Rediscovering the Illinois River

Rediscovering the Illinois River

There are 16 comments on the Chicago Tribune story from Aug 6, 2007, titled Rediscovering the Illinois River. In it, Chicago Tribune reports that:

For centuries, thousands of bison roamed the bluffs of the Illinois River. Now only Holly and Pebbles remain.

Join the discussion below, or Read more at Chicago Tribune.

NorthShore Resident

Skokie, IL

#1 Aug 7, 2007
Outstanding and relevant article. Sincere thanks to the writer for experiencing this firsthand and to the Conservancy Media for bringing this to the writer's attention.
Restore even more

Naperville, IL

#4 Aug 7, 2007
What a great article-bringing this conflicting situation and the river's condition to the forefront. Restoring even more of Illinois and its waterways is hopefully in our future. I look forward to reading and learning more.
river rat

Pekin, IL

#5 Aug 7, 2007
Congratulations Jason George, you've finally given the Illinois River the attention it deserves (sarcasm). Actually, I thought your story was another example of pretentious dung written by another overpaid writer who is obviously afraid to get his shoes muddy.

Let's take this paragraph from the story:

"These days, most people probably know the Illinois only as a diagonal line that snakes across the middle of state maps. Few can tell you it's the longest and largest river within the state. Even fewer can speak of traveling upon it."

Listen jerk, in case you have never looked at a map, thousands of people live along the Illinois River. Not only that, but those people have a culture of which they are very proud.

"a little-explored backwater, with its glory days behind it... It still has a story to tell." What crap!

It's telling its story, Georgie boy. Next time you find yourself floating down the river, get out of the boat and walk around. Pick up one of the local newspapers.

Central Illiniois' River culture is alive and kicking, the color of the water be damned. Why explore a river that is already in your backyard?

My grandma always told me two things, never swim in the Illinois River and never trust a man with two first names, Jason George.
North Side Rat

Prospect Heights, IL

#6 Aug 7, 2007
In regards to 'River Rat,' I hear what you're saying about two first names, but at least be honest about the story bro....
river rat wrote:
Not only that, but those people have a culture of which they are very proud.
"a little-explored backwater, with its glory days behind it... It still has a story to tell." What crap!
but the sentence actually reads:

"it is not just a skinny lake or a little-explored backwater, with its glory days behind it."

See the word NOT?

It makes the exact argument you're arguing for!
river rat

Louisville, KY

#7 Aug 8, 2007
Okay, I see your point. I'm sorry for rushing to any conclusions.

Dana, IL

#8 Aug 8, 2007
If you don,t like it here don,t come back stay in the city where you belong with the rest of your trash.
martin weiss

Kansas City, MO

#9 Aug 8, 2007
Next time you have a few weeks, take a canoe instead of a motorboat. Symphonies of birdsong, trumpeting stags, slapping beaver, and cries of eagles await you. The crystalline silence of the river will awaken awe and a respect for Nature populated by others beside man. Along the Chicago River, too, you'll find beaver, wild geese and ducks, foxes, otters, deer, and coyotes, even in downtown Chicago among the skyscrapers.
Having canoed the length of the Illinois several times, I can recommend plenty of sandy beaches and free firewood, too. Yes, it is polluted. No, you can't drink the water and one shouldn't eat the fish very often, if ever. There are too many heavy metals and chemicals burdening the river for it to be anything but a facade of the wild and wholesome resource humans have dumped their production costs into. But even the facade is beautiful, after you get past Joliet and the assorted sewerage that coats the banks.
Like the Mississippi, you'll have it all to yourself. Apart from a towboat every couple of hours, there's nobody out there. But allow the towboats plenty of room. The pilots are constricted enough without having to worry about you. Also, one of the last free government services is the locks, which will move a million gallons of water just to get you up or down river. The river meanders through town centers that look abandoned, because everyone's at the Wal-Mart on the edge of town. There are a few mussel-gatherers, but otherwise there's little or no money to be made on the river and thus there's little commerce or traffic except for the occasional fisherman. The lack of other people is stunning, except for national holidays, when it's crowded with cigarette boats and other rowdy intruders. You'll have this huge and exquisite resource all to yourself most hours of the day and night. The same is true of the Mississippi. In this age of concentrated populations, you will be alone on the big river just like LaSalle and Marquette. There you will also find plenty of sandy beaches and free firewood. Stop in a river town every few days for groceries and water and you have a luxurious and inexpensive vacation. There's no lugging a pack--the canoe will carry more camping equipment than you would dream of and enable one to live and eat well. Camp in the country rather than in town where those who live under bridges might be tempted to seek comfort from you.
The current is slow, two or three m.p.h., so plan on making ten miles a day at first if you paddle consistently. After a few days, you'll be adept and strong enough to paddle all day. Beginners should take the Boy Scout canoeing manual. It will instruct and aid in ways it would take weeks to think of yourself, as well as offer safety tips. Chicagoland canoe base is a good source of equipment and advice. Prepare yourself for a revelation-- it's that beautiful.

New Lenox, IL

#10 Aug 9, 2007
Very good article. Please write others on the Kankakee, Iriquois and other rivers in Illinois. People should know of these attributes. I for one am interested and I would rather read this than the continual bads news that grabs headlines.
Andrew Reeves

Chicago, IL

#11 Aug 9, 2007
Great story. As a long-time member of the Nature Conservancy and one who follows the Illinois River project closely, I'm glad to see the Illinois river get some notice for it's importance in restoring former riverine habitats and the current-day sometimes uneasy balance between recreational and commercial activities taking place along the length of the river.
Bill McNulty


#13 Aug 9, 2007
luv it!
Chris Crawford

Willow Springs, IL

#14 Aug 9, 2007
I'm from Peoria and I'm glad that Jason George and the Tribune have decided to focus on a real Illinois treasure.
I would recommend that anyone interested in finding out more about the River to take a ride along some of the "River Roads" that follow it around the state.
The picture above is looking South of Lacon Illinois towards, Peoria, my hometown and once again soon to be my place of residence.
There is nothing better then watching the sun disappear over the bluffs along the shoreline of the Illinois on a summer evening. I've always found the Illinois River to have significant periods of calm making for a very peaceful setting. It is unlike other Rivers, i.e. the Mississippi, which tend to move much faster. On the Illinois you can float and not worry about going very far.
It is great for waterskiing and viewing nature. In the fall, the bluffs bleed yellow and red as Winter begins to knock on the door. Anyone wanting to see the best fall colors in Illinois should make a trip down to Peoria to see the color of the bluffs with the meandering River in the background.
The coasts and the mountain states always boast their environmental resources. I like those places too, but I still find the Illinois River and its shoreline to be my favorite. It speaks as if it is undiscovered. Get out on the river on a quiet evening and it will give you the peace you seek.
Susan Douglas

Waterford, ME

#15 Aug 10, 2007
This is an excelent article. Great overview and history, higly informative!! Good job to the writer and photographer!
Scott Crawford

Bolingbrook, IL

#16 Aug 10, 2007
Excellent article - I, like my brother commenting before me, think the Illinois River is an underdiscovered treasure of the State. The vistas overlooking the River valley especially in Peoria are reminiscent of central Europe. I encourage all nature enthusiasts and people interested in Illinois history to take time to leisurely travel the Illinois River valley.

Since: Aug 07

Location hidden

#17 Aug 15, 2007
I grew up near the Illinois River it is stunning seeing it fron the water to shore veiw . Lots of great photo's to be had.
martin weiss

Saint Louis, MO

#18 Aug 27, 2007
For a challenge, try to find the "Council Chamber" cave at Starved Rock State Park. It's visible in early spring because the trees are leafless. In summer, you'll have a hard time finding it even if you know where it is. It's a great place to camp overnight with a campfire. It will shelter you from wind and rain, too. But beware the mighty beaver who will resent your invasion of his territory, sneak up on you and slap the water so loud you'll be shocked out of your reverie.
Of course, wait till the floodwaters diminish before you venture out on the river, fast currents and high water can be treacherous.


Since: Apr 07

Holland, MI

#19 Sep 3, 2007
Make sure you arrive early for this weekends Turd Race and Bobbing Competition.Winner gets an autographed picture of Lloyd Carr and a U of M jersey.

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