Des Plaines River (8/31/17)

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The weather this morning is sunny and cool with high winds.  We spent the night on the wall above Lockport Lock and Dam along with “High Spirits” and “Odmark”.  High Spirit was in front of us and we saw the trouble he had getting off the wall with the wind, knowing we were next.  The wind was not our friend and getting off the wall was not easy, but Captain Kent with his knowledge, along with our rear boat thruster was able to maneuver off the wall without any damage to our boat. The Lockport lock was ready and waiting for us when we arrived.

The 40 ft. lock opened in 1933 and was one of five designed and partially constructed by the state of Illinois over a period from 1923 to 1930. The complex was about 97 percent complete when construction was turned over to the federal government due to state financial difficulties. The lock was completed and opened in 1933 along with the other four locks downstream Brandon Road, Dresden Island, Marseilles, and Starved Rock lock and dams.

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We are now navigating on what is called the Des Plaines River named by early French Courier de bois (around the 18th centuries) after the trees lining the banks of the river.  The slow-moving river rises in Southern Wisconsin, flows southward through marshland as it crosses into Illinois.  Eventually the river joins with the Sanitary and Ship Canal in Lockport before flowing through the city of Joliet.  Just west of Joliet the Des Plaines converges with the Kankakee River to form the Illinois River.

As we navigate through Joliet City Center we have four bridges the Chess Railroad lift bridge, Ruby, Jackson, and Cast Street drawbridges that we need to have opened for us.  Bill from “High Spirt” in front of us called on his VHF radio for the Chess Lift Bridge to open and bridge operator informed the next three bridges of our arrival and they were opened when we arrived.

We are now navigating through Joliet Il. which is 40 miles southwest of Chicago and the third largest city in Illinois. In 1673 Louis Jolliet, along with Father Jacques Marquette  paddled up the Des Plaines River and camped on a huge mound, a few miles south of present-day Joliet. That hill was named Mound Jolliet and was mined by early settlers. Now Mound Jolliet is only a depression. In 1834 Juliet was named after James Campbell daughter but the name was changed to Joliet in 1845. While the heart and history of Joliet is centered around the Des Plaines River Joliet actually expands also across the DuPage River.

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Joliet has a free dock you can tie up to at the Billie Limacher Will-Joliet Bicentennial Park and tour the town. We had to wait for the Brandon Road Lock so we took advantage of the free dock. The wall is rough as you can see so we had to use several fenders while we waited for the lock. If you choose to spend the night take note that it is quiet during the day but there are many inquisitive youngsters, and not advisable to leave your boat at night.

Our wait for the Brandon Road lock 34 ft. was not to long so Kent and I, along with several other boats decided to continue navigating on the Des Plaines River rather than staying at the free dock overnight in Joliet.  Barb and Bill “High Spirit” decided to stay.  In the lock Jim and Kay “Hiatus” tied to us as not enough bollards for all the boats.  Jim and Kay are from Milwaukee and have just started the loop.  They followed us the rest of the day and we both stayed at Harborside marina in Wilmington Il.

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What a beautiful sun set.

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