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Events mark 30th anniversary of canal heritage corridor

The Canal Corridor Association has scheduled a series of free events from Lemont to LaSalle next weekend to kick off a year-long celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Illinois & Michigan Canal National Heritage Corridor.  

Ana Koval, the association’s CEO, billed the Aug. 23-24 Canal Corridor Caravan as “a roadtrip to discover history and explore nature in your backyard.”

“We want to show off some of the many special places along the historic corridor with ‘mini’ tours at nearly 20 stops,” Koval said.  

The two-day, eight-town event will showcase sites that helped make the Illinois & Michigan Canal the backbone of the nation’s first National Heritage Corridor, Koval said.  

Scheduled stops for Aug. 23 include:

• Lemont: Historic St. James Church and cemetery, tours of the Heritage Quarries Recreation Area or historic downtown Lemont, followed by lunch at The Inn at Smokey Row.

• Lockport: Illinois State Museum Lockport Gallery (Quilting Exhibit and new River Weaving Sculpture set in the I&M Canal), followed by a tour of Will County Historical Society archives.

• Joliet: The Joliet Area Historical Museum’s Route 66 Visitors Center will offer drive through goodie bags.

• Wilmington: Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie for a unique tour.

• Morris: Dinner at Chapin’s Restaurant. 

The itinerary for Aug. 24 includes:

• Morris: A bicycle or walking tour at Aux Sable Creek, which also features Lock 8, a preserved locktender’s house and the Aux Sable Creek aqueduct. Breakfast will be offered at the Grundy County Historical Museum in Morris.

• Seneca: A visit to the grain elevator along the I&M Canal.  

• Ottawa: Tours of the Reddick Mansion, Ottawa Tollhouse and Washington Park.

• LaSalle: Lunch at Lock 16 Visitors Center, free LaSalle Canal Boat rides, a Commemorative Caravan Photo at the Boat, and celebratory cake, followed by a tour of the Hegeler Carus Mansion. 

• Utica: A visit to the LaSalle County Historical Society & Museum, where participants can sit and take photos of the desk used by President Ronald Reagan 30 years to the day, as he signed into legislation the designation of the nation’s very first Heritage Corridor.

Participants can join in on any or all of the activities on the two-day route. Pre-planned meals will be available at several caravan stops during the two-day event.

Registration is required at or 815-223-1851.

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