DYK Illinois and Michigan CanalYesterday, the Illinois and Michigan Canal celebrated its 168th birthday. Opened on April 10, 1848, the canal was built to connect the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River, leading to expanded growth of the Chicago region.

In 1822, the United States Congress approved a land grant for the young state to start building the canal. Construction would officially begin in 1836, but was delayed because of an economic depression that struck the country.

The canal was finished in 1848 at a cost of $6.2 million. The canal started functioning by mule-drawn towlines that would pull commodities from lock to lock along paths that ran the entirety of the 96 mile canal. By the early 1870s, the mules would be replaced by steam-propelled boats.

However, the expansion of railroad greatly diminished the use of the canal. In 1933, the canal ceased to operate entirely. The Civilian Conservation Corps would later restore several of the original 15 locks in an attempt to preserve history. In 1984, President Ronald Reagan signed a law that created the Illinois and Michigan Canal National Heritage Corridor.

Many communities arose from the creation of the canal, including Joliet, Lockport, Ottawa and La Salle.

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To learn more about the Illinois and Michigan Canal State Trail: click here.

GrandersonSMDYKBorn in Blue Island, IL and raised in Lynwood, IL, the major league power slugger is a three-time MLB All-Star and even won the Silver Slugger Award, which goes to the best offensive player at each position, in 2011.

Granderson got his start playing baseball and basketball for Thornton Fractional High School, where he posted stellar numbers, leading to a scholarship to play baseball for the University of Illinois-Chicago Flames. After his junior season, he was named Second-Team All-American after recording a standout .483 batting average, but not all of Granderson’s achievements came on the field. He graduated the next year with a double major in business administration and business marketing.

He made his major league debut for the Detroit Tigers in 2004, helping lead his team to the 2006 World Series, and in 2007, became only the second player in franchise history to have at least 30 doubles, 15 triples, 15 home runs and 10 stolen bases in a single season.

After being traded to the New York Yankees in 2009, he was voted an All-Star for the first time. During his tenure with the Yankees, he would become the first player to record 40 home runs, 10 triples and 25 stolen bases in a single season! He finished fourth in MVP voting that year.

In December 2013, he agreed to a four-year contract with the Yankees’ cross-town rival, the New York Mets. In 2015, he helped the New York Mets win the National League Championship and return to the World Series for the first time since 2000.

Off the field, Granderson founded the Grand Kids Foundation, benefiting education in inner cities, and even authored a children’s book. His total commitment to the next generation has garnished the praise of figures such as Commissioner of Baseball Bud Selig and First Lady Michelle Obama.

Learn more

Look up a complete archive of Curtis Granderson’s career stats.

Visit his official ESPN page for more information about Granderson’s career.

Did You Know? The modern dialysis machine was invented in IllinoisWhile dialysis was first successfully designed and implemented in the Netherlands during the Nazi occupation of that country in 1943 by Dr. Willem Johan Kolff, the initial device was crude at best.

When Baxter International CEO William B. Graham discovered Dr. Kolff’s device, he saw potential and the Deerfield, Illinois company began design and production of its own dialysis machines in 1956.

This modern medical device is now used for countless patients the world over in treating numerous kidney disorders such as acute renal failure and hemophilia.

Learn more:
Single-minded Man Of Vision (Chicago Tribune)

DYK JesseOwensOn March 28, 1990, President George H.W. Bush awarded Olympic gold medalist Jesse Owens with the Congressional Gold Medal.

Owens was born to Henry and Emma Alexander Owens in Alabama on Sept. 12, 1913. His family moved to Cleveland, Ohio, when he was 9 which is where his athletic career began.

In 1928, Owens would set the junior high school records by clearing 6 feet in the high jump and almost leaping 23 feet in the broad jump. Eight years later, he represented the United States in track and field at the Berlin Olympic games.

Owens set a record for most gold medals by an African American Olympian in a single Olympiad. He won four gold medals in the 100 meter, 200 meter, 4x100 meter and the long jump.

Later in life, Owens became an inspirational speaker and addressed youth groups, civic meetings, PTAs and others. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Gerald Ford in 1976. In 1979, he received the Living Legend Award from President Jimmy Carter.

Jesse Owens passed away March 31, 1980, due to complications from lung cancer. He was buried at Oak Woods Cemetery in Chicago.

For more information: http://www.jesseowens.com/

DYK World Poetry DayIn 1999, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) adopted a resolution declaring March 21 as World Poetry Day.

Poetry is a form of literature that uses aesthetic and rhythmic qualities of language to evoke meanings  Robert Frost said, “Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words.”

The day was proclaimed by UNESCO to support linguistic diversity through poetic expression and to offer endangered languages the opportunity to be heard within their communities. World Poetry Day precedes the U.S. National Poetry Month in April.

Austrian coffee company Julius Meinl allows its customers on World Poetry Day to pay for their coffee with a poem. Last year, coffee drinkers from 1,153 coffee houses in 27 countries paid for their coffee with a poem.

One of Illinois’ most famous poets was Carl Sandburg, who was born in Galesburg in 1878. He wrote poems about the state of Illinois and Chicago. He also wrote biographies about Abraham Lincoln and his family.

For more information:

UNESCO World Poetry Day: http://www.un.org/en/events/poetryday/index.shtml

Illinois Poet Laureate: http://www.illinois.gov/poetlaureate/Pages/default.aspx

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