and the busy hum of the cheerful denizens of the embryo town on shore,

"Along its glades a solitary guest, The hollow sounding bittern guards its nest; Sunk are its bowers in shapeless ruin all, And the rank weeds o'ertop the crumbling wall." But New Utica, a mile north, has taken its place. With the railroad and canal for transportation; its large manufacture of hydraulic lime, and sewer and drain tile, and export of St. Peter's sand for the manufacture of glass, with the large shipment of grain from Utica township, Waltham, and other towns on both sides of the river, the young town may well anticipate a successful future. But while it exults in its own prosperity it should remember the changes and mutations which attend towns and cities, as well as men, and heave a sigh for the disappointed anticipations which once clustered around its older rival.

Should the contemplated ship canal become a reality-a not improbable occurrence-and the business return to the river, Old Utica might arise from its ashes, and drop a tear for the blasted hopes of the New.

The town of Utica, with its wooded bluffs running nearly through its centre, with the Percomsoggin, crossing its western portion, with Clark's Run and other points of timber piercing the prairie, was so well supplied with timber that it commenced settling at an early day.

[Source: History of LaSalle County, Illinois by Elmer Baldwin, Chicago, Rand, McNally & Co., Printers, 1877, SKETCH OF THE PIONEER SETTLERS OF EACH TOWN IN THE COUNTY, Utica, Page 354-355 - Transcribed by Nancy Piper]