Traveling to Grafton, Il


We left Tall Timber Marina early in the morning we have a long 80 mile day ahead of us.  Jim & Kay (Hiatus) were waiting for us as we cleared the entrance to the marina.  Our plans are to travel today, Labor Day, hopeing we don’t have a long delay at the LaGrange Lock & Dam.  Workers repairing the lock should be off celebrating Labor Day today.


The LaGrange lock & Dam is a Chanoine Wicket Dam our 8th and final lock on the Illinois River going down.  Chanoine Wicket Dams were invented by Frenchman Jacques Chanoine built between 1879-1929 and are very common on both the Illinois and Ohio River.  Each dam consists of a row of 300 or more little dams (wickets) individually hinged to a foundation on the river bottom.  The first ones were constructed of heavy timber about 4 feet wide and up to 20 feet long and raising or lowering was done by a crew on a maneuver boat that moves along the upstream face of the dam.  LaGrange wicket section is 436 feet long counting 109 wickets.  Each wicket is 3.75 feet wide by 14.92 feet high with a .25 foot gap between wickets.  From 1987 -1991 a major rehabilitation changed the physical components of the dam and operating procedures by replacing 26 of the original 135 wicket with a single 84-foot long submersible Tainter gate adjacent to the wall.  A Tainter gate is a large piece of steel the can completely block the river for the width of the gate.   LaGrange is one of only two wicket dams on the Illinois Waterway.

We have been hearing the LaGrange Lock and Dam will be closed Monday through Saturday from 6:00AM to 5:00PM for repairs.  We could expect 12-36 hours delay when they are operational until the lock repair work is completed in mid September.  The lock will be closed 10 hrs. during the day and opened in the evening until morning for 14 hrs. with barges taking priority.


The Army Corps of Engineers considered the LaGrange Lock & Dam to be in the worst shape of all the locks that need repairs.  Built in 1939 it is the southernmost lock on the Illinois River and the structure accommodates a steady stream of barge traffic, moving mostly agricultural commodities as well as recreational vessels.


As we got closer to the lock we could start to see all the barges lining the banks waiting to be locked down.  We didn’t know how many were on the other side of the lock waiting to be locked up the river.  We were lucky with only a 20 minute wait getting into the lock.  I guess navigating on Labor Day was to our advantage.

We are anchoring for the evening by Fisher Island, it’s a good anchorage with plenty of swinging room.  Jim & Kay (Hiatus) are anchored behind us.

Kent and I had a nice dinner, listened to music, and a relaxing evening.  I love to anchor and listen to the water splashing against the sides of the boat.


Tuesday morning we pulled anchor at 7:15 it’s nice and sunny with a slight wind.  We only have 38 miles to navigate to Grafton Il.  This is where we will cross our wake and officially complete the loop, after navigating 6,735 miles.


This is Kampsville ferry, a service that offers Illinois residents and visitors access to inland waterways within or bordering Illinois.  Kampsville ferry carries Illinois Route 108 across the Illinois River to connect with Illinois Route 100 ( Great River Road South) near Kampsville.  IDOT owns and operates two free ferries the Kampsville and Brussels, that travel across the Illinois river.  These ferries are operated 24 hours a day seven days a week.


Oh how beautiful the water is as we navigate down the Il. River.  I wish I could bottle it all up and take it with me.

We are now nearing the end of the Illinois river.  We will rest for a few days in Grafton, Il. before heading home.



We have officially crossed our wake at Grafton, Il. at 11:35 on September 5, 2017.  We still have 360 miles to navigate up the Mississippi River to our home port at Frentress Marina in East Dubuque, Il.

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