Did you know? Illinois is home to the only river in the world that flows backwards.

The Chicago River, known mainly for the different colors it is dyed to celebrate different events and holidays, has been a hallmark of Chicago since the earliest days of the city. The first European to permanently settle in Chicago, Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, built his farm on the north shore of the river’s mouth. Fort Dearborn, the first American settlement, was built right across the river at the south shore of the mouth.

Most people don’t know that the river flows backwards.

To combat the pollution of the river caused by the growing industrial city, the Sanitary District of Chicago made efforts to reverse the flow of the river. The greatest of these efforts began in 1900.

Building a system of locks and canals, the District reversed the flow from Lake Michigan, diverting the water into the newly constructed Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal.

In 1999, the American Society of Civil Engineers named the Chicago River flow reversal the “Civil Engineering Monument of the Millennium”.

Today, the Chicago River system includes the North and South Branches along with the Main Stem of the Chicago River. Additionally, the North Shore Channel, the Sanitary and Ship Canal and the Calumet Sag Channel make up 52 miles of the river’s constructed waterways.

If you are interested in learning more about what the Chicago River has to offer, you can visit the website of Friends of the Chicago River.

Weldon Springs State Park

The winter weather is no reason to stay inside when there’s an abundance of activities at Weldon Springs State Park and Clinton Lake State Recreation Area. From cross country skiing to ice fishing, hiking and ice skating, these sites offer fun activities for all.

Located southeast of Clinton in DeWitt County, Weldon Springs State Park and Clinton Lake State Recreation Area are a 15 minute drive from each other. 

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Illinois park of the month: Siloam Springs State Park

Winter is on the way, but that doesn’t mean you have to stay away from Illinois’ parks. Some of them have fun activities during every season.

Located in Adams County, Siloam Springs State Park has opportunities for ice skating, ice fishing, cross country skiing and sledding when winter conditions permit.

Siloam Springs has gorgeous wooded terrain and is known for being one of the most beautiful parks in the state. During warmer months, visitors can enjoy camping and picnicking. Family friendly picnic areas have grills, playground equipment, horseshoe pits, shelters and tables.

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Illinois park of the month: Kankakee River State Park

Located in Bourbonnais, Kankakee River State Park has a rich history that includes being inhabited by Native Americans, traders and farmers.

Recreational opportunities are available throughout the year.

A main attraction at Kankakee River State Park is the Kankakee River. Enveloping both sides of the Kankakee River, the park has 4,000 acres.

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Illinois park of the month: Fort Massac State Park

With the leaves changing color, October is a great time to visit Fort Massac State Park in Metropolis.

The park, which is steeped in history dating back centuries, has been preserved since 1908, when it became the Land of Lincoln’s first park.

The unique Fort Massac Encampment attracts approximately 200,000 people and is held for two days each October. At the event, Illinois’ frontier history is re-created by historical actors and skilled craftspeople. People attending can view military camps, see crafts and visit booths with period food and drinks.

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