Celebrate The I&M Canal’s 175th Anniversary!

In April 1848, the Illinois & Michigan Canal officially opened. By connecting Lake Michigan to the Illinois River (which in turn led to the Mississippi River), the canal offered–for the first time–an inland, all-water route from the East Coast to the Gulf of Mexico.

Travel, transportation and industry boomed; canal communities blossomed and the city of Chicago, a hub on this route, grew to become a major metropolitan center.

From April 2023 through April 2024, we’ll celebrate this anniversary with events held throughout the I&M Canal National Heritage Area, including:
Historical Lectures
Site Explorations
Music Festivals
Special Tours
Jr. Ranger Days
And so much more!

Discover the Canal Stories

From prehistoric times to modern day and Abraham Lincoln to Groucho Marx, we’ve collected hundreds of fascinating stories that took place in our National Heritage Area and impacted the state, nation and world.