On their return route from the southern Mississippi River in 1673, French explorers Father Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet became the first Europeans to travel the Chicago Portage, a roughly two mile expanse between the South Branch of the Chicago River and the Des Plaines River in what is now Lyons, Illinois. Much of that area was covered by the now filled-in Mud Lake. Mrs. Marathon Pundit visited the area in late March.
I grew up in Palos Heights, about ten miles south of the portage.
The historical marker at the site, which is near Harlem Avenue and 48th Street.
This iron sculpture, designed by The sculpture is by Ferdinand G. Rebechini, depicts Marquette, Jolliet, and a Native American guide at the portage.
Portage Creek, partially frozen over here, is a tributary to the Des Plaines River.
Marquette and Jolliet immediately grasped the importance of their discovery--and they envisioned a canal to connect the Great Lakes Lakes watershed--the Chicago River--and the Mississippi River watershed of which the Des Plaines is a part. In 1848 their vision became reality when the Illinois & Michigan canal opened. In 1900 the I&M was superseded as a transit waterway by the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal.
By most accounts much of the portage area looks as it did in 1673.
Signage from the Forest Preserve District of Cook County at the portage.
(Photos) The Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal: The most hated body of water in America
(Photos) Illinois & Michigan Canal National Heritage Corridor on its 30th birthday
Upper Peninsula Upventure: Father Marquette