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ILLINOIS STATE ARCHIVES


The Illinois and Michigan Canal, 1827–1911

A Selection of Documents from the Illinois State Archives


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DOCUMENT 50
LETTER FROM R.M. COCHRANE TO LEON MCDONALD CONCERNING DUMPING REFUSE ON THE CANAL
February 20, 1911




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Explanation

By the terms of the 1827 U.S. law which granted Illinois certain federal lands for canal purposes, "Said Canal when completed shall be and forever remain a public highway for the use of the Government of the United States, free from any toll, or other charge" (see document 1). A November 9, 1917 Illinois attorney general opinion in part read:

     The State may not fill up the bed of the canal, without the authorization of the Federal Government; nor may the State, without the sanction of the Federal government, permit anyone to fill up the bed of the canal. There is no statute, which is not in force, or which has ever been in force, giving authority to any officer or agency of the State, or to any municipality, to fill or authorize the filling or obstructing of the canal.
     It is the duty of the officers of the State, charged with the control and protection of the canal, to prevent the filling up or obstruction of the canal, and to take steps to stop encroachments upon the bed of the canal, in the same manner and by the same means as the other property of the State is protected.

Points to Consider

What had the Chicago Bureau of Streets done to the canal?
Locate on a map the site of this occurrence.
What do abandoned holes generally attract?
Why had this incident taken place?


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