As I cruised the Illinois Waterway I discovered a river of many faces. From remote places of great natural beauty to the skyscrapers of Chicago and about everything between these extremes. I am considered a naturalist and certainly do prefer the most natural of landscapes but the exception to that was the thrill of cruising on the Chicago River at night. It is amazing to slip along quietly on the dark waters among the huge towers, lights, bridges, traffic and many people. Chicago is a beautiful city from the river and the Lake Michigan coast. That experience alone made the trip from St. Louis worth-while.
From the scenic area of Starved Rock to the concrete canyons of Chicago, the Illinois Waterway has much to offer
One Illinois community is bringing attention to the problem by having an annual "Redneck Fishing Tournament". Fishing poles are not allowed but about anything else is to catch the fish, including nets and clubs. Bath, Illinois has been featured on several documentaries for their unique event. Most people have no taste for the fish or won't try it but there are some fisherman who have found that the Asian market in some large cities will buy the fish and so they are being harvested. One of the fears is that the fish will make their way into the Great Lakes. To try to prevent this an electric barrier has been installed in the Illinois Waterways about 50 miles below Chicago. So far this appears to be working.
Joliet...Historic downtown with free overnight public docking next to a nice park, for transient boaters.
Ottawa...Also historic and beautiful city that caters to traveling boaters. They provide a free overnight dock and everything needed is close by. The Fox River flows in at Ottawa providing good anchorage.
Hennepin...Great little river town! They have plenty of public docks and ramps that are close to many conveniences. This pretty town is on high enough ground that there is no levy or flood wall blocking it from the river.
Peoria...With a very active and beautiful riverfront Peoria is a great river city with plenty of boating activity. For a fairly large city, I found that Peoria is small-town friendly and accommodating. (Photo is of Peoria riverfront).
Havana...Brick streets enhance the downtown's charm which is close to boat ramps, docks and a marina.
Beardstown...Pretty town with much to offer river travelers. They overcame being cut-off from the river by a floodwall by designing a catwalk on it and easy access over the wall from the public dock.
Grafton...At the mouth of the Illiinois River, Grafton has everything one might during for a long river trip including a marina, restaurants, stores and lodging.