Chapter LI

Burlington Saturday Evening Post

Capt E. H. Thomas

Burges Use of Illinois Canals

Bringing Cargoes of Salt from Illinois to Iowa

Old Illinois and Michigan Canal Still Navigable--Joy Morton’s Fleet of Barges


   I regard the proposed use of the two Illinois canals as a matter of great importance, to the shippers and the people of the upper Mississippi river towns, and they should encourage the present movement in every way possible.  Joy Morton, President of the big salt company, has demonstrated that this all water route between Lake Michigan and the Mississippi river is the thing needed to reduce freight rates.  The city of Chicago is now taking an active interest in this project, and the Mississippi river cities should do likewise.  As I have often said, the way to navigate, is to navigate.  This is what Morton is doing, and doing successfully.  He has leased Capt. Wallace’s entire fleet, three steamers and seven barges, and is operating them, transporting salt from Chicago to the west bank of the Mississippi River making a large savings in freight charges.  He has aroused such an interest in this project that meetings are being held in Chicago and other cities over there.  Below I give you the proceedings of one of these meetings, which explains the situation.  The following is copied from the Chicago Record Herald:    federal authorities will aid the project for widening and otherwise improving the old Illinois and Michigan canal from Lockport to La Salle to make that abandoned water way a factor in the transportation of freight from Chicago and the great lakes to Mississippi River points.

   Information to this effect was given at a meeting and luncheon of the water ways committee of the Chicago Association of Commerce at the Union League Club yesterday afternoon.  Joy Morton, who was one of the first in many years to test the practicality of transporting freight by the canal, gave a report on voyages by several boats laden with salt through the canal, and urged the co-operation of the Association of commerce and all Chicago in obtaining an appropriation to carry out the improvement.


$1,000,000 To Be Asked


A bill will be introduced in the next legislation asking that $1,000,000 be appropriated for the improving of the water way.  The canal while it was in use poured into the coffers of the state a profit above expenses and interest of the cost of construction of more than $500,000, which has been diverted by the state into other channels.  The proposed improvement is in no way opposed to the deep water way project.

   William A. Meese, an attorney of Moline, who is interested in the project, addressed the meeting yesterday afternoon and stated that the federal government had plans under consideration for the reopening of the canal if the project was once started.

   The steamer Aeolius and a barge will carry the commissioners of the canal and guests through the old water way from Joliet to La Salle tomorrow, leaving Joliet at 8 o’clock.


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