We've been to Starved Rock many times over the years (who hasn't who has lived or grew up in Illinois?) but I never knew about the Canal Boat in LaSalle.
We happened to take our towns Park District day bus trip to Starved Rock and this boat trip was included as part of the package.
You board a replica of a historic Canal Boat and, while being pulled by a Mule named Moe, are given a history lesson by the people who work the boat about its origin and how the canal finally came about. The Lady that spoke to us wanted to be called "Mrs Lincoln" (she was very much in character and a fun person to listen to) and, like everyone else who worked there, was dressed in period clothing.
The boat glides silently and effortlessly along behind the mule who walks along on a towpath on the right hand side of the canal, led by another employee. The ride takes about 30-45 minutes. You travel about two miles, go across a Aquaduct, and then after a short 10 minute rest stop for the Mule, he is taken to the stern, hitched up and we are then pulled "backward" to our starting point.
The boat has two levels, the lower completely enclosed. They do allow you to sit up on the top level for a wonderful view of the canal and it surroundings. They can accomodate people in wheelchairs also. The trip is seasonal, with the closing date the end of October.
There is one of the last working locks, located on the I&M Canal, at this site that you can view also.
We took the trip on a Tuesday and because it was a little late in the year, and we were such a big group, we didn't encounter any other tourists.
We never got to see the gift shop.
Smooth and serene, with wonderful picture taking opportunities, I think it was well worth the money spent on keeping a little bit of Illinois history alive for future generations.
PS Please, if you go, don't forget to bring a little "treat" for Moe or his team mate, Larry. A piece of carrot or a Apple will do. He's very gentle and much loved. For a thirty year old Mule he looks "just Marvelous"!
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