Travel Attractions

Illinois River Rafting

The Illinois River is a principal tributary of the Mississippi River, approximately 273 miles (439 km) long, in the state of Illinois in the United States. The river drains a large section of central Illinois, with a drainage basin of 40,000 square miles (104,000 km²).

The river was important among Native Americans and early French traders as the principal water route connecting the Great Lakes with the Mississippi. The colonial settlements along the river formed the heart of the area known as the Illinois Country.

After the construction of the Illinois and Michigan Canal and the Hennepin Canal in the 19th century, the river's role as link between Lake Michigan and the Mississippi was extended into the era of modern industrial shipping.

The Illinois forms part of a modern waterway that connects the Great Lakes at Chicago, Illinois to the Mississippi River. The waterway was originally established by the building of the Illinois and Michigan Canal which connected the Illinois River to the Chicago River.

When the Chicago River was later reversed, the pollution and sewage of the city of Chicago flowed down into the Illinois River. The Illinois and Michigan Canal has since been replaced by the Illinois Waterway including the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal.

The river is controlled by five locks and dams to facilitate river traffic. The waterway is heavily trafficked by barges transporting bulk goods such as grain and oil.

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