The Illinois and Michigan Canal, 1827–1911
A Selection of Documents from the Illinois State Archives
DOCUMENT 17LETTER FROM JACOB FRY AND WILLIAM GOODING TO DAVID LEAVITT CONCERNING AN ADVANCED PAYMENT ON A CONTRACT
September 15, 1845
La Salle was the canal's western terminus. There it connected with the Illinois River. By design the canal was not built to carry river-going steamboats. Consequently goods headed north had to be brought up the Illinois River on steamboats and then offloaded onto canal boats at La Salle. Goods being shipped south had to be removed from canal boats when they reached La Salle and there placed on steamboats. A steamboat channel and basin were constructed for this purpose. The first contract for this work had been let as early as October 20, 1836.
Transshipment was both time-consuming and expensive. As a fixed feature of the canal's design it was ultimately to be one of the causes of the enterprise's undoing. Although still in their unproven infancy, railroads were to provide more versatility and dependability.
Work all along the length of the canal had resumed by the late summer of 1845. In some places it proceeded more orderly than in others.
For a map of the completed canal route, see Exhibit A.
Points to Consider
What were Jacob Fry and William Gooding asking David Leavitt to do in this letter?
Why did Mr. Hardy need to be partially paid before he had fulfilled his contract?
Why were a steamboat channel and basin being built at La Salle?
When the canal eventually was completed and opened to traffic, what operation was going to take place at La Salle? What did this operation cause?