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Full text of "Geography of the upper Illinois valley and history of development"

ILLINOIS 




/^^ 



BULLETIN NO. 27, PLATE I 




STATE OF ILLINOIS 

STATE GEOLOGICAL SURVEY 

FRANK W. DE WOLF, Director 



BULLETIN No. 27 



GEOGRAPHY 

OF THE 

UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 

AND 

HISTORY OF DEVELOPMENT 

BY 
CARL ORTWIN SAUER 




PRINTED B\' AUTHORITY OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS 



ILLINOIS STATE GEOLOGICAL SURVEY 

UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS 

URBANA 

19!6 



ILLINOIS STATE QI30LOG10AL SURVEY 



BULLETIN NO. 27, PLATE I 





Panoramic view of Illinois Valle^ tiom btmel Eotk 



STATE OF ILLINOIS 

STATE GEOLOGICAL SURVEY 

FRANK W. DE WOLF, Director 



BULLETIN No. 27 



GEOGRAPHY 

OF THE 

UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 

AND 

HISTORY OF DEVELOPMENT 

BY 
CARL ORTWIN SAUER 




PRINTED B\' AUTHORITY' OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS 



ILLINOIS STATE GEOLOGICAL SURVEY 

UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS 

URBANA 

1916 



PANTASRAPH PTa 8, STA.Ca 



i 355^ 



STATE GEOLOGICAL COMMISSION 



Edward F. Dunne, Cliairman 
Governor of Illinois 

Thomas C. Chamberlin, Vice-Cliairman 

Edmund J. James, Secretary 
President of the University of Illinois 



Frank W. DeWolf, Director 

Fred H. Kay, Asst. State Geologist •/ 

R. D. Salisbury, Consulting Geologist, in charge of the preparatiofr^of 

Educational Bulletins 



(3) 



LETTER OF TRANSMITTAL 



University of Illinois, September 1, 1916. 
State Geological Survey, 

Governor E. F. Dunne, Chairman, and Members of the 

Geological Commission, 

Gentlemen : — I submit herewith a report on the Geography of the 
upper Illinois Valley and History of Development, by Carl Ortwin Sauer, 
and recommend that it he published as Bulletin No. 27. The field work 
was done in 1910 under the general supervision of Professor R. D. Salis- 
bury, consulting geologist. At the time the work was done Mr. Sauer was 
a member of the Department of Geology of the University of Chicago. He 
is now Professor of Geography at the University of Michigan. 

The present report is one of a series of educational bulletins which 
have proved very popular with the public. 

The science of geography has advanced rapidly within the past few 
years, and the interest of teachers and laymen is proved by the demand 
for educational bulletins published by the Survey. The present bulletin 
will be of interest primarily to residents of the region, but it contains a 
wealth of geographic material which will be useful to anyone interested in 
nature study. 

Very respectfully, 

Frank W. DeWolf, Director. 



(4) 



CONTENTS 

PAGE 

Chapter I. — Introiluotioii 11 

Purpose of repoit 11 

Acknowledgments 11 

Chapter IT. — Location and topogrjiphy 12 

Location of area 12 

Location as determining climate 14 

Relation to Central Plains 15 

General features of Illinois Valley 16 

Relation to other drainage lines 16 

Drainage basin of Illinois River 17 

Divisions into upper and lower valleys 17 

Gradient 18 

Volume of water 19 

Surface features of upper Illinois Valley 20 

Valley sides 20 

Valley floor 21 

Prairie 22 

Tributary valleys 23 

Relation of topography to operations of man 24 

Concentration of population in Illinois Valley 24 

Influence of the surface on development of transportation lines 24 

Location of towns 25 

Relation of tojiogiaphj' to utilization of land 26 

Effect of topogiaphy on economic conditions 27 

Chapter III. — Description and history of the hard rocks 29 

Classes of sedimentary rocks and their origin 29 

General processes 29 

Mechanical or elastic sedimentary rocks 29 

Organic sedimentary rocks 31 

Limestone 31 

Coal 31 

Special features of rocks 32 

Veins 32 

Concretions 33 

Hard rocks of Illinois A'alley 35 

Unexposed rocks 35 

Exposed rocks 35 

Prairie du Chien limestone 35 

St. Peter sandstone 37 

Platteville-Galena limestone 39 

Richland limestone 41 

Niagaran limestone 42 

Pennsylvanian series 42 

( 5 ) 



Chapter III. — Description and history of the hard rocks — continued PAGE 

Structure of the rocks 46 

General southward dip 46 

La Salle anticline 46 

Minor deformations 48 

History of deposition of hard rocks 49 

Pre-glacial topography and its history 51 

Character of bed-rock surface 51 

History of pre-glacial erosion period 55 

Chapter IV. — Ice age 57 

Eelation of drift cover to bed rock 57 

Materials of drift and their origin 60 

Till 60 

Stratified drift 62 

Loess 64 

Upland clay 66 

Surface of drift 66 

History of an ice sheet 66 

Manner of development 66 

Work of an ice sheet 68 

History of glaciation in upper Illinois Valley 70 

Erosive work of ice 70 

Early ice invasions 71 

Wisconsin glacial deposits 73 

General description 73 

Basis of subdivision of Wisconsin deposits 74 

Bloomington moraine and till sheet 75 

Marseilles moraine and till sheet 76 

Late Wisconsin till sheet, Minooka Ridge, and Valparaiso moraine. ... 78 

Morris basin 79 

Loess 81 

Upland clay 82 

Summary 82 

Advantages of glaciated areas. 82 

Smoothing of the surface 83 

Contribution to soils 83 

Shallow water supplies 86 

Sand, gravel, and clay 86 

Water power ; 87 

Disadvantages of glaciated areas 87 

Imperfect drainage 87 

Poor prairie roads 88 

Slow development of mineral resources 88 

Chapter V. — Glacial drainage history of Illinois Valley 89 

Pre-glacial components 89 

Existence of the upper valley during Wisconsin epoch 89 

Till on valley floor above Ottawa 90 

Glacial grooving on valley floor below Ottawa 91 

Peru beds 94 

Gravels at BuflF alo Eock 95 

Buried channel of the Illinois in Morris basin 96 

(6 ) 



Chapter V. — Glacial drainage history of Illinois Valley — continued 

Existence of the upper valley during Wisconsin epoch — continued page 

Kickapoo beds 97 

Other evidences 98 

Summary 98 

Early Wisconsin period 99 

Filling of valley below Marseilles 99 

Hennepin flat and sediments in valley of Bureau Creek 107 

I'onding of Morris Basin 109 

Late Wisconsin fluvio-glacial deposits 109 

Valley train 109 

Sand ridges 1 10 

History of aggradation Ill 

Tributary filling 112 

Concentration of bowlders 113 

Summary 113 

Outlet Elver 113 

Chapter VI. — Present active physiographic processes 116 

Work of wind 116 

Characteristics of deposits 116 

Making of dunes 116 

Shifting of dust 117 

Work of ground water 117 

Springs and wells 117 

Solution and redeposition 119 

Weathering 121 

Work of streams 123 

Development of valleys 123 

Original post-glacial surface 123 

Growth of gullies 123 

Development of valley tlats 125 

Stages of valley development 126 

Adjustment of tributaries 127 

Special depositional features 129 

Conditions of deposition 129 

Deltas and sand bars 129 

Alluvial fans 129 

Influence of material on topography 130 

Bed rock 130 

Glacial material 134 

Development of falls 136 

Variations in topography of valley 137 

Man as factor in erosion 140 

Eecent changes 140 

Erosion increased by deforestaiion 140 

Erosion increased by over-grazing 141 

Erosion increased by cultivation of slopes 142 

Soils most affected 142 

Proper use of steep slopes 143 

Chapter VII. — Settlement and development of upper Illinois valley 144 

Geographic influences 144 

Indian life 144 

( 7 ) 



Chapter VIT. — Settlement and development of upper Illinois valley — continued page 

French explorations 146 

Westward movement of population 148 

Pioneers from South ". 149 

Control of region by northern settlers 151 

Conditions of pioneer life 153 

Problem of the prairies 153 

Improvement of the homestead 156 

Fare of the jMoneer 158 

Institutions and social life 159 

Health conditions 160 

Transportation 161 

Boom days and their collapse 163 

Illinois and Michigan canal 167 

Construction 167 

Traffic 168 

Services of canal 173 

Decline of canal 178 

Eailroad building 181 

Original projects 181 

Illinois Central Eailroad 181 

Chicago, Eock Island and Pacific Eailroad 183 

Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Eailroad 183 

Other railroads 184 

Periods of construction 185 

Influences of railroads on development 185 

Mining and manufacturing 187 

Coal mining 187 

Manufacturing 189 

Development 189 

Distribution of industries 190 

Eural conditions 193 



(8 ) 



ILLUSTRATIONS 



PI.ATK PAGE 

I. P;iiior;imi(' view of Illinois N'allcv f'-om St;nv('il l^ock Frontispiece 

ir. Geologic map of tli" ii|)ji('r Illinois N'alloy HG 

B^lGURE 

1. General location of Illinois hasin ami ai'cas i!(^scrilioil in oihicatioiial l)nlletins. . 13 

2. Graph showing average inoiithlv temperatures and average montlily rainfall at 

La Salle 14 

3. I'rofile showing gratlients of Illinois River 18 

4. Lovers' Leap looking np Illinois N'alley from Starved Eock 20 

5. Cross-sections of Illinois Valley at Ottawa, Pern, Moiris, and La Salle showing 

relation of cities to physiographic featnres 22 

(5. Honeycombed bed of Fox Eiver at Dayton 32 

7. Views on An Sable Creek 34 

S. Quarry in St. Peter s^andstone near Twin Bluffs 36 

9. Tributary canyon in Deer Park Glen 37 

10. Diagrammatic illustiation of the unconforma])le relation of the Prairie du Chien 

limestone and the St. Peter sandstone 39 

11. Diagrammatic illustration of the unconformable relation of the St. Peter sand- 

stone and tTie Platteville-Galena limestone 40 

12. Exposure of ' ' Coal Measures " ' on Cedar Creek 43 

13. Diagrammatic illustration of the unconformable relation of the St. Peter sand- 

stone and the Penusylvanian series 45 

14. Small syneline in "Coal Measures" along Big A'ermilion Eiver below Lowell. . . 48 

15. Sketch map showing the reconstruction of Eock-Illinois Valley 53 

16. Diagrammatic illustration of the relation of mantle rock to the underlying rock 

from which it was derived 57 

17. Diagranunatic illustration of the indefinite relation of soft bed rock and drift. . 58 

18. Glacial till on Indian Creek 60 

I'.t. Large igneous bowlder on South Kickapoo Creek 61 

20. Sketches illustrating the characteristics of glaciated bowlders 61 

i:l. Gravel bed of coarsely bedded "high level" gravels on Cedar Creek 63 

22. Loess under gravel on Spring Creek 65 

23. Distribution of the various kinds of drift in the upper Illinois Valley 67 

24. Organic deposits buried beneath till on Spring Creek 73 

25. Folded lake clays above sand quarry at Wedron 76 

26. Kankakee-Morris flat as seen from Minooka Eidge 78 

27. Valparaiso moraine as seen from across Desplaincs A'alley 79 

2S. Lacustrine glacial clays at the tile works at Morris 81 

29. Coal bed buckled by glacial ice 90 

30. Exposure of till near bottom of Illinois A'alley above Ottawa 91 

31. Water-worn surface of St. Peter sandstone which has been smoothed and 

grooved l)y the ice 92 

32. Glacially grooved rock surface in Illinois A'alley at site of Federal Plate Glass 

Company west of Ottawa 92 

(9 ) 



FIGURE PAGE 

Z'^. Typical groove in St. Peter sandstone probably made by water, but the present 

form is due to glacial action 93 

M. Eeconstruction of the buried channel of Illinois Kiver in the Morris basin 96 

35. Waterlaid sediments of glacial age along Illinois Valley between Marseilles 

and Seneca 97 

3fi, Gravel pit in "high-level" gravels south of Illinois Eiver opposite Spring 

Valley 100 

37. Surface of valley bluff between Ottawa and Utica 102 

38. Sketch map showing distribution of sands and gravels in valley of Clark 's Run 104 

39. Clay balls in the ' ' high-level ' ' gravels 105 

40. Diagrammatic cross-sketch of a typical beach ridge in Morris basin 110 

41. Eecent fluvio-glaeial gravels east of Channahon 112 

42. Diagrammatic illustrations of conditions favorable to artesian wells 119 

43. Incrustation of mineral salts on surface of "Coal Measures" shales 120 

44. Cemented glacial gravels south of Spring Valley 121 

45. Igneous bowlder containing large crystals that have resisted weathering 122 

4G. Very recent gully in pasture on Kickapoo Creek 123 

47. Cross-section of a young V-shaped valley south of Marseilles 124 

48. Diagrammatic illustration of the formation of an ox-bow lake 126 

49. Stagnant pool gradually being filled with vegetation 127 

50. Sketch map showing the relation of the lowest tributary of Fox River to the 

abandoned channel of Illinois River 128 

51. Sketch map showing the relation of tributaries of the Illinois at Starved Rock 

Park to the abandoned channel of Illinois River 128 

52. Small alluvial fan 130 

53. Lower Falls in Deer Park Glen 131 

54. Characteristic view in sides of the canyons cut in the St. Peter sandstone in 

Deer Park Glen 133 

55. Valley side in glacial till along the Illinois east of Marseilles 134 

50. Diagrammatic cross-section of a ravine south of St. Pedes College 135 

57. Resistant bed of limestone on Cedar Creek between beds of soft shale 136 

58. Diagrammatic illustration of the relation of falls to a hard stratum 137 

59. Diagrammatic cross-sections of different parts of the valley of Clark 's Run .... 139 

60. Destruction of soil on a slope as a result of denudation in Fox Valley 140 

61. Gravel sand spread over field on Cedar Creek 141 

62. Gully formed in silt east of Marseilles 143 

63. Graph showing chief commodities carried on the canal from 1849 to 1858 169 

64. Graph showing tolls collected by Illinois and Michigan canal from 1848 to 1907 . . 171 

65. Graph showing tons transported on Illinois and Michigan canal from 1849 

to 1907 172 

66. Canal boat above Morris, a relic of bygone days 179 

67. Locks at Channahon 180 

68. Map showing the Illinois Central system in Illinois 182 

69. Graph showing grain produced in La Salle, Bureau, and Grundy counties 195 



( 10 ) 



GEOGRAPHY OF UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 

By Carl Ortwin Sauer 



CHAPTER I— INTRODUCTION 

Purpose of Report 

This Inilk'tin has been written for the purpose of giving a non-technical 
account of tlic geology, i)hysiography, and geography of the upper Illinois 
Valley. The region is rather typical of the great Prairie Plains to which 
the major part of Illinois belongs and is of interest therefore to many who 
do not have a first-hand acquaintance with the Middle West. The report 
is intended, however, primarily for those who live in this area, for the 
farmers of the prairie, for those engaged in the industries of Illinois Valley, 
and for the teachers and high-school students of the upper river counties 
who may wish to read the story that is written in the rocks and soils of 
their home. 

ACKNO\VLEDGMENTS 

The field work on which this report is based was done in the summer 
of 1910. Professor R. D. Salisbury and Professor H. H. Barrows furnished 
valuable criticisms and suggestions in the field. Acknowledgment is due to 
Professor R. D. Salisbury for a careful supervision of the entire work and 
for the critical reading of the manuscript. Professor H. H. Barrows also 
revised the last chapter of this bulletin, and made numerous helpful 
suggestions. To the many residents of the region, who freely aided me in 
many Avays, I wish to extend in cordial remembrance my hearty thanks. 



( 11 ) 



CHAPTER II— LOCATION AND TOPOGRAPHY 
Location of Area 

The region with which this report is concerned is the upper Illinois 
Valley, located in north-central Illinois, about four-fifths of the way from 
Ohio River to the Wisconsin State line, and midway between ]\Iississippi 
River and the Indiana State line. Defined in terms of latitude and 
longitude, the area lies between meridians 88°10' and 89°25' and parallels 
41°15' and 41°30'. The eastern limit of the area included in the bulletin 
extends somewhat beyond the head of Illinois River (at 88°15'30" west 
longitude, and 41°23'30" north latitude). Likewise the limit on the west 
overlaps slightly the "Great Bend" of the Illinois (fig. 1). 

The upper Illinois Valley is defined for the purposes of this report 
as that part above the great rectangular bend of the river at Hennepin. 
In this upper course the river flows almost due west, deviating by only 
about 6 degrees to the south of this direction. The northernmost point 
reached by the river is a few miles below its head, at 41°24:' north latitude. 
A straight line drawn thence to the bend shows the maximum deviation 
of the river from a straight course to be at Seneca, and this is a departure 
of less than 5 miles. The east-west direction of the river and the linear 
nature of its valle^^ have played an important part in the economic develop- 
ment of this region. Figure 1 shows the general location of the area and 
its relation to other regions on which similar reports have been issued by 
the State. 

In the area is included the greater part of La Salle and Grundy 
counties, smaller portions of Bureau and Putnam counties, and very minor 
parts of Kendall and Will counties. 

Of the cities and villages, Ottawa is most centrally located and is the 
county seat of La Salle County. The most important cities of the western 
region are La Salle and Peru, a single city in all but corporate limits. 
Farther west is Spring Valley, the largest town in Bureau County. 
Morris, the county seat of Grundy County, is the only important place in 
the eastern part of the region. 

The United States Geological Survey has divided the region into six 
rectangular divisions, known as quadrangles,^ for purposes of uniformity 



^Of each of these quadrangles, a topographic map (i. e. a map showing; features of relief, 
drainage, and culture) has been prepared by the U. S. Geological Survey, on the scale of one 
mile to the inch. These maps represent clearly and simplv the character" of the surface of the 
region. The U. S. Geological Survey distributes them at lo" cents each. 

( 12 ) 



LOCATION AND TOPOGRAPHY 



13 



MILWAllCEE 




Sr LOUIS i 



Fig. 1. — Geucral location of Illinois basin and areas described in educational bulletins. 



14 



UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 



in mapping. Beginning at the east, the quadrangles concerned are: 
Wilmington, Morris, IMarseilles, Ottawa, La Salle, and Hennepin. The 
shaded area in figure 1 shows the portions of these quadrangles which have 
been included in the report. 

The upper Illinois Valley is known to most residents of Illinois because 
of the Starved Rock State Park, and the busy industrial district centering 
about La Salle. It has also a distinguished place in State history because 



/ ^l 70 


y \ ^° 


ii \ '° 


/ \ ^§.. 

4 / \ oj c40 


j^dninflmiuLL 



I I 

I I 



c -^ 



Fig. 2 — Graph showing average monthly temperatures and average monthly rain- 
fall at La Salle. 

of its role in the early settlement of Illinois, and because the once famous 
Illinois and Michigan Canal terminates within it. 

Location as Determining Climate 

The climate of a region is an expression primarily of the various 
elements of its location. The most important of these are position in 
latitude, location Avith reference to large bodies of water and to mountain 
masses, and position with reference to prevailing and storm winds. 
Position in middle latitudes a thousand miles inland, a moderately low 
elevation, the absence of any nearby highlands, and the location in the 



LOCAl'lON AND TOl'OGRAl'HY IS 

track of cyclonic storms that conic from the west are the leadinj? factors 
in detormininji: the character of the climate of the Central Prairies, to 
which the upper Illinois Valley belongs. 

The position in intermediate latitudes expresses itself in fairly long 
winter nights and e([ually long sununei- days, and in a sun nearly overhead 
in summer but shining very obliquely in winter. As a result, the seasons 
are sharply contrasted. The lengthening of the day in the summer months 
is a factor of some importance in accelerating the growth of vegetation. 

Interior location has given a continental climate with great 
temperature ranges, strong and shifting winds, and a moderate rainfall. 
The distinctness between the seasons has thus been emphasized — the 
winters are cold and characterized by high winds ; the summers are hot and 
have rain storms of irregular occurrence. The accompanying graph (fig. 2) 
shows average temperatures and rainfall at La Salle for each month in the 
year. 

On the whole, the advantages of such a climate are great. It is well 
suited to the production of most temperate-zone field products, particularly 
of grains. The frost-free season of more than five months, the long, hot 
summer days, the abundance of moisture during the summer months, and 
the rather sharp low^ering of temperatures during the latter part of the 
fall provide excellent conditions for the growth of Indian corn, the first 
crop of the State. Droughts come occasionally, but do not constitute a 
serious agricultural problem. The health and vitality of the people are 
favored by the invigorating seasonal changes, the purifying strong winds, 
the wealth of sunshine, and the moderately low humidity of the air. 
Climatic extremes are not so great that the activity of man is seriously 
impaired at any time. The energizing influence of the change of seasons 
is also one of the causes of the thrift and prosperity of the people. As in 
all similar latitudes, the need of growing a suf^cient surplus to tide over 
the non-productive wdnter season has stimulated progress. The big barns 
which liberally dot the prairie landscape and dominate the cluster of 
buildings around the farm houses speak not only of a sturdy race of 
farmers and of fertile soils, but as well of the long winters which have 
taught the farmer providence. 

Relation to Central Plains 

Illinois Valley is located almost in the heart of the great Central 
Plains or prairies. Eastward the prairies stretch to the plateaus on the 
western flanks of the Appalachians, Avestward to the high plains that lead 
up to the Rockies. Southward they merge gradually into the low Gulf 
Plain, and at the north the prairie joins the timbered uplands of the 
northern lakes. In all directions the surface features are very similar for 
hundreds of miles. All about, the region is one of moderate elevation 



16 UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 

(below 1,000 feet) ; the relief is slight, and the surface rather monotonous 
The characteristic surface shows a uniformly gentle, billowy outline. 
Transportation lines cross at will, supplying rail facilities wherever there 
is sufficient traffic. The prairie region is belted particularly bj" east-west 
lines of railways that connect the Middle West with the Atlantic and also 
the Pacific seaboard. 

Similarity of conditions extends to more than surface features. The 
conditions of climate which have been traced for La Salle (fig. 2) hold 
with slight variations for the rest of Illinois and for Indiana and Iowa. 
The agricultural products are very similar for all the interior prairie 
States. All are poorly supplied with timber and have, as their only great 
mineral product, coal. 

Because of this uniformity of physical conditions, conditions of life 
have also been similarly uniform throughout the region. The sameness of 
surface, climate, and resources in the Central Plains has meant a rather 
even economic development in all parts. The history of the settlement and 
growth of the upper Illinois basin does not differ in any large measure 
from that of the adjacent districts. Provincialism has never been a 
prominent feature. There is a stereotyped quality in all its history, 
geologic and human, to the present ; in a general survey it is essentially 
the same as that of the surrounding country. It is only in a detailed 
study that uniformity disappears, and that differences are brought to light 
which give a stamp of individuality to the region. 

General Features of Illinois Valley 

relation to other drainage lines 

Centrally located within the prairie region, Illinois River is, next to 
the Ohio, the most important eastern affluent of the Mississippi. It joins 
the Mississippi about midway between the source and mouth of that stream, 
and almost opposite the confluence of the Missouri wdth the Mississippi. 
Not far below the Ohio enters the Mississippi. This position of Illinois 
Valley within the greatest developed river basin of the world is most 
advantageous. It is located centrally to a long line of waterways, which 
stretch from the gates of the Yellowstone to the base of the Appalachians, 
and from St. Paul to the Gulf. The Illinois, however, derives an added 
importance, because of all parts of the Mississippi Basin it is most 
intimately associated with the Great Lakes. The outflow from Lake 
Michigan at times during the Ice Age was directed down Illinois Valley. 
Even now the headwaters of the Illinois crowd the watershed between the 
Mississippi Basin and the Great Lakes hard against Lake Michigan. 
Occasionally the abandoned glacial channel leading from lake to river 
becomes flooded, and water again flows through it to the Illinois. Here 



LOCATION AM) 'rol'or; RATH V 17 

then is ail all but continuous natural \va1(i'\\a\- from Ijakes to CJulf, which 
early attracted the attention of men to its coniplction. 

DKAIXAGE BASIN OF ILLINOIS RIVER 

The dotted line in figure 1 encloses the drainage area of Illinois River. 
This river cutting across the State from northeast to southwest, gathers in 
the drainage from almost half the State, or ahout 25,000 square miles. 
Illinois Kiver proper has its source and mouth within the limits of the 
State, but the Desplaines and the Kankakee, whicli form the Illinois, and 
the Fox River, Avhich is the largest tributaiy entering its upper course, 
have their sources outside the State. The Desplaines rises in Wisconsin, 
and the Kankakee in Indiana ; both streams are marginal to Lake Michigan, 
and their courses are determined by a series of pai-allel morainic ridges 
bordering the lake. 

The size of the drainage basin has been estimated at 32.081 square 
miles,^ supporting in 1910 a population of about one and a half millions. 
Two-thirds of this territory lies south and east of the river, the shorter 
slope of the drainage basin being formed by the watershed between the 
Illinois and the Mississippi rivers. 

DIVISIONS INTO UPPER AND LOWER VALLEY 

Sixty-three miles below its head, the Illinois changes its course from 
westward to southward. The turning point is known as the "Great Bend" 
of Illinois River. Below this point, the valley widens so markedly that 
even to a casual observer the change is striking. In this report the 
upper valley is considered as the part above the "Great Bend." 
In this upper stretch the average and rather uniform width of the valley 
is about one and one-half miles, except in the flat Morris basin, where there 
scarcely can be said to be distinct valley sides. Below the bend, as one 
])asses Depue, the change is striking. The valley sides recede, the flood 
plain becomes two to five miles wide, and within it the river wanders about 
aimlessly. Here and there the floor of the vallej' narrows abruptly and 
re-expands below. In this lower part, the width of the valley is two to 
four times as great as in the upper part. Since valleys normally widen 
gradually downstream, the immediate inference draAvn from the sudden 
change in width at the bend is that the lower valley is of much greater age 
than the upper valley. Other features which distinguish the two parts 
a re : ( 1 ) the general absence of rocky bluffs in the lower valley and the 
prevalence of them in the upper valley; (2) the presence of great gravel 
terraces in the lower valley, and their absence as conspicuous features along 
the upper course; and (3) the gradient. 



^J. W. Hill, in Water Supply and Irrigation Paper 194, p. 315. L. E. Cooley places thp 
estianato at 27,914 miles (Lakes-Gulf Waterway). 



18 



UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 



GRADIENT 



The change in gradient occurs below the rapids at Starved Rock, and 
this place has been used in hydrographic surveys to mark a division of 
the channel into two parts. The gradient of the stream is shown in 
Table 1. 



Table 1.- — Gradient of Illinois Biver for different parts along its course 





Distance 
Miles 

6.3 

6.2 
25.4 

1.5 
14.6 

7.6 

12.9 

47.9 

167.3 


Total fall 


Fall per mile 


From head of Lake Joliet — • 

to Treat 's Island 


Feet 

10.7 

7.5 

8.5 

18.6 

20.2 

1.1 

1.4 

2.0 
23.2 


Feet 
1 70 


to head of Illinois 


1 41 


to Marseilles dam 


34 


to foot Marseilles rapids 


12 40 


to foot Starved Eock rapids 


1 30 


to end of I. and M. Canal 


15 


to end of Hennepin Canal (limit of area 
covered in this report) 


10 


to Peoria 


04 


to Grafton 


14 







Head 







Marseilles / 




PEORIA 


Hennepin ^/^ 
Bend^ , _^StarvpH 


Grafton 

■ 





Rock 



300 277 



Miles 



100 



Fig. 3.- — Profile showing gradient of Illinois Eiver. 



Figure 3 shows the gradient of the Illinois in profile. In the upper 
63 miles of its course (that portion within the limits of the present report) 
the stream has a fall of 49.8 feet. In the lower 215 miles of its course the 
fall is only 25.2 feet. So low is the gradient of the lower course, that in 
the Mississippi at Grafton have been reported floods higher than low-water 
level at Utica, more than 240 miles up the valley.^ The lower valley is 
eminently useful as a waterway, but entirely unsuited to the development 
of power; the upper valley is capable of a very considerable development 
of power, but in its natural condition is unfit for navigation. 



^Collected from Cooley, L. E., Lakes-Gulf Waterway 



LOCATION AND TOPOGRAPHY 



19 



VOLUME OF WATER 

In its unimproved condition the flow of Illinois Kiver was so irregular 
that in former years it became a reeking slough in seasons of drought, and 
in llood-timc disehargcd occasionally a volume of water fort}^ times that of 
its normal flow. Extreme low water has been reported at Morris, as from 
250 to 350 second-feet (cubic feet per second) ; and at La Salle 633 
second-feet have been measured. The bank-full capacity at La Salle is 
about 20,000 second-feet. Periods of extreme drought formerly caused the 
river to dwindle to a mere ribbon of w^ater within its banks. Once or twice 
within a decade a maximum of 60,000 to 67,000 feet is reached, or about 
three times the bank-full capacity of the stream, and about 120 times the 
average minimum.-^ 

The average flow of the stream in its various parts is given in Table 2. 



Table 2. — Average flow of Illinois Jtiver in its various: parts given in second-feet 





Average low water 




Average high water 


Gauge station 


(for three 


Ordinary 


(for three 




driest months) 
444 




wettest months) 


Head of Illinois 


1,577 


8,424 


Mouth of Fox River. 


697 


2,369 


13,180 


Mouth of Vermilion. . 


796 


2,820 


15,066 


Mouth of Illinois .... 


1,904 


6,747 


36,045« 



"Record kept from 1890-1899. Water from drainage canal is not 
Water Supply and Irrigation Paper 194, p. 159. 



included in these figures. 



These great fluctuations of volume are due to: (1) The character of 
the precipitation, which is irregularly distributed through the year and 
varies greatly from year to year. (2) Temperature conditions permit snow 
to accumulate through the winter far beyond the amount of precipitation 
from any single rain. The snow- may melt rapidly in the spring, and the 
run-off, flowing over the still frozen ground, may flood the valleys suddenly. 
The spring "break-up" is directly responsible for many floods. Kankakee 
River, for instance, has a habit of thawdng out before the ice moves at 
Morris, and ice- jams result which flood the lowlands about this city. 
(3) The character of the soil aids floods. The soil is largely clayey and 
quite impervious; hence much water runs off, and little sinks in. 
Observations made on the precipitation show that the greater part of the 
water reaches the streams by rapid run-off and not by gradual seepage. 
With the exception of the ]\Iorris basin, the slopes of the Illinois and the 
sides of the tributaries are steep and aid run-off. (4) In the cultivation 



'Report of Internal Improvement Commission of Illinois, p. 23. In Claypool's record at Morris, 
kept for 56 years, it is shown that during 20 years the river was not out of its banks; in the other 
36 years there were 53 floods; the time out of banks averaged 9 days. The greatest recorded flood 
occurred in 1892; the flood was gauged at Morris as 73,730 feet; at La Salle-Peru as 93,600 feet. 
See also Cooley, L. E., Lakes-Gulf Waterway, pp. 49-51. 



20 



UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 



of the land, much of the timber and most of the original soil cover of 
grasses have been destroyed. Plowed fields with their well-spaced crops 
present no such check to the rapid run-off of water, as did the forest cover 
and the matted turf of the original prairie. 

The floods still come as they did formerly, but periods of low water 
are no longer seen on the Illinois in their former extremes. The Chicago 
Ship and Drainage Canal now constantly discharges water from Lake 
Michigan into the Illinois. In periods of normal or high water this volume 
is not very noticeable ; Imt at low-water stage it makes up a great part 
of the volume of water flowing down the upper valley. The river, which 
formerly at low water became fouled with the sewage of the upper river 
towns and was seriously impaired in the use of its water-power, ''is nov/ 




Fig. 4. — Lovers' Leap, looking up Illinois Valley from Starved Eock. 

a comparatively clear stream to which fish have returned," no longer a 
menace to public health, and much more valuable for power purposes than 
formerly. 

Surface Features op Upper Illinois Valley 



VALLEY SIDES 

Scenic effects for the most part are not diversified nor grandly massed 
in the prairies of Illinois. To this statement the upper Illinois Valley with 
its varied relief presents an agreeable exception. At its head, the ]\Iinooka 
ridge rises northward, whereas to the south and west a broad, low plain 
stretches halfway ai'ound the hoi'izon. This is the Morris-Kankakee plain, 
a basin which includes most of Grundy County. The river here flows upon 
the prairie and has no well-marked banks. At Seneca the river begins to 



LOCATION AND 'I'Oi'OC K A I'lIY 21 

sink beiicalli the pi'airic and valley- walls become well-dcfiiiod. The slopes 
at first ai'e low and trenlle, and are fanned or used for pasturage. 
Downstream, the valley sides steepen and become higher ; pastures and 
fields give way to woods oi- brush-covei-ed sloi)es. At ]\Iai-seilles the valley 
sides arc almost 200 feet high and have become well-defined bluffs. Below 
Ottawa they become sheer walls, with ])arc rock faces, most pronounced 
between Ottawa and the mouths of the two Vermilion rivers. Between 
La Salle and the "Great Bend" the slopes are again gentlei-, and naiTOw. 
discontinuous benches appear upon them here and there. 

In the valley are several large masses of rock which have ])ecome 
detached from the blnlTs by erosion. The most conspicuous of these are 
Buffalo Rock. Starved Kock, and Lovers' Leap (fig. 4) between Ottawa and 
rtica. These are isolated bodies of sandstone, that rise like towering 
fortresses above the valley floor. 

VALLEY FLOOR 

The width of the valley is quite uniformly one and one-half miles, but 
the surface of the valley floor varies much from place to place. A true 
flood plain with broad alluvial bottoms and sloughs has been developed 
only below Utica. 

In the Morris basin is much low land which is often flooded. From 10 
to 20 feet above the flood plain of the Morris region lie the second bottoms, 
which are low extensive terraces. The land marginal to the river about ]Mor- 
ris is not as desirable as the second bottoms and other lands more distant 
from the stream, partly because much of the riverward portion is subject to 
overflow, and partly because much of it is too sandy for the best growth 
of anything but truck crops. Below^ the Morris basin and above the mouths 
of the Vermilion rivers the valley floor consists in the main of a terrace 
about 40 feet above the narrow channel. About Seneca this terrace is level 
and covered wdth a deep soil, well suited to agriculture. Between this 
point and Utica the floor of the valley is in general irregular, and exposes 
at numerous places bare rock surfaces. Here is rarely more than a thin 
veneer of sand or silt above bed rock, and because of the scant soil, most 
of this part of the valley is not cultivated and is commonly used for 
pasturage. Occasionally small alluvial fields of high fertility lie beside 
stony pastures, where the meager soil can scarcely sustain even the 
grasses against the summer heat. Below Utica the typical alluvial river 
bottoms reappear. The soil is deep and fertile, but subject to floods and 
poorly drained, and in its unimproved condition unfit for agriculture in 
many places. Here we find most of the land given over to the wild growth 
of swampy bottoms — sycamores, willows, and reeds. 



22 



UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 



PRAIRIE 

Beyond the bluffs the prairie begins. As viewed from the valley, the 
bluff line lies smooth and straight against the sky except for occasional 
notches made by tributary streams. Viewed from the prairie the valley 
appears merely as a gash in the generally flat surface. In reality the 
bluffs are joined to the upland behind them by a gentle, partially wooded 
slope which rises 20 to 40 feet in a quarter of a mile or less. The prairie 
at its riverward margin is 160 to 200 feet above the river level in most 
places ; away from the valley it rises gently another 50 to 200 feet. Figure 
5 shows a profile across the valley at Ottawa and illustrates the general 
topographic relations for the region. 



640 




530 



Fig. 5.- — Cross-sections of Illinois Valley at Ottawa, Pern, Morris, and La Salle 
showing relation of cities to physiographic features. Numerals represent elevations 
above sea level. 



The prairie of La Salle and Bureau counties is typical of northern 
Illinois. It has a slightly undulating surface, lacking in the ponds and 
swamps of the country farther north, yet almost unfurrowed l)}^ valleys. 
A few broad ridges interrupt the generally smooth surface : ( 1 ) at 
Princeton; (2) the Farm Ridge south of Utica; (3) most prominent of 
all, the Marseilles moraine, part of which is known as the Rutland Hills; 
and (4) the Minooka ridge. These ridges are roughly parallel to one 
another, and are at right angles to the river valley. Because of their gentle 
slopes, they are more conspicuous from a distance than nearby. 

This is part of the best agricultural section of the Middle West — the 
famed region of prairie farms — in which the upper Illinois country equals 
any section of this or adjacent states. Almost every foot of ground is 
cultivated here, and the prospect is one of highly developed farms, because 



LOCATION AND TOrOGRAPHV 23 

of the broad fields, straight roads that run with the eardinal directions, 
and scattered farmhouses with well-appointed farm buildings grouped 
about them. These fill the body of the scene, and against the distant horizon 
may stand a thin line of trees that marks the course of some prairie stream. 
This is the home of the prairie farmer, one of the finest of American types. 

TRIBUTARY VALLEYS 

The character of the drainage of this i-egion is in striking contrast 
with that of southern Illinois or the Wisconsin border. Compared with 
the former the drainage is less ^\e\l developed; there are fewer streams, 
and these are shorter and have fewer tributaries. Northward, drainage 
lines are more poorly developed than in this region ; streams follow 
depressions which they have not made, and undrained areas occupied by 
swamps or ponds become common. 

The local area is fairly well supplied with surface drainage. Below 
La Salle the tributary valleys are very wide for the size of the streams that 
flow through them, and rock outcrops are few. Spring Creek is an example 
of this type. Between La Salle and Ottawa the tributaries are cut in rock, 
and have developed canyons that are striking for their scenic beauty. Both 
the Vermilion river valleys are tortuous chasms in their lower courses and 
show picturesque rapids and overhanging rock walls. It is about the lower 
Vermilion Valley and about Starved Rock that scenic attractions are 
centered especially. Here each turn discloses new scenes of nature's 
beauty — canyons cro^vned by a fringe of cedar and pine with a glimpse 
of blue sky between, bold cliffs of rock that bathe their feet in shining 
pools, and companies of forest trees encamped around a noisj' waterfall. 
The general effect is one of beauty, almost of grandeur, a sight unlooked 
for in its impressiveness in a prairie region. 

At Ottawa, the tributary valleys again grow wider and the slopes less 
steep. Fox River valley, which joins the Illinois at Ottawa, has rather 
gently sloping sides, but almost no flood plain. It is much interrupted by 
rapids and was once made to drive numerous mills. 

The upper tributaries of the Illinois show a great variety of conditions. 
Mazon Creek is in its lower course a widely meandering stream with 
alluvial banks ; its middle course is marked by rapids and rock walls ; and 
the headwaters again are sluggish and shallow^ prairie streams. The 
Au Sable is alternately rapid and sluggish, stretches of fairly rapid flow 
succeeding stagnant pools that are overgrown by water weeds and are the 
home of waterfowl. 



24 UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 

Relation of Topography to Occupations of Man 

The various surface features — the flat upland, the steep-sided valleys, 
the alluvial bottoms — have affected the development of the region by man. 
The surface has either invited or retarded the growth of population, 
according to the possibilities of its cultivation, the accessibility of its 
mineral resources, its transportation facilities, and the character of its 
drainage. 

concentration of population in ILLINOIS VALLEY 

Comprising only a small part of the area under consideration, the 
immediate valley of the Illinois has attracted a greater population than 
has any similar area in this part of the State. Every important city of 
this region lies within the valley. The rural population, however, is less' 
dense in the valley than upon the prairie, because of the low lying and 
ill-drained, or the uneven and infertile bottoms. Towns have sprung up 
in the valley (1) because Illinois River served as the first highroad by 
^Yhich settlers moved into this country, and upon which their early 
commerce was carried; (2) the first transportation line built, the Illinois 
and Michigan Canal, followed Illinois Valley because it is the lowest line 
leading west from Lake Michigan; (3) an early railroad chose the valley of 
the Illinois for its route, partly because a number of settlements had 
become established there, but principally to avoid bridging the numerous 
deep tributary valleys which dissect the upland. The valley still possesses 
transportation facilities which are superior to those of the adjacent prairie 
regions. ' 1> 

Chiefly by these superior advantages of the valley for transportation, 
is the growth of its urban population to be explained. A secondary reason 
is found in the accessibility of its mineral resources. The principal 
exposures of bed rock and its mineral ^vealth are in the valley bluffs. It 
was along the valley that the first development of coal mining took place, 
and it is here that exploitation of mineral resources is most extensive today. 

INFLUENCE OF THE SURFACE ON DEVELOPMENT OF TRANSPORTATION LINES 

The number and direction of transportation lines have been determined 
chiefly by the character of the surface. Within the area under 
consideration Illinois Valley presents the easiest line to follow, and it is at 
the same time the most difficult belt to cross, since it is 150 to 200 feet 
below the general level of the upland and more than a mile in width. It is 
therefore an obstacle to communication between the uplands on opposite 
sides of the Illinois. Roads, both rail and wagon, enter the valley by 
following tributary valleys, thus reducing the grade of their descent. The 
North Western and Burlington railroads enter Illinois Valley by way of 



LOCATION AND TOPOGRAPHY 25 

Spring Ci'ock. nnd tlie Illinois Central and Bni-lin^ion similarly cross by 
way of the two X'orniilion rivers. The waji'on roads that converge at 
Marseilles lead down from pi'aii-ie to river by followin<; various tributary 
valleys about Marseilles. 

On the upland, movement becomes inci'easinfi^ly easier away from Illi- 
nois Valley, since the tributaiy valleys become shallower headward and cease 
to present serious obstructions to transpoi-tation. Upon the level prairie, 
movement is e(iually easy in all directions. The wagon trails of the pioneers 
ran in straight lines from settlement to settlement. One of these led from 
Ottawa diagonally across to Vermilionville ; another struck southeast 
toward Danville, and because of its straightness became knoAvn as the 
"Danville Air-Line." The best known of all of these pioneer roads, the 
"Chicago Road," was worn deep in early days by the trains of ox Avagons 
which sought a market in the distant lake port. This road runs 
northeastward from Ottawa through Dan way. Of these old roads, remnants 
only are left. The surveyor came soon after the settler and laid out roads 
by the compass. The old diagonal roads were abandoned for the most part, 
and the new ones conformed largely to the network of squares laid out 
by the surveyor. Only those diagonal roads which had become most firmly 
estal)lished as short cuts between settlements have been suffered to remain. 

In the valleys the roads could not be laid out on section lines, and here 
they are controlled by the character of the relief. A map of the roads of 
this region gives some idea of the character of its topography — on the 
prairie, a rectangular system of roads : m the valleys, irregular roads 
controlled by the direction of the drainage. 

LOCATION OF TOWNS 

The exact location of villages within the valley of the Illinois Avas 
determined largely by terraces which furnished room enough for settlement, 
gave easy access to both river and prairie, and were out of harm's way 
during floods. Below the mouths of the Vermilion rivers the terraces of 
the Illinois are discontiinious, and small, so that favorable sites are not 
numerous in the western part of the valley. Depue, Peru, and La Salle 
are examples of settlements located on terrace remnants. Between Utica 
and ^Morris the l)road, high terraces furnished abundant room for 
settlements. Li the Morris basin the lowlands are extensive, and the city 
of Morris was located in consequence on a terrace which affords reasonable 
sccui'ity from flood damages (fig. 5.) 

The growth as well as the location of the river towns has been 
influenced by the relations of river floor, terrace, valley side, and upland. 
Marseilles, dependent upon the ra]nds of the Illinois, and located north 
of the river because of canal and rail shipping facilities, had only a narrow 



26 UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 

strip of land north of the river available for its expansion and accordingly 
grew to be two miles long and only two streets wide. Several ravines that 
come into the vallej^ at Marseilles made it possible for roads to ascend to 
the upland, and here the newer part of the city has been built. At La Salle 
and Peru the river has left above its broad alluvial floor a prominent 
terrace remnant about 60 feet above the stream. At La Salle, the terrace is 
broader, and the back slope gentler than at Peru ; and the past greater 
growth of La Salle has been due, in part, to the greater amount of available 
room. Both towns have long since outgrown the limited area of the river 
terrace, overspread the valley slope, and reached the prairie beyond. At 
present, with the expansion of both towns on the upland, the only 
advantage of surface left to La Salle is the gentler slope connecting the 
upper with the lower town. In both cases the broad, low, alluvial bottom 
precluded the growth to the southern side of the valley, as was the case at 
Ottawa, and as may be the case at Marseilles. In La Salle, First and 
Second streets occupy the terrace fiat. Back of Second Street 
is a rise of 70 to 80 feet to Fifth Street. Beyond Fifth Street the city 
lies upon the prairie. A similar condition prevails at Peru. Thus it 
happened that as these cities outgrew their terraces the people living in 
the newer or prairie section found their dependence upon the valley section 
inconvenient. To the older, lower business district there w^as added a 
second business district on the hill which avoided the difficulties of the 
intervening slope. In Peru the upper business section has passed the lower 
in importance, because it serves the majority of the city's population. 
Figure 5 shows cross-sections for the cities of Peru, La Salle, Ottawa, and 
Morris, and represents graphically the conditions of surface which, in 
different ways, have influenced the conditions of growth of these places. 

In building on the slopes of Illinois Valley, artificial terracing has 
been resorted to extensively. The houses front chiefly on roads that 
parallel the strike of the slope. Because the lots above the road have a 
more commanding position than those below, the more expensive residences 
have been built on terraces above the road, and humbler houses on the 
unterraced side below the road. 

Because bared hillsides wash readily, the care of the roads early be- 
came a necessity, and excellent macadamized and paved streets are the rule 
in these river towns. 

RELATION OF TOPOGRAPHY TO UTILIZATION OF LAND 

A great advantage of the Prairie States for agriculture lies in their 
surface, the greater part of which is sufficiently fiat for cultivation, and 
for the use of machinery in the production of crops. In the prairie 
townships of this region, almost every foot of ground may be cultivated. 



LOCATION AND TOPOGRAPHY 27 

Farm Ridf?c and Miller townships in La Salic County, for example, are 
made up almost entirely of cultivated fields. 

Near Illinois Valley, the surface is not so favorable for agriculture. 
Because the river is depressed more than 150 feet below the level of the 
prairie, the riverward margin of the upland has become dissected by 
numerous tributaries. These trilmtary valleys, as well as the Illinois, have 
slopes in genei'al too steej) for cultivation, except in the ]\Iorris basin. On 
both sides of Illinois Valley, therefore, is a belt of timbered land or of 
pasture, vaiying from one-fourth to one-half mile or more in width. 
Correspondingly narrower belts flank the tributaries. Beyond the 
immediate valley slopes, however, the upland is nearly flat, so that cultiva- 
tion on the upland may extend to the margins of the valleys. In the 
region of Starved Rock with its box-like valleys, the prairie fields run in 
many places almost to the brinks of the canyons. 

As the valleys grow shallower headward, the amount of waste land 
decreases, so that the upper third of many valleys consists of cultivated 
fields or of meadows. During the growing season, some of these "draws" 
on the prairie are more readily discovered on the map than in the field, as 
even a stand of tall corn may obscure the shallow depression. The larger 
stream lines may be accurately followed by noting the lines of trees that 
almost invariably follow them. Practically the only timber left in the 
region is in the valleys, and they fill accordingly an important position in 
the agricultural economy of the prairie.^ The larger tributaries furnish 
in some cases limited areas of farming land on the alluvial flats of their 
lower courses, but their chief uses are for pasturage and for timber supply. 

In the valley of the Illinois is considerable low-lying land W'hich is 
either marshy or subject to flood and has not been cultivatea. The most 
of these first (lowest) bottoms lie below Utica and about Morris. The 
quality of the land is excellent, and its only drawback is its lack of drainage. 
It may be expected confidently that its reclamation will take place within 
a brief period and will add an important class of lands to those already 
farmed. 

EFFECT OF TOPOGRAPHY ON EC0N0:MIC AND SOCIAL CONDITIONS 

The character of the surface affects the culture and prosperity of the 
region in many ways, chiefly through the conditions of communication and 
of agriculture. The prairie farmer (1) can put practically his entire 
farm under the plow" and make all his land productive, and (2) has had 
the drudgery of farming reduced to a minimum because he is able to use 
machinery extensively. The hill farmer, on the other hand, (1) can clear 



■•The timbered slopes of the valleys are of course less valuable than the flat surface of the 
prairie. Agriculturally, therefore, those townships are most desirable which lie far enough from 
the river to have a minimum of dissected surface. In Farm Ridge township, the farms were said 
in 1910 to be worth, on an average, $200 per acre, whereas the more "broken" land marginal to 
the valley of the Illinois sold for |125 to $150, and the land which was all in timber for $50 to $75. 



28 



UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 



only part of his land; (2) fields are small and uneven, so that mueh hand 
labor is required in the production of his crops; and (3) the soil is poorer 
than on the prairie and needs more care in cultivation, so that slope wash 
may not remove the rich surface materials. The hill farmer must work 
harder than his neighbor of the prairie for smaller returns. Prosperity 
thus avoids the timbered fringe of the valleys and keeps to the open prairie. 
The uneven surface imposes a handicap upon the hill farmer in the 
marketing of his products as well as in their production; he begins with 
a harder row to hoe, and ends with a harder road to travel to market. 

Socially an equally great advantage lies with the prairie farmer. It 
requires less time for him to do an equal amount of work than it does the 
hill farmer. Consequently he has more leisure than the latter for social 
purposes. His neighbors are also nearer and easier to reach because of 
better roads. As a result the prairie farmer develops by social contact, 
whereas the other too frequently retrogrades in his isolation. The lot of 
the average farmer in this region is excellent both as regards his farm 
labors and his social opportunities. But even in this area, examples can 
be found of this difference in condition, illustrated most strikingly by the 
highly developed prairie farms of Vermilion Township, contrasted with the 
isolated backward farms which are tucked away in the bends of the 
chasm-like Big Vermilion River. 



CHAPTER III— DESCRIPTION AND HISTORY OF THE 
HARD ROCKS 

Clashes of Skdimkntary Rocks and Thkir Origin- 
general PROCESSES 

Bedded roeks or " I'oek ledp^es" may be seen along almost every valley 
ill this region and offer abundant opportunities for studying geologic 
history. Well reeords and mine shafts furnish additional information 
coneerning the materials underground. The local geologic record is of 
particular interest, both because it shov/s a diversity of geologic history 
which cannot be duplicated in the State, and because the life of the people 
of this section is bound up most intimately with its mineral resources. 

The geologic historj^ is such that, with a little help, anyone who will 
may read it in the characteristics of the formations of the bed rock and 
their relations to each other. The simple fundamental idea Is, that these 
Ijedded rocks are deposits of sediment, such as mud or sand, which formed 
a very long time ago, on land or under water became buried by other 
deposits and were slowly hardened into rock. The change of many of these 
roeks from their original condition has not been great, and the origin of 
the formations may still be seen clearly. There is no reason to believe that 
the processes of the geologic past differed greatly from those now in 
operation at the surface of the earth. Streams, waves, and winds were 
then at Avork as at present. It is necessary merely to remember that the 
scene of activity of the various geologic processes has been shifted from 
time to time. AVhere now there are farming lands there once may have 
l)een a shallow sea, and waves shifted about the sand which now appears 
in the sandstone of the valley sides. 

Wind, water, and ice have acted at various times as agents of deposition 
in this region, but of these Avater has been by far the most important in 
the geologic record. The work of water has consisted partly in dissolving 
and redcpositing rock matter, but more largelj^ in the mechanical 
transportation of sand and mud. By depositing these materials in large 
quantities water has been responsible chietly in the formation of clastic 
sediments, the most common class of sedimentary rock. 

:MECiIANICAL OR CLASTIC SEDIMENTARY ROCKS 

Most of the rocks composed of mechanical or clastic sediments were 
formed by shore or stream deposition. The size of the materials which 
water may handle depends upon the vigor of its movement. The upper 

( 29 ) 



30 UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 

part of a stream has, as a rule, the most rapid flow. Here the transporting 
power is generally great, sand and silt are carried easily by the swift 
current, and gravel only is lodged in the stream bed. Even large stones 
at the bottom are subjected to vigorous wear by the incessant pounding of 
rock fragments upon them, and in time may be so reduced in size that 
they may be rolled along by the current. Downstream the velocity gradually 
lessens, and the stream's ability to carry coarse material is decreased 
correspondingly. It is thus forced to drop successively finer and finer 
sediments, first gravel, then sand, and lastly silt. In its lower course it may 
be able to handle only fine sand and mud, alternately depositing and 
removing them as the current varies in strength or amount of load. Some 
of the mud may be carried out to sea and built into deltas. 

Similarly sliore deposits vary according to the strength of the waves 
which formed them. Where the waves break in shallow water, and especially 
where they dash against the shore, gravel and sand may be the most 
abundant materials. With increasing depth of water the waves agitate 
the bottom of the water less and less, and finer sediment is shifted about. 
From the shore outward the sediments commonly grade from gravel along 
the beach, to fine mud in the deep water. 

These sediments have formed three general sorts of sedimentary rock, 
which are based on contrasts of texture. 

1. The mud deposited by ancient streams or seas may have changed 
only slightly and is called clay. If it has been compressed and cemented 
it becomes sliale. Under great pressure, shale may be converted into slate, 
which cleaves into thin sheets like roofing slate. 

2. Sandstone is cemented sand. If the water which circulates through 
the pores in the sand carries dissolved mineral matter and deposits it 
between the grains, the individual grains become cemented and sandstone 
is formed. If silica (the substance of sand itself) forms the cement, a hard 
and durable sandstone or quartzite is the result. A cement of a lime or 
other carbonate, on the other hand, is easily redissolved, and a sandstone 
with such a cement weathers rapidly on exposure. 

3. Conglomerate is the rock equivalent of gravel. It too may vary 
greatly in compactness and in its resistance to weathering, according to 
the kind of gravel from which it was formed and the degree of pressure 
and the kind of cementation to which it has been subjected. The 
distribution of conglomerate is generally much more limited than that of 
the other clastic sediments because gravel is deposited less generally than 
either sand or mud. 

Shales and sandstones abound in this region ; conglomerate on the other 
hand is rare. 



HARD ROCKS 3l 

ORGANIC SEDIMENTARY ROCKS 

In rocks of organic origin, the agency of plants or animals or l)oth is 
essential. 

LIMESTONE 

In the sea water is a vast nnmher of animals, largely shell fish, which 
secrete lime carbonate. When they die their remains, consisting largely of 
lime carbonate, may sink to the bottom and there accumulate in large beds. 
These beds may be hardened into limestone. There arc other ways in which 
limestone is formed, but this is the most common. A pure limestone signifies 
ordinarily a clear sea as the place of its origin. If the limestone is clayey, 
the floor of the sea in Avhich it accunuilatcd was muddied by the inflow of 
streams or by the drag of waves. 

COAL 

That coal is derived from plant remains is evident to anyone who has 
observed the imprints of leaves, the portions of stems, the woody fiber, and 
even the roots common in soft coal. The beginning of the story of coal may 
be read from almost any swamp or bog. A body of quiet water is required, 
into which little or no sand or mud is washed, and which is shallow enough 
for the growth of plants. The seeds and dead leaves and stems drop into 
the Avater Avhich soon acquires preservative qualities that arrest decay. 
By the continued accumulation and partial preservation under water of 
plant matter, peat is formed, the first step in the formation of coal. The 
next step takes place by the burial of the peat beneath sediments. 

But coal is more than compressed vegetable matter, for the vegetable 
tissues have suffered chemical changes. The overlying sediments exert 
pressure and shut off the free access of air and Avater. As a result, chemical 
changes take place which cause the buried vegetation to give off gases that 
are combinations of oxygen, hydrogen, and carbon, the principal 
constituents of organic matter. More oxygen and hydrogen are given off 
than is carbon, so that the percentage of remaining carbon increases with 
time. This concentration of carbon gives coal its high fuel value. ^ Com- 
pression and loss by chemical change are so great in the formation of coal 
that the vegetable groAvth of at least 3,000 to 4,000 years is estimated as 
required to afford material for one foot of coal.^ 

Both coal and limestone are of wide distribution in this region. 



'The process of burning consists in the eonihination of oxygen from the air with the carbon 
of the fuel. 

-Ashley, Geo. H., Economic Geology, vol. 2, p. 47. 



32 



UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 



SPECIAL FEATURES OF ROCKS 

Certain special features may be mentioned which are not peculiar to 
any one kind of local rock and which occur prominently in several 
formations of the region . 



Some of the limestones along the Vermilion River, particularly at 
Oglesby, show irregular bands or veins of white crystals (ealcite) that run 
at various angles to the beds or bedding planes of the rock. These veins 
are generally short, and many of them are not connected. The St. Peter 
sandstone at Dayton affords a striking example of vein fillings : The river 
floor at that place has a peculiarly honeycombed appearance, caused by 




Fig. 6.— Honeyoombed bed of Fox Eiver at Dayton. The kiiife-like ridgos are 
resistant veins in the St. Peter sandstone. 

knife-like ridges in the rock which intersect each other variously (fig. 6). 
These I'idges are caused by veins of hardei- material in the softer sandstone, 
('X])()sed through stream erosion. 

Veins are the filling of cracks in rock. Due to some strain, a rock 
develo])s cracks in which the circulating underground Avater deposits some 
of its dissolved mineral matei-ial. Ordinarily, ground water circulating in 
a limestone foi-mation fills these crevices with calcium carbonate, which 



HARD ROCKS 33 

crystallizes into ealeito ; in sandstone the veins are eoininonly of silica and 
very resistant to weathei'inLT, as shown l)y the siiuill rid^^es in the St. Peter 
sandstone. 

CONCRETIONS 

Concretions are to be seen in widely varying forms in practically 
every formation, from the oldest bed rock, the limestone of the upper 
Prairie du Chien group (Lower Magnesian) at Utica to the post-glacial 
clays found along the Illinois Valley.- Figure 7 shows concretio)is which 
have weathered out in the bed of the Au Sable Creek, immediately above 
the aqueduct. The rock in which they occur is a sandstone containing 
many shining flakes of mica; the concretions consist of a groundmass of 
plates of calcite in which, are set grains of sand and plates of mica. In 
these concretions the materials of the sandstone have been replaced largely 
by calcium carbonate (calcite). They range from a spherical to a flattened, 
disc-shaped form, and occasionally are twin growths. 

Some of the most famous concretions of the country are from ]\Iazon 
Creek. They are flattened, elliptical bodies of a hard iron-bearing shale, 
imbedded in a soft clay shale. The nucleus about ^vhich these concretions 
formed, consists of parts of plants or animals that chanced to be buried in 
the Carboniferous mud. Fern leaves or bits of bark are the most common 
nuclei, but occasionally insects, small fishes, and other material have had 
these concretionary forms cased about them. The perfection of their 
preservation, to the minutest and most delicate detail, is marvelous. The 
shape of the nodules corresponds somewhat to the form of the enclosed 
leaf or animal. 

In chemical composition, concretions are commonly unlike the 
formation in Avhich they are found : The Prairie du Chien limestone carries 
concretions of silica (chert) ; in the St. Peter sandstone, the concretions 
are composed of iron compounds (largely p^'rite or iron oxides) ; 
"ironstones" are most common in the "Coal Measures" clays, and pyritc 
in coal ; the concretions in the Carboniferous sandstones are mostly calcium 
carbonate. 

Concretions are formed after the deposition of the material in Avhich 
they are imbedded, chiefly by the action of ground water, which by selective 
solutioii and deposition of the minor constituents of a formation tends to 
segregate these "impurities." About a convenient nucleus the circulating 
waters deposit a film of some mineral, continuing the process and building 
ever larger concentric layers about the older films, until a concretion is 
developed. This process may go on until the most of a minor mineral of a 
formation is extracted from the main mass, and assembled in these 
concretions. 



45713 



34 



UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 





Fig. 7.— Views on An Sable Creek above the aqueduct of the Illinois and Michigan 
Canal. iTie bed of the eieek is here covered with disc-s^haped and spherical concretions 
originally contained in the soft Carboniferous sandstone and left behind when stream 
erosion removed the sandstone 



hard rocks 55 

Hard Rocks of Illinois Valley 

unexposed rocks 

By erosion and deposition eontinucd through many millions of years 
the earth has bceome mantled f^enerally with sediments of great variety, 
whieh are disposed in rather ordei-ly succession, and record within 
themselves the past history of the region. The oldest formation definitely 
known to exist beneath this region is not exposed at the surface within the 
limits of the State. Its presence is known through deep-well drillings only. 
By this method it has been located in the eastern portion of the upper 
Illinois Valley where the rock formations lie at a higher elevation than 
farther west. Hence the older and deeper-lying formations are more easily 
reached by borings at the east than at the west. This completely buried 
formation is the Potsdam sandstone. It has been located at Ottawa, at a 
depth of about 1,100 feet. The rock is porous and carries a great amount 
of water. It comes to the surface in central Wisconsin and is a prolific 
source of water for many deep wells in the southeastern part of that State, 
as well as in northeastern Illinois. 

EXPOSED ROCKS 

PRAIKIE DU CHIEN GROUP 

The Prairie du Chien group (formerly known as the ''Lower 
Magnesian" limestone) comprises the oldest formation which appears at 
the surface in Illinois. Its largest area of outcrop is in this region, 
distributed in three principal localities (PI. II). The thickness of this 
formation is several hundred feet. 

The most extensive of these is a belt about two and a half miles wide 
between Utica and Split Eock. Its eastern limit coincides with the eastern 
limit of the village of Utica. Westward it rises to the prairie beyond the 
northern bluff of the valley. Southward it crosses the river a short distance 
below the Utica bridge. Along the lower Pecumsaugan Creek it outcrops 
rather extensively on the upland. A few hundred feet east of Split Eock, 
the formation dips beneath the St. Peter sandstone, and disappears under 
the floor of the valley. 

The second outcrop is on Tomahawk Creek, a tributary of the Little 
Vermilion Eiver. This outcrop is intersected by the road Avhich crosses 
the creek half a mile north of Mitchel School. It is confined almost entirely 
to the floor and sides of the valley and is exposed for a distance of slightly 
more than half a mile. A similar outcrop occurs on Little Vermilion River 
northwest of the one mentioned above. These three outcrops form a 
straight line running somewhat west of north to east of south. 

The Prairie du Chien is one of the great limestone formations of the 
Middle West. It is Avell known locallv because of its beds of hvdraulic- 



36 



UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 



cement rock. It is not common limestone (calcium carbonate), but a 
magnesian limestone (calcium magnesium carbonate) called dolomite. 
Dolomites are harder and more resistant to weathering than true limestones. 
A little clay is present very generally in the Prairie du Chien limestone as 
an impurity, and here and there is also some sand. In its upper part 
the formation contains thin beds of quite pure sand, alternating with beds 
of limestone which have little or no sand. In its lower exposed parts sand 
is almost absent, and the formation consists of massive dolomite, either 
clayey or pure. The color of the limestone in fresh exposures is a dull 




Fig. 8. — Quarry in St. Peter sandstone near Twin Bluffs. 

drab. Weathered surfaces have a slightly buff color on account of the iron 
which has been oxidized where the stone has been exposed to the air. The 
presence of iron in any formation is, as a rule, readily betrayed by 
weathering, as iron compounds soon oxidize (rust) and become brownish 
yellow. 

The Prairie du Chien limestone is characterized by a lack of persistent 
qualities. Variations of mineral composition are shown by the very 
irregular surface which the dolomite develops on weathering, due to the 
unequal solubility of its various parts. It is variously thick and thin 
bedded; some beds may be a dozen feet thick, others are mere laminae a 
dozen of which may not exceed a foot in thickness. Where rather pure, 



BULLETIN No. 27, PLATE II 




joMiles 



HOEN&CO BALTrMORE.MD 



Prairie clu Chien group 
(Lower Magneslan formation) 

{MassitT magnesiau limestone carry- 
ing a little clay and sand as impurities; 
in the upper part distinct thin beds 
of sand are present) 



36 



UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 



cement rock. It is not common limestone (calcium carbonate), but a 
magnesian limestone (calcium magnesium carbonate) called dolomite. 
Dolomites are harder and more resistant to weathering than true limestones. 
A little clay is present very generally in the Prairie du Chien limestone as 
an impurity, and here and there is also some sand. In its upper part 
the formation contains thin beds of quite pure sand, alternating with beds 
of limestone which have little or no sand. In its lower exposed parts sand 
is almost absent, and the formation consists of massive dolomite, either 
clayey or pure. The color of the limestone in fresh exposures is a dull 




Fig. 8. — Quarry in St. Peter sandstone near Twin Bluffs. 



drab. Weathered surfaces have a slightly buff color on account of the iron 
which has been oxidized where the stone has been exposed to the air. The 
presence of iron in any formation is, as a rule, readily betrayed by 
weathering, as iron compounds soon oxidize (rust) and become brownish 
yellow. 

The Prairie du Chien limestone is characterized by a lack of persistent 
qualities. Variations of mineral composition are shown by the very 
irregular surface which the dolomite develops on weathei-ing, due to the 
unequal solubility of its various parts. It is variously thick and thin 
bedded ; some beds may be a dozen feet thick, others are mere laminae a 
dozen of which mav not exceed a foot in thickness. Where rather pure. 



BULLETIN No. 37, PLATE II 




LEGEND 



CARBONIFEROUS 



Coal Measui-e 



Platteville-Galena 
(Trenton) formation 

{Ferij hard, thin-beiMcd limestone) 



niation, isiiresenl hi (Itis area) 



{Higiilij pure quartz sandstone cam- 

2>osed of well-ro-imded grains slightly 
cemeuled) 



Prairie du Chlen group 
(Lower Magnesian formation) 
{Mofotiix magnesia)! limestone carry- 
ing a little clay and sand as impurities; 
in the upper part distinct thin beds 
of sand are present) 



GEOLOGIC MAP OF THE UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 

liY CARL 0. SAUER 



HARD ROCKS 



37 



it is finely cryslalliiic in tcxlure, but this quality disappears with an inerease 
of clay. One of its most striking features is its beds of concretionary 
cJiert, Avhich is siliceous nuitter, akin to flint. The formation is highly 
concretionary, and most of the concretions are segregated into rather 
distinct layers. Many of the cherts are 8 to 12 inches in diameter and if 
broken thi-ough, show beautiful banding due to concentric deposition. 




Fig. 9. — Tributary canyon in Deer Park Glen. Ttis small canyon, like the larger 
ones atoiit it, is cut in St. Peter sandstone. It shows the unequal erosion of the sand- 
stone, and in its caldron the light streaks indicate the deposition of soluble salts, chiefly 
magnesium and calcium carbonate, leached from the cement of the sandstone. 



ST. PETER SANDSTONE 

Next in the geological series is the nonfossiliferous St. Peter sandstone, 
which lies above the Prairie du Chien limestone and ranges from 140 to 
200 feet in thickness. Its area of surface exposures Avithin the State is 
almost as snudl as that of the preceding formation, and most of its outcrops 
are disposed marginally about the outcrops of the older formation. In 
this region the Avestern limit is Split Eock, two and a half miles east of 



38 UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 

La Salle, and thence it extends across to a similar point on the south side 
of the valley. South of the river the outcrop does not rise above the bluff 
line. Northward it occurs as the surface formation beneath the upland 
prairie from Little Vermilion River eastward to Clark's Eun. East of 
Utica its surface declines rapidly. In Ottawa it is slightly above the level 
of the canal, and a mile and a half to the east it dips beneath the floor of 
the valley. In the Fox Valley the formation is exposed at the surface, with 
slight interruptions, far beyond the area covered by this report. A small 
isolated outcrop has been exposed in Deer Park Glen. 

The St. Peter sandstone is characterized by a striking uniformity of 
qualities. It is throughout a sandstone of unusual purity. The well- 
rounded sand grains are fine, generally of dazzling whiteness in fresh 
exposures, and almost without admixture of clay, the absence of which 
makes it valuable for the manufacture of glass. Cementation has commonly 
been slight so that the freshly exposed sandstone may be freely worked with 
pick and shovel. Figure 8 shows a characteristic exposure of the 
sandstone with accumulations of loose sand at the base of the pit. The 
cementing material is most commonly silica; but in places a little iron 
oxide, and more rarely calcium-magnesium carbonate, is present. Figure 
9 shows white stains in the caldron at the base of the falls. This is mostly 
silica and calcium magnesium carbonate which has been leached out of the 
cement of the sandstone. Locally there are distinct veins of 
the sandstone, and in veins a little sand is included. The veins 
are of quartz, and where the sand is included in them the vein looks 
something like quartzite. On Lower Buck Creek above Wedron an unusual 
and beautiful form of cementation may be seen. The sand is here cemented 
by iron sulphide (pyrite), and the blue-gray quartz grains set in the 
glinting gold-colored pyrite flash like precious gems. The water which 
comes from the St. Peter sandstone is heavily charged with sulphureted 
hydrogen from the decomposition of the pyrite. A Avell penetrating to 
this sandstone may be recognized almost unmistakably by the sulphurous 
taste of its water. Concretions, although rather common, are inconspicuous. 
They generally contain more iron oxide than the body of the rock, and by 
reason of their superior resistance and darker color, they are conspicuous 
on weathered surfaces as irregular reddish-brown knobs. They may be 
seen on Starved Rock. 

On Tomahawk Creek the contact between the Prairie du Chien 
limestone and the overlying St. Peter sandstone (fig. 10) shows: (1) that 
with uniformly dipping beds the line of contact between the two formations 
varies considerably and irregularly in elevation. (2) On close examination 
of the surface the contact shows an irregular line separating the two 
formations ; at one place this line departs from the dip 9 inches vertically 
within a horizontal distance of two feet. (3) At the contact may be 



HARD ROCKS 



39 



observed in i)laces loose cherts and blue, nonealcai'eous clay, the products of 
lonj? weathci'ing. (4) The two formations are quite distinct at the plane 
of contact ; the Prairie du Chien below is typical dolomite ; the St, Peter 
above as typical a sandstone. There is no sjradation. The phenomena 
mentioned under (1), (2), and (3) record an interruption in the process 
of sedimentation, known as unconformity, and the fourth point is 
consistent with the other three. The general relation is shown by fi<iui'e 10; 
a conformable relation is shown in figui'e 12. In the conforma])le 
relationship, the change from the deposition of one kind of sediment to 




Fig. 10. — Diagrammatic illustration of the unt'Oiiformaljle relations of 
Prairie du Chien ("Lower Magnesian") limestone and the St. Peter sandstone. 



the 



another was gradual, and there was no break in sedimentation. The 
unconformable relationship indicates that after deposition of the older 
formation sedimentation was stopped, the surface was eroded, and the 
products of weathering accumulated before later beds were deposited upon 
the older formation. Similar evidence of an unconformit.y between the 
Prairie du Chien and the St. Peter may be secured in abundance along 
Illinois Valley, particularly in the second ravine east of Split Rock. 



PLATTEVILLE-GALENA LIMESTONE 



The Platteville-Galena limestone (formerly called the "Trenton- 
Galena" limestoiie) is a general name used for the Middle Ordovician 
limestone which includes both the Galena (now correlated exactly with the 
Trenton proper) and the somewhat older Platteville limestone. 



40 UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 

The distribution of this formation, for causes to be noted later, is 
irregular. ]\Iany of the outcrops are too small to be shown on the sketch 
map (PI. II). The three principal districts where this formation outcrops 
in this region are (1) along the line of the Vermilion rivers, notably at 
Deer Park and on the Little Vermilion about Troy Grove; (2) in the 
vicinity of Ottawa, including a broad outcrop on the valley floor west of 
Ottawa, and a narrow area occupying the valley of lower Covel Creek ; and 
(3) an obscurely defined area east of Morris on Au Sable Creek. 

The thickness of the formation is more variable than that of anj^ other 
formation exposed in this region. Over a considerable part of the area 



Platteville-Galena 
imestone 




St. Peter sandstone 



Fig. 11. — Diagrammatic illustration of the unconformable relation between the St. 
Peter sandstone and Platteville-Galena ("Trenton") limestone. 

underlain by formations younger than St. Peter sandstone, it is wanting 
entirely, whereas the two older formations are present everywhere beneath 
the beds of later age. Especially to the west, it is in irregular remnants 
of slight thickness between the St. Peter sandstone and the Pennsylvanian 
series (''Coal Measures"), or else is missing. In most of these patches it 
is not more than 20 to 50 feet thick. Westward and southward it thickens 
considerably and it is also more persistent. At Lowell it has been reported 
about 200 feet thick, at Marseilles it is 56 feet thick, and the Chicago, Rock 
Island, and Pacific Railway well at Morris records a thickness of 200 feet. 

The Platteville in this region is a limestone formation. The color is 
commonly a light drab, which changes to buff on Aveathering. Its texture 
is finely to moderately crystalline. On Au Sable Creek the lower part of 
the formation is gray, crystalline limestone containing large plates of 
calcite and disseminated particles of zinc blende and pyrite, appearing as 
shining metallic spots in exposed faces. Perhaps the most distinctive 
feature of the limestone is its unusual hardness, which has given to it 
unfavorable notoriety, particular!}' among well drillers. As it is of quite 



HARD ROCKS 41 

uiiifdnii coiiiixtsilioii, it weatlicrs \evy ovciily. Tliiii films of clay 
between beds of i)iirer limestone cause it lo wciillier into tliin s]al)-likG 
layei"s, Avhereas in fi-esh cuts it appears massive. 'I'lie formation can-ies 
abundant fossils, but these afe conlined mostly to ceiiain beds. Among 
the fossils the shells of bi-achiojjods and the cylindrical stems of ci-inoids 
arc most abundant. 

The Plattevillc rests unconformably ui)on the St. Peter sandstone. In 
Deer Park Glen, immediately above the falls, a good exposure may be 
seen, which shows the coutact as au irregular wav}- line. Again at the 
Federal Plate Glass Company's plant west of OttaAva and on Covel Creek, 
the unconformity is well shown. In this section the Platteville-Galena lies 
in depressions in the St. Peter sandstone. A cross-section on CJovel Creek 
is represented diagrammatically in figure 11, which shows outcrops of 
St. Peter sandstone rising well above the strip of Platteville-Galena 
limestone which they enclose. The uneven base of the Platteville-Galena 
may also be seen along the bank of the Illinois opposite the mouth of 
Covel Creek. 

RICHMOND LIMESTONE 

The next younger formation of this region, the Richmond limestone, 
is the surface formation in the extreme eastern part of the area. It is 
wanting between Morris and La Salle, but at La Salle, it is again found 
far beneath the younger "Coal Measures." East of Morris, between 
Morris and Au Sable Creek, it is covered by a slight thickness of the ' ' Coal 
Measures." The westernmost outcrop is on Au Sable Creek, almost 
directly above Sand Ridge. Thence outcrops continue up the Au Sable 
far into Kendall County. Southward it outcrops widely on the valley floor 
between the canal and the river and again south of the river. At Goose 
Lake the line of outcrop bends sharply to the cast and thence loops back 
to a point about a mile below the head of the Illinois. The country here 
is flat and outcrops are few and indistinct. 

As exposed within this area, the Richmond limestone consists of the 
eroded remnants of a formation which was later buried by "Coal 
Measures." Its thickness is therefore very irregular and slight, compared 
with its development east of this region. 

The Richmond limestone is the only member of the Cincinnatian series, 
recognized in outcrops in this region. (Cincinnatian is a group name for 
the upper part of the Ordovician system.) The formation is rather uniform 
in its characteristics — massive, coarsely crystalline, and high in iron 
content. When fresh the stone is hard, but it weathers i^ctpidly into thin 
beds and assumes a granular appearance because of its coarse texture. 
This formation is by far the richest in fossils of any in the region ; fossils 
in great number, variety, and range of size, crowed its beds. 



42 UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 

The Richmond beds doubtlessly rests uneonformably on the underlying 
Platteville, though no contact has been seen in the region. It is known, 
however, that several formations of intermediate age are missing, and this 
absence records a break in deposition. 

NIAGARAN LIMESTONE 

The Niagaran limestone does not outcrop in this area, but is prominent 
to the east. West of La Salle the limestone is reported in Avell drillings. 

PENNSYLVANIAN SERIES 

In each of the formations described above, a distribution marginal to 
that of the next older formation is to be noted (PI. IV). As one goes 
toward the vicinity of Utica from either east or west the younger forma- 
tions disappear successively, and older ones come to the surface in their 
places. Ljing over parts of all the formations mentioned heretofore, are 
the Pennsylvanian series of strata belonging to the Carboniferous period. 
This series is commonly termed the ' ' Coal IVIeasures. ' ' 

With the exception of narrow belts restricted almost wholly to valleys, 
the ' ' Coal Measures ' ' underlie the entire area west of Au Sable Creek. 
The relations to the older formation are shown by the cross-section on 
Plate II. East of this region the "Coal Measures" outcrop in a narrow, 
irregular belt in the valley of Dupage River. The northern limit does not 
extend beyond La Salle County, but the formation has a great extent west 
and south. 

The "Coal Measures" of this region were deposited in an extensive, 
shallow basin, the long axis of which stretches southeastward from 
La Salle to the mouth of the Wabash. The beds dip toward this axis except 
where they have been deformed, and toward this axis the formation 
thickens. At Morris (on the rim of the basin) it is only 64 feet thick; in 
La Salle County (near the axis) the maximum thickness is reported at 570 
feet; in Bureau County, west of the axis, the formation varies from 250 
to 400 feet in thickness. The great variations in thickness are the result 
(1) partly of the unequal deposition in a great basin made up of several 
minor basins, so that the original thickness was variable; (2) partly of 
unequal erosion or removal of unequal amounts from different parts of the 
area during the long period of exposure at the surface. 

One of the most striking characteristics of the ' ' Coal Measures ' ' is that 
almost all sediments are repeated again and again in any considerable 
vertical section. Figure 12 show^s the following succession of beds on 
Cedar Creek: (1) shale, (2) coal, (3) shale, (4) limestone, (5) shale, 
(6) coal, (7) shale (overlain by drift.) Not only do vertical sections of 
the "Coal Measures" vary greatly, but most beds vary horizontally Avithin 



HARD ROCKS 



43 



shoi't distances, butli as to thickness and kinds of rock. The basal beds in 
some places are sandstone, and in others clay as at Lowell, where potter's 
clay is found below coal No. 2. Above the ox-bow of Mazon Creek these 
horizontal changes arc well shown: (1) At the ox-bow, at the base of the 




Fig. 12. — Exposure of "Coal Measures" on Cedar Creek. This section shows well 
the variety of strata in the ' ' Coal Measures " : a, shale ; i, coal ; c, shale ; d, limestone ; 
e, shale; /, coal; g, shale; and /;, cover of glacial drift. 

bluff, is a shaly limestone, upon Avhich lies soft, blue clay, and upon this, 
a thin sandy shale. (2) Upstream the blue clay becomes shaly, and the shales 
grade into sandstones. (3) Farther on all give way to sandstone. 
(4) Upstream again this sandstone becomes a sandy shale, and (5) finally 
in the shale thick beds of blue clay appear over thin beds of impure 
limestone. 

Coal beds vary greatly in thickness ■\\'ithin short distances ; above the 
Farm Ridge crossing of Big Vermilion River, may be seen a sandy 



44 UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 

bituniinons shale which stains the water with oil. Southward this bed 
develops into a workable coal seam. From these widespread and 
irregular variations it is judged that the beds were deposited under very 
unstable and variable conditions. 

In spite of these variations, sediments in the "Coal Measures" show 
characteristics Avhich set them off from other formations. The 
Carboniferous sandstones are distinguished from all other sandstones of 
the region by the flakes of shining mica and the small crystals of calcite 
which they carry. The sandstone varies from very shaly phases, as found 
on Mazon Creek, to a freestone used for building purposes, as on lower 
Au Sable Creek. The sandstone is cross-bedded (thin beds at an angle with 
the main bedding planes,) in places so sharply as to appear deformed. 
The best development of the sandstone is along the margins of the 
old basin, particularly about Morris, where it appears that sand was 
accumulating at the same time that clay was being deposited in deeper 
water to the south and west. 

The clays and shales likewise bear a strong resemblance to each other 
throughout the series. At certain horizons they are the most persistent 
members of the series. The texture is in many places marvelously smooth, 
particularly that of the fire clays which are almost without grit, and 
become plastic when wet. Good exposures of thinly cleaving (slaty) 
shales may been seen on the Big Vermilion below Lowell. Other phases 
are represented in various places. Pyrite is found in the fire clays. As a 
result the fire-brick companies prefer to use the clays near the surface, 
from which the pyrite has been removed by oxidation and leaching. 

Concretions are very prominent in the ' ' Coal Measures. ' ' Near the 
mouth of Tomahawk Creek, the creek bottom is covered by large, generally 
flattened, concretions. Most of them are at least three times as long as 
wide, and many reach 6 feet in diameter. The concretions are peculiar in 
that they are crossed by several sets of radial cracks, which break up their 
surfaces into rude geometrical forms (trapezoids). The cracks are fllled 
with colored crystals, composed largely of calcium carbonate, or with shaly 
matter harder than the body of the concretion. These concretions are 
known as scptaria, and were formed by the cracking of the concretions 
subsequent to their formation, and the filling of the cracks with mineral 
matter deposited from solution, forming veins. Scptaria iray be seen at 
Lowell and on some of the eastern affluents of the Fox. The widely 
distributed ironstone concretions, often of fantastic shape, and the fern- 
concretions of Mazon, also belong here. 

Limestones are developed extensively in the upper part of the 
"C^oal Measures" only. They ai'c l)est i'e])rcsentcd west and south of the 
area of older rocks al)out I^tica. The u]>perm()st limestone has been named 
the La Salle limestone, which outci-ops particularly along the two Vermilion 



HARD ROCKS 



45 



I'ivers. J^ailey's l^'iills arc over it, and aloii^- tlu' line of its outcrop ai'C 
located the Portland cement plants of La Salle and Portland. It has an 
upper and a lower phase, is finely crystalline, of a blue-gray color, compact, 
thick bedded, moderately fossiliferous, and in places mottled with vein 
calcite. The limestone contains a varyin<;' amount of clay and a little iron 
oxide. 

Coal is the least of the formations in (luantity. I)u1 its economic value 
is greater than that of all other local mineral I'esourccs. Ot the half dozen 




Fig. 13. — Diagrammatic illustration of the unconformable relation of the St. Peter 
sandstone and the Pennsylvanian ("Coal Measures") series. 



coal beds in a single section, not more than two or three are of economic 
importance. The most valuable coal bed is about 12 feet above the base 
of the series. This is coal No. 2, familiarly known as the "Third Vein" 
coal. The bed averages about three feet in thickness, and furnishes coal 
of unusually good quality. Two thicker beds of poorer coal lie above it. 
The coal varies considerably in hardness and composition. Particularly 
undesirable are concretions of pyrite, Avhich form platy clusters or have 
replaced portions of stalks or of bark. 

The unconformable relations of the "Coal ^Measures" with the 
underlying formations may be estalilished in almost any section that shows 
a contact with one of the older formations. At the crossing of the 



46 UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 

Little Vermilion along the La Salle-Dimmiek toAvn-line road, the relations 
of figure 13 are shown. Here the basal Carboniferous or "Coal Measures" 
sandstone lies on the St. Peter sandstone. The latter was fissured, the 
fissures were filled, and then erosion wore down the sandstone so that the 
vein fillings stood out in relief before the first "Coal Measures" sands 
were deposited upon it. In many places the "Coal Measures" may be 
seen lying in a depression in the older rock, similar to the Platteville noted 
above. The position of the "Coal Measures" upon each and all of the 
formations of the region serves to establish its unconformity with all but 
the youngest underlying formation. Field evidence of a break in the 
history of sedimentation between the Eichmond limestone and ' ' Coal 
Measures" is lacking. It is known however that all the formations of two 
great intervening periods, the Silurian and Devonian, are wanting. 

Within the "Coal ^Measures" are numerous minor and local 
unconformities. These represent only short intervals of erosion in 
limited areas, and are not comparable to the breaks between larger divisions 
of the geologic series. An unconformity of this sort may be seen in the 
eastern part of the city of Marseilles, where "Coal Measures" sandstone 
may be seen overlying "Coal Measures" shale with an erosion contact. 
On Covel Creek, half a mile south of Hitt's, eroded shale is overlain by 
sandstone. 

Structure of the Rocks 

general southw' ard dip 

In most sedimentation, the beds are laid down in layers that are almost 
horizontal. Sediments are deposited normally on gently sloping surfaces, 
either on the floor of a sea or on low-lying land. The beds thus formed 
have a slope which may be too slight to be noted by the eye. The sea 
encroached upon this region from the south, and the sediments on its 
sloping floor had a slight southward dip. This may be shown by the fact 
that to the southward successively younger formations are encountered, 
and that the elevation of the various formations above sea level decreases 
constantly, although slowly, southward. The Potsdam sandstone outcrops 
at the surface several hundred miles to the north of this region ; here it is 
about 600 feet beneath the level of the sea. This obscure depositional dip, 
hoM'cver, is locally masked by deformation which has Avarped every 
formation of the region out of its original position. 

LA SALLE ANTICLINE 

The older beds in the west-central part of the region about Utica have 
been brought to the surface by their upfolding into a great arch, or 
anticline. This anticline crosses Illinois Valley between Utica and the two 



HARD ROOKS 47 

Vermilion i-ivcrs, crosses the Little Veriniliou on Toiuahawk ("reek and 
af?ain Ixlow Dininiick, and is again seen to the noi-thwest at Dixon on Kock 
Kivcr, where it brings the St. Peter sandstone to the surface. Southward 
it passes out of this area at Lowell. The axis of the fold is about N.20°W. 
(in the shaft of Black Hollow mine recorded as N.12° W.) Its general 
course is shown by the outcrops of the inclined La Salle limestone which 
run northwestward fi'om the bluffs of the Illinois at a point half a mile 
west of Split Rock to the Little Vermilion. 

The line of greatest uplift, or the axis of the fold crosses the north 
bluff of the Illinois about at the mouth of the Pccumsaugan canyon, for 
here the Prairie du Chien, the oldest formation, is at its maximum 
elevation. On both sides the beds dip away, more gradually on the east 
than on the west. The western flank of the fold shows dips exceeding 
30 degrees, which carry the Prairie du C'hien limestone beneath the valley 
floor within half a mile of the crest of the fold, where the limestone 
outcrops more than 160 feet above the river. The dip on the western flank is 
so steep that the o'ltcrops of the various formations are tilted nearly on 
end the entire St. Peter sandstone, for instance, having a surface outcrop 
only about 120 yards wide. On the eastern flank of the fold the dip is 
very gentle, not over 5 degrees, and the beds arc in many places apparently 
horizontal. As a result the outcrops are wide; the eastern limit of the 
outcrop of the Prairie du Chien limestone is two miles cast of the crest 
of the fold. The width of outcrop of the St. Peter sandstone on the eastern 
flank of the anticline, with the same thickness as on the west, is about 
11 miles. These comparisons show strikingly the unsymmetrical character 
of the fold (see Plate II). 

In the bowing up of the strata a great many beds of greatly varying 
resistance were involved. The w^eakest beds yielded most readily. On the 
western flank of the fold where the deformation was most severe, the shaly 
beds in the Prairie du Chien formation have been crumpled into sharp 
folds, wdiereas the beds of limestone and sandstone between are tilted, or 
perhaps broken, but not crumpled. Where the more resistant beds w^ere 
broken in the deformation, the clay was forced in around the fragments, 
filling the spaces between and giving the rock a brecciated character. 

The La Salle anticline was not developed all at one time. The folding 
consisted of several movements extending through long periods of time, 
wdiich did not cease finally, until long after the first beds were deformed. 
The Prairie du Chien show^s beds which have been deformed more than 
any later ones. These beds and other rather indefinite data suggest the 
possibility of a first deformation after the deposition of the Prairie du Chien 
limestone. There is positive evidence of deformation between the 
Platteville-Galena epoch and the beginning of the "Coal Measures" period. 
During this interval, the first great bowing up of the strata occurred. At 



48 



UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 



the close of the ''Coal Measures" period, the beds were again deformed. 
These two great periods of deformation tind confirmation in many places 
along the western flank of the fold. In many places the Platteville and 
older formations show dips of 30, 32, and 40 degrees, and directly overlying 
them are the Carboniferous beds having a dip of less than 20 degrees and 
commonly less than 15 degrees. Good exposures of this disparity of dip 
between the "Coal Measures" and the older formations may be seen at 
Split Rock, and on the Big Vermilion just above the mouth of Deer Park 
Glen. 

MINOR DEFORMATIONS 

Upon this large fold, minor folds were developed locally. The most 
notable are listed as follows: (1) Opposite La Salle at the suspension 




Fig. 14. — Small syncline in the ' ' Coal Measures ' 
Lowell. 



along Big Vermilion Eiver below 



bridge on the Little Vermilion a trough, less than twenty feet deep, has 
been formed in the La Salle limestone. (2) Another minor syncline 
(structural trough) on the Big Vermilion is illustrated in figure 14. 
(3) The St. Peter sandstone shows several deformations, notably at Wedron 
on Fox River. On the eastern flank of the anticline, the gentle eastward 
dip carries the St. Peter sandstone beneath the surface a short distance 
above Ottawa (both in the Illinois and Fox valleys). Farther up Fox 
Valley the formation reappears in three prominent outcrops about Dayton, 
about Wedron, and about Sheridan. At Wedron the sandstone rises more 
than 120 feet above the normal elevation of its surface. At this place the 
sandstone is domed up, and dips to the south. A lesser bowing has 
probably exposed the formation in the river bed at Dayton. (4) Sags and 



HARD ROCKS 49 

swells abound in the ''Coal Moasiii-cs, " jiUhoii^li liny ai'o of very sli^lil 
extent, l)()tli vci'tically and liori/oiilally. in the Moiris bpsiii almost every 
crock shows such minor Avarpiiij^s of the beds. ThcN' appeal- thron<?h a 
considerable i)art of the "("oal Measures" series, indicating the fretjuency 
of crustal Avarping in the course of the Carboniferous period. Occasionally 
the beds have been faulted. In shaft No. 3 of the Spring Valley Coal 
( 'ompany a fault has been encountered in which the beds have suffered a 
\ertical displacement of 11 feet. 

These minor defoi'inations are rather more common here than in most 
similar areas. The may be connected causally with the development of 
the larger anticline. 

History of For:\iation of Hard Kocks 

Geologic time has been divided into five principal eras. The history 
of the bedded rocks of this region falls entirely within the third of these, 
the Paleozoic, which includes the oldest sedimentary rocks with abundant 
remains of life. Of the oldest Paleozoic period, the Cambrian, there is no 
surface record here, but the buried Potsdam sandstone indicates that at the 
time of its deposition this region was covered by a shallow sea, which 
shifted sand widely over the area of the present interior plains. 

The second Paleozoic period, the Ordovician, was probably begun by a 
change to a clearer sea, in which marine life was abundant and formed in 
large part the beds of the Prairie du Chien limestone. Occasionally, the 
waters were disturbed by waves which carried in thin deposits of sand 
or mixed silt with the organic remains on the sea floor. The variable 
nature of the beds may point as Avell to rather frequent slight changes in 
the depth of the sea, putting its floor at times within reach of Avave 
drag, and at times of deeper water protecting it from such agitation. The 
early Ordovician sea spread widely over the central states, the nearest land 
being in northern Wisconsin. It is known to have persisted for a very 
considerable time, allowing the deposition of a considerable thickness of 
limestone on the floor of a slowly sinking sea bottom. 

Later the sea withdrew from the region, and the newly formed land 
was exposed to weathering and erosion by streams. The land surface 
became gullied and generally uneven. This erosion interval is expressed 
by the unconformable contact between the Prairie du Chien and the 
St. Peter formations. Observations made in other regions indicate that 
the withdrawal of the sea was widespread and affected an area much 
greater than northern Illinois, 

The third scene in Ordovician history was introduced by another 
depression of the land. It is possible that the sea encroached again over 
the region, but if so the water was somewhat less extensive and shallower 
than before, for in it sands only were laid down. These later hardened 



so UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 

into the St. Peter sandstone. It is possible that from some rather nearby 
land area, probably northern Wisconsin, rivers may have brought down 
great masses of sand to the sea coast, there to be shifted about by the wind 
and the waves. The conditions during the deposition of the St. Peter sand- 
stone were wonderfully uniform, as the sandstone shows almost no variation 
from top to bottom. This may be explained by a slowly and uniformly 
sinking land surface, by which the conditions for the deposition of sand 
were maintained constantly. This period of depression was of relatively 
short duration; the deposition of 200 feet of sandstone required probably 
but a fraction of the time which was needed for the formation of the 
Prairie du Chien limestone. 

Again the land was elevated and the surface of the St. Peter formation 
eroded. This erosion interval is not established over as wide an area as 
the preceding one. 

The Platteville sea which folloAved was perhaps more extensive than 
any since the Potsdam. The limestone is very uniform in character, and 
indicates deposition iri water sufficiently deep to prevent the w^ashing in 
of mud. Later the sea became more shallow, and mud was again swept in 
to form, after a time, the Cineinnatian shales. Another deepening of the 
sea brought with it abundant shell-bearing life, which accumulated in the 
beds of the Eichmond limestone. 

After the deposition of the Richmond limestone, the sea withdrew 
again, and throughout the middle west a long interval of erosion followed, 
terminated by the invasion of the Niagaran sea, in which accumulated 
one of the most notable limestone formations of the interior. Another 
oscillation caused the region to emerge from the sea and brought it into 
a position to be eroded. After this time submergence of the land is not 
known to have taken place until the Pennsylvanian ("Coal Measures") 
period. If there was submergence in the meantime, as in the Devonian or 
Mississippian periods, that fact is not known. If formations of these 
periods were ever deposited here, they were completely removed by erosion 
before the period of the "Coal Measures." 

The first great recorded growth of the La Salle anticline occurred 
after the deposition of the Platteville and before the formation of the 
"Coal Measures," as shown by the contrasted dips of these formations. 
Deformation may have begun in the Middle Ordovician period, even during 
the Platteville epoch. The bowing up of the anticline was doubtlessly veiy 
slow. The arching may have elevated the older beds above sea level, and 
exposed them to erosion, at the same time that sediments were accumulating 
around the deformed area. This would account for the absence in the 
anticline of beds intermediate between the Platteville- Galena formation 
and the "Coal Measures." 



HARD ROCKS Si 

111 the "foal Measures" period sediments were again deposited over 
all the area. Deposition may have been due in part to the gradual wearing 
down of the land surface by stream erosion, which reduced it to a low, 
marshy condition, with sluggish streams; but the region was also at times 
beneath the sea. In contrast to the previous uniformity over large areas 
there were in the "Coal Measures" stage many small and variable basins 
in which deposition took place. IMuddy water, clear water, and exposed 
land surfaces were within short distances of one another, and deposits of 
mud, sand, and limy material took place contempoi-aneously, while adjacent 
areas perhaps received no deposits at all. The greatest uniformity is found 
in the limestone iH('iiil)ers of the series, formed during epochs of depression 
while the sea level stood safely above the entire surface of the region. The 
gi-eatest variety of conditions Avas recorded while the region lay about at 
the sea level, and very slight oscillations furnished the conditions for 
erosion, or for the deposition of coal, shale, sandstone, and sometimes of 
limestone. 

At the beginning of the "Coal Measures" period, beach conditions 
prevailed, under which much sand was shifted about. Marshes formed at 
the edges of the sea, and in them accumulated vegetable material which 
later formed coal. Oscillations of the sea level Avere very numerous, but a 
general tendency toward greater submergence became marked as the 
period progressed. Slightly submerged marshes gave Avay more and more 
to deeper waters, and these in turn to the open sea in which the formation 
of sand and shale was succeeded by that of limestone. The upper horizons 
of the "Coal Measures" are largely limestone, and indicate marine 
conditions for rather a long time toward the close of the period. Most of 
the Pcnnsylvanian limestone is in the upper horizons of the series, and 
most of the coal is in the lower. Shales are most pronounced in the upper 
part of the series. 

After the close of the period, deformation affected the central area 
again. Along practically the same axis as before, the beds Avere again 
folded, but not so severely as in post-Platteville-Galena time. Perhaps this 
folding Avas a minor expression of the great movements that Avere then 
taking place in many parts of the earth, as in the Appalachian region, and 
Avhich brought the Paleozoic Avith its ancient forms of life to a close. With 
this uplift the history of marine deposition in this region closes. The great 
interior sea withdreAv permanently, and the later history deals Avith 
processes that shape land surfaces and not Avith the beat of ocean Avaves. 

Pre-Glacial Topography and Its History 
character of bed-rock surface 
Outcrops of bed rock are Avidely distributed, but occupy only a A-ery 
small part of the surface of the region. In most of the area the bed rock 



52 UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 

is concealed by a thick cover of clay, sand, and gravel, of very unequal 
and irregular thickness. The present surface of the land shows only a 
slight similarity to the surface of the bed rock. A reconstruction of the 
buried bed-rock surface could be attempted only after an exhaustive study 
of the region, particularly after a close notation of elevations of outcrop, 
and an elaborate cataloguing of well records to show the distance of bed 
rock beneath the surface. The material for such a reconstruction is not 
now at hand, so that only certain large features can be stated definitely, 
and suggestions given which point to other conditions. 

On the whole, the surface of the bed rock is much more irregular than 
the present land surface, the thick drift cover hiding entirely in several 
places, ridges and depressions in the bed rock, having a vertical extent of 
several hundred feet. If these depressions and elevations could be traced 
in their entirety, they would be found to form buried valleys and ridges. 
Were the drift cover stripped from the region, the place of the present flat 
prairies would be taken by a region of rather sharp valleys and narrow, 
ridged uplands. These valleys were more numerous and deeper than 
those of the streams which now drain the region. 

The major buried depressions known are as follows : 

1. In the western part of the region the surface of the bed rock 
declines into a great linear depression which runs southward from Rock 
River to Princeton, and thence follows the line of the Illinois. The present 
surface of the land lies quite generally well above 600 feet above sea level. 
At Spring Valley the surface of the bed rock is about at 600 feet. North 
of Marquette it declines to 500 feet. Bed rock has not been found at an 
elevation greater than 400 feet at Depue or in Hennepin Township, 
Putnam County. Four miles farther west, at Bureau Junction, the rock 
surface is only 340 feet above sea level. West of Princeton the rock 
surface again rises rather sharply. 

These records furnish a section across a buried valley, parts of which 
are covered by at least 350 feet of loose materials, and of which the present 
surface of the land shows no trace. Leverett- has reconstructed this old 
valley southward from Rock River to its junction with the present line 
of the Illinois at the ''Great Bend." Where it joins the valley of the 
Illinois its floor is a hundred feet beneath the present channel. It has 
been suggested by Leverett that this buried valley may be in part the 
pre-glacial valley of Mississippi River. Certain it is that here was a 
pre-glacial valley, greater than the present Illinois Valley, both in depth 
and width, and it probably held a stream larger than the Illinois of today. 
Figure 15 is an attempted I'cconstruction of the old drainage system. Well 
records indicate several affluents to this buried valle.y above Hennepin. 

'Leverett, Frank, U. S. Geological Survey Mon. 38, Chap. 12, PI. XII. 



HARD ROCKS 



53 



One of these i)roba])ly has been occupied I)}' llie Illinois below La Salle. 
That part of Illinois Valley with an alluvial floor below La Salle is 
considerably older than the rock-floored valley above. Very clear indications 
of this older valley are given above the bend. At Allforks (.'reek and at 
Marquette, the old valley bottom is at the very least 50 feet below the 
present channel. Another tributary appears to have come in from the 
northeast through Hollowayville and Ladd. 

2. From La Salle to Marseilles and beyond, the elevation of the 
bed-rock surface is rather uniformlv at about 600 feet above sea level. 




Fig. lo. — Eeconstruetion of the Eock-Illinois Valley. The dashed line is the course 
of the present Eock Elver (after Leverett). 



Buried depressions have been observed in but few places, and these record 
small steep-sided valleys cut in the general pre-glacial upland which 
occupied central La Salle County. On Buck and Indian creeks above 
AVedron, such old valleys are exposed in cross-section along the sides of 
the creeks. North of Marseilles, however, particularly through central Miller 
Township, well drillers have encountered repeatedly a large depression 
which appears to follow a northeast-southwest line, and which in at least 
one ease reported descends to about 47.") feet alxne tide. 

3. South of Illinois Valley, another large buried drainage line can 
be traced for a distance of about 10 miles. This line has been followed from 
the Farm Ridge crossing on the Big Vermilion River, eastward to Grand 



54 UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 

Ridge. Beyond, a number of wells in Grand Rapids and Brookfield 
townships record apparently a continuation of this valley to Illinois Valley 
above Seneca. In a series of wells west of Grand Ridge, the bed-rock 
surface falls to at least 430 feet above sea level, and a drilling near 
Vermilion River passed through sand and gravel to a depth of 70 feet 
below the level of that stream.^ For more than two miles along the 
Vermilion south of Lowell, no rock is exposed either on the floor or sides 
of the valley. About three-fourths of a mile above the Farm Ridge 
crossing the surface materials may be seen resting against a sloping surface 
of rock, which marks one valley side of the buried river course. This valley, 
of which this fragmentary record was discovered, appears to have been 
comparable to the present Illinois both in depth and width. 

4. Above JMarscilles the elevation at which bed rock is found decreases 
rapidly. At Marseilles it is still 600 feet, or almost 150 feet above the 
river, but south of Seneca it drops below the level of the river. North of 
the river the surface of the bed rock does not descend beneath the valley 
floor except for a short distance in Erienna Township. In all the region 
east of Seneca, bedded rock is inconspicuous, and in numerous places its 
surface is at a considerable distance beneath the Morris Basin, which 
appears to be another In-oad. low-lying, pre-giacial valley. 

The general character of the bed-rock surface is that of a broad, 
elevated central region from Spring Valley to Seneca, flanked on each 
side by an extensive depression — on the west by the old valley at Princeton, 
on the east by the low Morris Basin. In the central elevated section the 
maximum elevation of bed rock is quite uniformly in the neighborhood of 
600 feet above sea level. The surface is here and there depressed beneath 
this level, but a line extending across the summit elevations would coincide 
almost exactly with the 600-foot contour. The even surface of the bed 
rock is expressed by the level-topped valley bluffs which have but a slight 
covering of drift. In the frontispiece, the panoramic view from Starved 
Rock shows plainly the even sky line of the opposite side of the valley, 
which is rock almost to the top. This view reaches from La Salle to Buffalo 
Rock and shows the level surface stretching uninterruptedly across the 
whole anticline and including some of the horizontally bedded rocks on 
each side. This plane surface cuts straight across a great variety of forma- 
tions very unequally resistant to erosion, which range from the hard 
Prairie du Chien limestone about Utica, to the readily eroded Carboniferous 
clays and shales of Ottawa, and the intermediate St. Peter sandstone. 
Similarly, away from the valley, wells within this central zone commonly 
penetrate bed rock at an elevation of about 600 feet. Such a plane rock 
surface developed ui)()n rocks of unequal hardness, is called a peneplain. 



■•Information by Mr. Williams of Grand Ridge. 



HARD HOCKS 55 

IIISTOKY OF PRK-CLACIAL KROSIOX PKHIOD 

Between the deposition of the >()iiii«icsl lueiiiber of the "Coal 
Measures" and the formation of the drift which eovers the l)ed rock, many 
gcolofjjic pei'iods passed involving ^reat ehan<>'es in the history of the earth 
through many millions of years. The youngest bed-rock formation of the 
region belongs to the ancient history of the earth ; the drift cover to modern 
geologic time. The character of the eroded surface of the bed rock is 
almost the only local record of Avhat transpired in the time that intervened. 

While in many other regions great deposits accumulated in the 
intervening periods, in most of the eastern half of the North American 
continent, geologic activity was confined to the wearing down of the land 
by weathering and stream erosion. During this great interval, erosion 
was the dominant geologic process within this area, as deposition had been 
pi-eviously. Of the varying fortunes of the region during this long time, 
proljably only the last chapters have been preserved in the character of the 
eroded surface. This shows particularly two distinctive features: (1) the 
central, elevated plain, and (2) a Avell-drained region, considerably 
dissected, with several broad, low valleys. 

The development of a peneplain is a late stage in the long process of 
erosion. The surface run-off erodes most readily where the material is 
least resistant and soon develops valleys on the weaker rock. The more 
resistant rocks thus gradually come to stand out as ridges above the more 
rapidly eroded softer materials. This differential rate of erosion causes a 
constantly increasing difference in elevation between the ridges of harder 
rock and the valleys of weaker rock, until the valleys have been brought 
as low as running water can erode. When the gradient of the main streams 
has become too slight for further erosion, slope wash and minor streams 
flowing down the slopes of the harder ridges still continue actively to 
remove material. By the wearing dow^n of the harder ridges, while the 
depressions remain at a constant elevation, relief gradually is lessened; the 
valleys wait, as it w^ere, for the ridges to be brought down to the level 
which they long since reached. Finally, when the whole region is brought 
as low as running water can erode its surface, the ridges disappear and a 
generally flat surface is the result. A flat surface produced in this way is a 
base level. When the surface has been reduced nearly to flatness it is a 
peneplain. Peneplanation is the only satisfactory explanation for the 
formation of an extensive flat surface across a region of folded rocks so 
unequal in hardness as in the La Salle anticline. How^ often the processes 
of erosion leveled the land to a monotonous plain, and how often the dying 
streams were quickened into new activity by uplift of the land, we have 
no means of knoAving. One such cycle of erosion is, however, preserved 
in the flat summits of the central area. 



56 UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 

Peneplanation Avas followed by an uplift and a reestablishment of 
vigorous drainage. Valleys were cut into the general flat, and again some 
of the larger streams loAvered their floors to base level, and formed broad 
flood plains as indicated by the broad valley at Princeton. Central and 
eastern La Salle County were dissected by smaller streams which had not 
destroyed the older flat surface. The relief, therefore, was greater then 
than now. At this point the erosion history was interrupted by the 
mantling of the old surface by glacial drift. 

Although the general history of the interval is concerned with 
degradational processes, the conditions were afforded locally for 
occasional sedimentation, as in river flood plains. Lying upon the 
bed rock and apparently older than the drift are occasional thin beds of 
gravel. These are known particularly in the western region, and are shown 
in sections on lower Spring Creek, and on lower Negro Creek. The gravels 
are of local materials, mostly cherts and quartz, considerably weathered. 
Similar old stream gravels of probable pre-glacial age may be seen on the 
east side of Fox River, in the sand pits just above Wedron. 

These few fragments comprise the local record of a period of time 
comparable to that involved in the deposition of all the rocks of this 
region. 



CHAPTER IV— ICE AGE 

Relation of Drift Cover to Bed Rock 

In the "weathering of solid rock there is formed gradually a mantle of 
rock waste on its surface (fig. 16). Such a rock cover has the following 
characteristics: (1) It grades downward from soil through subsoil into 
partially dccomi)osed rock, and finally into firm bed rock. (2) Since it is 
merely the weathered outer portion of the bed rock, its surface conforms 
in outline rather closely to the surface of the bed rock. (3) Its thickness 
depends largely on the slope of the surface, being thickest on flats and 
thinnest on sleep slopes. Slope wash keeps pace with or exceeds rock decay 




Fig. 16. — Diagrammatic illustration of the relation of mantle rock to the under- 
lying rock from which it was derived (courtesy of U. S. Geological Survey). 

on many slopes, so that on hillsides the rock cover is kept at a slight 
thickness. (4) Since the soil is residual from the decay of the underlying 
rock, its chemical composition is limited to the range of mineral elements 
found in the bed rock, and of these it contains for the most part only the 
relatively insoluble constituents. These characteristics are common to the 
greater part of the surface of the earth. The upland soils of the region 
south of Ohio River are of this nature, as are those of southwestern Wis- 
consin and part of northwestern Illinois. 

The rock cover in this region differs from that noted above in several 
particulars : 

1. Contact hetiveen drift and hed rock is commonly clearly defined. 
Figure 16 shows contact by weathering; figures 29 and 30 show two types 
of contact of the local mantle (drift) with fresh bed rock. Figure 29 
shows a clear-cut contact between drift and a coal l^ed. Figure 30 shows 
till (material worn and deposited by glacial ice) at the top of the section, 
and below is shown till mixed with fire clay and shale. Still farther down 
the material becomes a mass of disrupted fragments of '"'Coal ^Measures" 
with occasional masses of drift. At the base of the section the fire clay of 
the "Coal Measures" may be seen in position passing from the uppei- 
crumpled beds to the lower undisturbed horizontal beds. This second type 
of contact, however, is evidently not a gradation due to weathering, but is 
the result of the forcible mixing of the different materials. 

( 57 ) 



58 



UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 



On the whole the sharpest contacts between drift and bed rock are found 
where the drift overlies a resistant formation, such as one of the various 
limestones of the region. This is well shown along the Big and Little Ver- 
milion rivers (La Salle and Platteville-Galena limestones), and on An Sable 
Creek (Platteville-Galena and Richmond limestones). These harder rocks 
show planed, smooth, and striated surfaces in many places. On the other 
hand, shales and clays rarely have a definite contact with the drift. 
Figure 17 shows a relation of the latter sort from the pit of the Utica Fire 




Fig. 17. — Diagrammatic illustration of the indefinite relations of soft bed roek and 
drift as seen in the pit of the Utica Fire Brick Company near Utica. 



Brick Company, half a mile south of the river at Utica. The top of the 
coal bed is very much crumpled; above it are several inches of residual 
material; and above this is fire clay mixed with till and grading upward 
into till. Clay pits between La Salle and Peru on Sixth Street show 
similar relations between drift and blue clay shales. The nature of the 
contact varies therefore with the hardness and texture of the bed rock, 
being sharp wdiere the material is resistant, and indistinct where it is soft. 
The contact also depends upon the character of the surface of the bed rock. 
AVhere the rock forms an elevation, the contact is commonly definite, and 
in the rock depressions considerable weathered material may lie left beneath 
the drift. 

2. llie surface of the drift does not correspond in most places to the 
surface of the bed rock. Although the surface of the bed rock falls off 
sharply west of Spring Valley, the land rises in this direction. Most of the 
pre-glacial valleys in the rock (see Chap. Ill) are buried so effectively as 



ICE AGE 59 

not to leave the slightest surface evidence of their existence. The topography 
of the upland is entirely the topography of the drift, except along Illinois 
River, where most of the drift has been removed, and to some extent along 
Farm Eidge, which appears to be a moraine (ridge of drift) emphasized 
by an unusual elevation of bed rock. 

3. The thicknefsti of ilic drift varies greatly, being thicker in the 
pre-glacial valleys and thinner above the pre-glacial ridges of rock. The 
average thickness of the drift is much greater than is common for a 
residual soil, being well over 50 feet on an average for this region. The 
thinnest drift is immediately adjacent to Illinois Valley, particularly in 
tlie ]\rorris basin. The greatest accumulations of drift known in the region 
arc (1) in the old valley at Princeton, where it reaches a thickness of at 
least 350 feet, (2) north of Marseilles in Miller Township (250 feet), and 
(3) east of Grand Ridge. 

4. The composition of the drift is not limited to the materials of the 
underlying rock. The drift in one part of the area does not vary markedly 
from the drift in any other part, although it overlies different formations 
in different places. Limestone is the most important stony constituent of 
the drift, whether the drift covers a limestone formation, or rests upon 
shale or sandstone. In any single section of drift are found not only 
fragments of almost all kinds of sedimentary rock, but many kinds of rock 
entirely foreign to this region. They include crystalline rocks, igneous 
and metamorphic, whose nearest possible source was the Lake Superior 
region. Averages from the eastern part of the region give fully 50 
per cent of the smaller stony material (about 1 inch in diameter) as 
limestone, about 25 per cent shale, 5 per cent chert, 5 per cent sandstone, 
and the remainder igneous rock. Dark-colored crj^stalline rocks (basic 
igneous rocks chiefly dark schists, trap rock, and gabbros) outnumber the 
light crystalline rocks of acid composition, such as granite, by a ratio of at 
least three to one. Among the larger bowlders, the percentage of igneous 
rock increases materially. Occasionally a glittering bit of hematite tells 
of its source in the iron country of Lake Superior. 

5. Tlie drift is made up of frcsli, not weathered, rock materials. 
These characteristics of the drift indicate (1) that the agent which 
deposited it stripped the loose weathered material from the surface of 
the bed rock. (2) Some of the bed rock it smoothed or scratched. (3) In 
places it mixed the drift with the bed rock. This agent also was 
competent (4) to deposit great thicknesses of drift over wide areas, 
independently of the character of the underlying surface. (5) The agent 
which formed the drift collected rocks of many kinds without discrimination 
as to size, (6) ground them to various sizes and shapes, and (7) transported 
them great distances. Glacier ice can do these things, and is the only 
agent which can. 



60 



UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 



Materials of Drift and Their Origin 

TILL 

The till, bowlder clay or "hard pan" as it is commonly called in this 
region, forms by far the largest part of the drift. Outside Illinois Valley, 
it probably makes up more than nine-tenths of the mass of the drift. 

Several characteristics of the till show that it was formed and 
deposited directly by glacial ice: 

1. Most striking is the absolute lack of assort jnent of its materials. 
A typical section of till shows clay, sand, gravel, and bowlders of all sizes 
mixed together indiscriminately. The main body of the till consists 
generally of clay (fig. 18). 




Fig. 18.- — Glacial till along Indian Creek. The section here is about 60 feet, 
dark streak slightly below the top of the section is a bed of silt. 



The 



2. Another characteristic is the large size of some of the material 
found in the till. Most of it is fine enough to have been carried by 
vigorously flowing water; but bowdders larger than a man's head are 
exceedingly common. They are strewn over valley bottoms, left by streams 
which in excavating their valleys have carried away the fine material of the 
till but left the large rocks. Here and there fence rows are piled high with 
rocks taken from adjacent fields. Bowlders weighing several tons are not 
uncommon, and a few of those in the region weigh ten to fifteen tons. Most 
of these are of distant origin, consisting of blocks of resistant igneous rock. 



ICE AGE 



(A 



Figure 19 shows one on South Kickapoo Ci'cek, wcigliiii^ about ten tons. 
The carrying of 10-ton bowlders for five hundred miles or more, as in the 
ease of the one mentioned, demands a transjjoi'tiiig a^ciit foi- wliich present 
conditions offer no parallel in this region. 




Fig. 19. — Large igneous bowlder on South Kiekapoo Creek. Compare the size with 
that of the hammer on top of the bowlder. 





Fig. 20. — Sketches illustrating the characteristics of glaciated bowlders. 



3. Shapes of the hoidders. Many of the stones of the drift have 
distinctive shapes, especially flattened sides or faces, which meet at vary- 



62 UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 

ing angles and give to the bowlders a subangiilar form (fig. 20). A well- 
glaciated bowlder has neither the rounded outline of a water-worn stone, 
nor the irregular surface and jagged edges of a newly broken fragment 
of rock. The flat faces have no particular relation to each other, unless 
the rock has a tendency to break along certain planes. In such cases the 
rock has been flattened along its planes of cleavage. In addition to planed 
faces, glaciated stones commonly show linear scratches known as striae. 
Many stones have been well polished on their smooth faces. The degree 
to which these features are developed depends largely on the hardness 
and texture of the rock ; moderately hard limestones are more apt to show 
them than friable sandstones or excessively hard igneous rock. The ma- 
jority of the stones in the till do not show these characteristics to any 
great extent. Many of them are not very different from water-worn peb- 
bles or broken rock fragments. But so many bowlders are well planed 
and striated, and so many others show these characteristics to some extent, 
that they become significant. The subangular forms, particularly, suggest 
that the bowlders were gripped in a vise and planed. This vise was the 
ice in which the stones were imbedded and then ground by friction against 
its bed, and against other bowlders. The stones w^ere polished by the fine 
material carried in the ice, and scratched by fragments of hard rock against 
which they scraped. 

4. In cliemical composition, the clay of the till differs from the clays 
produced by weathering. The latter are known as residual clays. In their 
making, the soluble compounds of the rock are leached out largely, leaving 
the insoluble remainder as earthy matter, which if made up of very small 
particles, is commonly called clay. Glacial clay, on the other hand, contains 
all the constituents originally present in the rocks which were ground up in 
its formation. It may properly be called rock flour, as it is the fine product 
of the grinding of rocks in the glacier. It is made mostly from the weaker 
rocks, such as shales which crumbled readily under the pressure of the ice. 
Fragments of shale are not easily recognizable in the local till, although it 
is the most common rock constituent. This is due to the ease with which 
shale was ground up into the clay which forms the body of the till. 

5. The till occasionally shows a kind of cleavage in wavy lines. Such 
cleavage (foliation) may be seen in the gravel-pits on the lower road to 
■the west of North Kickapoo Creek. These bands are not a feature of 
deposition, but are due to shearing under the pressure of the moving ice. 

STRATIFIED DRIFT 

Unlike the till, the stratified drift is of limited distribution and 
generally of slight thickness. It was deposited by waters from the melting 
ice, and its materials were assorted into beds composed of sediments of 
similar sizes, according to the transporting power of the water which 



ICE AGE 



63 



doposited them. IMost of the stratified drift shows distinct jjlaiics of 
bedding, but even wliere these are wanting tlic iiiatorial has been 
assorted by stream action. IMuch of it is but slightly water worn, as the 
time during which it Avas in transport was too short foi* the development 
of water-rounded surfaces. The stratified drift may 1)(' divided into two 
classes according to its distribution: (1) that associated with pi'cscnt 
drainage lines, and (2) that of irregular distribution, not in valleys. Each 
of these classes may be divided into (a) surface deposits, and (b) deposits 
covered by till. 

1. The most conspicuous beds of stratified drift are those in Illinois 
Valley and in the valleys of its larger tributaries. The surface deposits 
belong to two groups. The first group is composed of a series of gravel 
beds that extend westward beyond the area covered by this report; they 
lie at high levels, generally near the top of the valley slopes, extend up the 




Fig. 21. — Gravel bed of coarsely bedded ' ' high-level ' ' gravels on Cedar Creek. 



larger tributaries, and occur in beds as nmch as 60 feet thick. They will 
be described more fully in the succeeding chapter, as the "high-level" 
gravels (fig. 21). The second group extends into this area from the 
valleys of the Dupage, Desplaines, and Kankakee rivers, as part of the 
Late Wisconsin valley train. These beds have no definite limit downstream, 



64 UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 

but disappear gradually below Marseilles. They are at lower levels than 
the former group and are confined more nearly to the main valley. They 
are finer, being, on the whole, sandy rather than gravelly. 

Some of the stratified drift of the valleys is covered by till. The two 
most important groups of this kind are a series of gravel beds between 
Seneca and Marseilles, best developed on the northern side of the valley 
in beds up to 70 feet thick to be described later as the "Kickapoo beds," 
and buried gravels and sands west of Peru extending beyond Spring 
Valley. The latter are mostly on the south side of the valley, and will be 
discussed later as the ' ' Peru beds. ' ' 

2. The stratified drift outside the valleys is of sparse and irregular 
distril)ution. Here and there patches of sandy or gravelly material may 
be seen on the prairie. These are of limited extent and slight thickness. 
An occasional knoll of gravel, known as a kame, may be seen along the 
front (w^est side) of the Farm Ridge moraine and similarly on the head- 
waters of Covel Creek; but most of the stratified drift is not so disposed 
as to make pronounced topographic features. 

The materials found in these deposits in general are not so coarse as 
those in the beds marginal to the valleys. The sands and gravels on the 
prairie were deposited in large part by water which flowed over a rather flat 
surface and without great velocity. Bedding is generally obscure and the 
gravels in many places have some clay mixed with them and are then known 
locally as loamy gravels. In large part, these deposits of stratified drift 
were left by the Avater flowing from the receding ice front. 

Buried in and beneath till sheets is much stratified drift which has no 
relation to existing valleys. This drift consists in many places of thin 
sheets of sand and gravel interleaved with till. Such material is found in 
almost all the w^ells of the region. (Sections will be given later.) Here and 
there thicker bodies of stratified drift lie beneath the surface till. Beds of 
this sort may record old valleys which were filled in part by glacial waters, 
and then obliterated by the deposition of till above them. 

LOESS 

Loess is typically a loam, intermediate in texture between clay and 
sand. On microscopic examination it shows many flattened particles. 
Though altogether uncemented, a vertical face of it once developed will 
stand for years (fig. 22). The prevailing color is buff, but drab may be 
seen in places. Shells of land snails (gastropods) are common in loess. 
Most of its material locally is fresh and ((uite calcareous, concretions of 
lime carbonate l)cing al)undant in many ])laces. Most loess is now commonly 
thought to have been dust deposited by the wind. ]\Iuch loess was formed 
at various times during the Ice Age. After the retreat of an ice sheet, the 
sweep of the winds over the bare surface was particularly effective in 



ICE AGE 



65 



blowing about llic line material left by the ice. As soon as tlic cliiiiate 
became mild cnoiijih to allow the growth of j)laiits, the cover of vegetation 
arrested the accuiiiulalioii ol" loess. An impoi'tant source of loess was the 
silt-laden water that issued from the melting glaciei', and built up great 
mud flats which, in drying, sup])lied the prairie winds abundantly with 
dust. There is much silt veiy similar to loess, associated Avith the drift 
of this region, but it contains occasional bowldei-s which loess lacks. They 
imply deposition by water, in Avhich floated ice containing imbedded 
bowlders that Avere droi)])ed on melting. 

East of Spring Valley there is little true loess at the surface. "West of 
Spring Valley it increases in amount, and is well developed on the prairies 




Fig. 22.— Loess under gravel on Spring Creek. Note the vertical sides of the loess 
and the initials carved in it. 

about Bureau C^reek. Here it attains a thickness of 30 feet in places, and rests 
either directly on till, or on gravel which overlies till. The prairie east 
and south of the Hennepin gravel flats is covered abundantly by buff loess. 
In very restricted patches it is found on top of the drift east of Spring 
Creek, as on Little Vermilion River immediately above the Matthiessen 
and Hegeler zinc Avorks, and again east of Ottawa at the crossing of the 
first tributary above the mouth of Fox River by the Marseilles road. 

In this region loess is much more abundantly developed betAveen sheets 
of till than it is as a surface formation. In this older loess, remains of life 



66 UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 

are scarce. Good sections of buried loess are found on Indian Creek, and 
in almost every bank between JMorris and Seneca. 

UPLAND CLAY 

Similar in many respects to the loess is a heavy clay which covers 
most of the upland. Although of almost universal distribution in this 
region, this upland clay is more extensively developed west of the 
Marseilles till ridge than east of it. The clay in the western region 
averages about three feet in thickness, and at Spring Valley it is as much 
as eight feet thick. In the eastern region such thicknesses are unknown. 
This clay is always the surface formation, and commonly is clearly 
differentiated from the base upon which it rests. It apparently has no 
limit in elevation but generally becomes thinner on the higher ridges. Its 
physical characteristics are very uniform. When cut, the clay is smooth, 
and shows a well-polished surface. Occasional bits of chert are found in 
the clay. Its color is brown of varying shades, but in thick sections may 
be greenish. It has a closer texture than loess and consequently it makes 
a heavier soil. The clay lies over all kinds of formations, from gravel and 
till to bedded rock, without showing appreciable variations of character. 
Its probable manner of origin is discussed in Chapter V. 

Surface of Drift 

The surfaces formed in the deposition of stratified drift by water are 
nearly plane, except as modified by subsequent erosion. The surface of the 
till, however, is undulatory. From a distance it may appear level ; but 
viewed at close range, it is slightly billowy, due to numberless gentle swells 
and shallow sags. In this region the prairie is commonly so flat that these 
vmdulations readily escape notice. Cultivation has helped to destroy them 
by plowing down the swells and draining the depressions which formerly 
were emphasized by small marshes. Unlike water, the ice which deposited 
the drift was able to get rid of its load without particular reference to 
slope, and to deposit it with an uneven surface. 

In some places the till is heaped into long ridges which rise a hundred 
feet or more above the surrounding prairie. These are known as moraines. 
The principal ones within this region have been previously noted and are 
shown in figure 23. 

History of an Ice Sheet 

manner of development 

The drift was deposited by great ice sheets (glaciers grown to 
continental proportions) which once overspread the region. Due to 
atmospheric and climatic changes, it is believed that huge snow fields 
developed in the northern part of the continent. The snow fields gradually 



ICE AGE 



67 



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<" o o — c .S 
° ? £^ *- 



c *- = i: 

o 5f o o 2 i£ >^ 

cj C3 *" S' 



^CSS.; 





'"'"^s.^l 



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<!>. 



:/ /H^. 



(2< 

p 



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. \^ 



68 UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 

developed into ice fields similar to that of Greenland. With a sufficient 
accumulation of snow and ice, motion began thi'ough pressure resulting 
from the weight of the ice, and the ice moved outward from the center 
of the ice field just as the ice of Greenland is moving out toward the 
borders of the island. The principal center from which the ice moved into 
this region was in Labrador. 

Within a glacier every particle of ice is moving forward almost 
constantly. The position of the ice front at any time depends upon the 
balance between the rate of forward motion of the body of the ice and 
the rate at which the ice front is melted back. When the ice is pushing 
forward more rapidly than it is being melted back, the glacier advances; 
when w^aste exceeds forward motion, the ice front retreats. Changes of 
climate caused repeated oscillations of the ice front. At times the ice 
retreated hundreds of miles, and later it advanced again, perhaps beyond 
the area which it had lost. The northern part of the United States was 
thus subjected repeatedly to invasions by great continental ice sheets, 
which, at the time of their maximum development, reached as far south 
as the Ohio and the lower Missouri rivers. 

WORK OF AN ICE SHEET 

By reason of its great mass, constant direction of motion, and rigidity, 
the ice worked effectively in modifying the surface over which it passed. 
The ice secured a load of foreign material ( 1 ) by freezing to loose material 
on the surface over which it advanced, (2) by plowing up such material, 
or (3) by quarrying it out in dragging its great weight over projecting 
steep faces of rock, such as cliffs. Gradually the ice stripped the surface 
of its loose earth and planed down prominences over which it passed with 
the aid of the rock material carried in its bottom. The rock fragments 
were used in wearing the bed of the glacier, and they were also shifted 
about within the ice and thus suffered wear by friction with each other. 
The extraordinary eroding power of a glacier lies in the rigidity with which 
it holds the stony material it gathers, so that it uses rock fragments in its 
base like firmly set graving tools to cut the rock beneath. Thus the stones 
within the glacier were planed, striated, and made subangular. At the 
same time, the rock base over which movement took place was smoothed, 
striated, and grooved. 

After getting a load, the ice transported, and later deposited the 
material which it had gathered. A considerable part of the load was 
carried within the ice, but most of it was dragged along at its bottom 
where most material was available. Glacier ice is a much more efficient 
carrier, both as to amount and size of material, than water. Glacial 
bowlders, of a size which water could never have moved, were carried from 
Canada to the Central States in great numbers. The shifting of much of 
the material was perhaps intermittent, for as the bottom of the glacier 



ICE AGE 69 

molted, the niatoi-ial it fanicd was dropped to ])(' draji^cd on a^ain later. 
At times the ice l)eeame ovei'loadeil. pai'ticularl\' dui'iiiy' jxTiods of retreat 
of the iee front, and much material was then (himpetl. Deposition was 
mnu<x on most of the time l)eneath tlie ice, but at all times and in (greatest 
([uantity at its ed^'c'. Tlere tlu> melting' ice di'opped its entii'c load. Since 
not everywhere was an eipiai amount of material carrii'd in the ice, 
deposition was iinetiual, and an irrej^ular surface was foi-med. AVhei'ever 
the edii'e of the ice remained stationary foi' a lony' i)ei"iod, the deposits 
accumuiatini'' l)eneath its ed<>e gradually built up thick morainic ridges 
under its mar<;in. Their size is a sort of index to the lenj^th of halt of 
the iec front at a jiiven place. 

Associated with the ice wei'e the waters formed by its melting. The 
most important of these were (1) the waters which collected under the ice 
from its melting base, and flowed out from beneath the ice to join (2) the 
waters issuing from the ice edge. Deposition l)y streams may have taken 
place, therefore, b;)th beneath the ice and beyond its margin, but mostl}^ 
in the latter place, as the sub-glacial streams probably carried less material, 
flowed more swiftly, and were of smaller volume than tlie great streams 
which poured forth from the extremity of the glacier, and spread broadly 
over the surface of the land. Where the waters flowed out upon a flat 
surface, they deposited their materials in a broad belt marginal to the 
ice front, and the surface of the outwash was built up wdth a gentle slope, 
forming an oufwasli plain. If the drainage was confined to a valley, the 
materials were deposited in a similarly sloping flat, but greatly elongated 
down the valley; this is known as a valley train. If the waters w^ere ponded, 
they gave rise to level flats of fine material such as are built on a lake 
floor. In all these situations, floating fragments of ice with bowlders 
attached were carried out occasionally, and the bowdders Avere dropped 
where the ice grounded., or "svhere its melting caused them to be set free. 
Because the velocity and hence the carrying ability of the glacial waters 
decreased commonly with increasing distance from the front, the coarsest 
materials were deposited first, and finer and finer sediments in succession. 

Such was, in brief outline, the work of a single iee sheet. The glacial 
record sho\vs numerous repetitions and interruptions in the history of 
glaciation. (limatic changes caused repeated recessions and readvances of 
the ice. In some cases the ice-free intervals were long enough for the 
reestablishment of vegetation, and in such cases the till sheets are found 
separated by buried soils. In North America five or six distinct glacial 
epochs are recognized, each being separated from the succeeding one by a 
considerable ice-free interval. During some of the latter the ice is known 
to have receded hundreds of miles. The duration of the whole Ice Age 
has been estimated at several hundred thousand to a million or more vears.^ 



*For estim.Ttos see Chainberlin and Salisbury, Earth History, vol. Ill, p. 420. 



70 upper illinois valley 

History of Glaciation in Upper Illinois Valley 

EROSIVE work of THE ICE 

The amount of erosion which the ice accomplished in this region may 
be estimated roughly from the thickness and constitution of the drift. The 
average thickness is about 50 feet. Practically all this consists of fresh 
rock materials; rock waste formed by the decay of rock is almost 
unrecognizable in the local drift. Moreover, on a conservative estimate 
90 per cent of the drift is of local origin. A thickness of 50 feet of ground- 
up rock points therefore to the erosion of an almost equal amount of bed 
rock by the ice. Such thicknesses of drift, and even greater ones, are 
common over an area including most of Illinois and southern and eastern 
Wisconsin. The local thickness of drift, therefore, is not due to particularly 
favorable local conditions of deposition. 

All surfaces were not equally affected by the erosion of the ice. 
Projecting rock masses were eroded most severely; valleys transverse to 
the movement of ice were sheltered comparatively from the attack of the 
ice. The greatest erosion was on the sides of hills facing the oncoming ice, 
the stoss sides, and in valleys through which the ice passed lengthwise. 
These stoss sides were planed down greatly, whereas their lee sides were 
less worn. The ice moved into this region from the north and east so 
that on these sides of rock hills the drift is thin, and the bed-rock surface 
has been planed down considerably. On the lee sides of the hills the drift 
is thicker, and beneath it may be left some weathered rock which was not 
disturbed by the ice. This relation is shown in the clay pits between 
La Salle and Peru on Sixth and Seventh streets, in which the material 
from the north side of the hill (above Seventh Street) was stripped off by 
the ice, and dumped on the south side of the hill below Sixth Street. 

The most readily recognized record of ice erosion consists in the striae 
(scratches) left on the surface of the bed rock. Locally, these are not seen 
readily, both because many of the underlying rock formations do not 
preserve such markings, and because the bed rock is hidden by drift in 
most places. The various limestones have preserved such markings best; 
because of their superior compactness and even texture they retain the 
striae in distinct form. The only other formation on which glacial markings 
of any kind have been observed is the St. Peter sandstone. The best glacial 
striae observed are on Au Sable Creek, one-half mile south of the Kendall 
County line; here the Richmond limestone shows well-striated and fairly 
Avell-polished surfaces. The general direction of the striae here is east- 
northeast to west-southwest, the striae being not quite parallel. Some 
distance below outcrops of Platteville-Galena limestone on the Au Sable 
show similar scratches. With coarser tools, greater pressure, and less 
resistant bed rock, deeper markings, known as grooves, are made. They 



ICE AGE 71 

arc best developed in the St. Peter sandstone west of Ottawa, particularly 
at the strippings of the Federal Plate Glass Company and in the ravine 
to the north of them. A fuller description of these grooves is given later. 

EARLY ICE INVASIONS 

This region was glaciated repeatedly. The eastern part was overspread 
b\' at least four great ice sheets and the extreme western part by three. 
The latest ice invasion, however, has left thick deposits over most of the 
surfaee. Evidences of earlier glaciations must be sought mostly along the 
undercut slopes of valleys. The older drift sheets have been destroyed in 
large part, and the distribution of their remnants is very limited. Because 
till varies greatly from place to place in characteristics and has no 
systematic limits in its vertical distribution, the correlation of older tills 
of discontinuous and infre(iuent exposure may never be reduced to a 
certainty, but must remain a matter of judgment based on the weight of 
probability. The central area of this region was an upland in pre-glacial 
times. It was exposed to erosion by each successive ice sheet, and probably 
was stripped bare of its cover repeatedly. On this upland even now the 
till is thin compared with its development in the large buried valleys. 
Along the margin of Illinois Valley, where exposures are best, the drift is 
thin, and in many places entirely wanting, due to the vigorous stream 
action. On the whole, therefore, this region does not present very favorable 
conditions for the preservation of a record of the older glaciations. 

The older buried till sheets are recognized in part by differences in 
their constitution, but chiefly by the records of ice-free intervals which 
separate them from the younger surface till. The evidence of an 
interglacial epoch consists ideally of (1) the remains of plant or animal 
life, such as buried soil or loess containing shells. Other evidences are 
(2) the much weathered surface of a buried till, or (3) large beds of 
stratified drift of widespread development between till sheets. Where a 
number of these features are developed betAveen two sheets of till the 
conclusion is that they belong to different epochs. 

For considerable periods large areas were freed entirely from ice. 
During these times the surface was exposed to weathering. Climatic 
changes may have enabled the growth of vegetation. As the ice readvanced, 
the Aveathcred and soil-covered surface was largely removed, but here and 
there remnants were buried which record the existence of an ice-free 
interval. Portions of the older till sheet may also have escaped destruction. 
From such evidence, the conclusion is reached that east of Marseilles the 
deposits of two, and probably three, ice sheets are recorded; west and 
south of Peru, the record of a still earlier ice incursion can be established. 
Several selected sections are given below which illustrate the tills at 



72 UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 

various places. These show remnants of tills so different from the surface 
till that they may be taken to represent earlier epochs of glaciation. 

1. On west bank of creek northwest of Seneca, 150 yards above 
Marseilles road, a section of about 50 feet shows : 

Thickness 
Feet 
(5) Stony, buff till, very calcareous, with line of bowlders 

at top 20 

(4) Pink, gritty till, calcareous (Marseilles till) 20 

(3) Loess, quite fresh, light and yellow 2-4 

(2) Gravels, rather fine, weathered 2 

(1) Basal till — entirely weathered, almost no trace of 

calcium carbonate left; bowlders, largely decom- 
posed, although they still retain their form; ex- 
posed 5 

2. On Nettle Creek in Grundy County, immediately below the 
Erienna-Saratoga township line, a till similar to (1) above may be seen 
beneath a section of younger blue till. The lower till is thoroughly 
leached, deeply cracked, and the cracks have been filled with sand. The 
stony material is weathered, and its striae are effaced. The till is very 
gritty in texture. Several similar sections are shown on Nettle Creek below 
the railroad bridge, almost as far doAvnstream as the Morris Township line. 

3. On Saratoga Creek a somewhat different phase is developed about 
one-half mile above the JMorris Township line. Here the lower till is a 
residuum of brown clay with much sand and many rotted bowlders of 
foreign origin. Immediately upon it rests a highly calcareous laminated 
lake clay belonging to the last period of glaciation. 

4. In the several ravines north of Marseilles a number of freshly cut 
banks show at their base an old till which has been oxidized and cracked 
and is very stony. This is separated from the till above by a few feet 
of lake clays of much later age. 

5. The Peru beds furnish evidence of an earlier glaciation. They lie 
west of Peru and are described in Chapter VI. 

6. On upper Cedar Creek, just above its southward bend in Eden 

Township, a section shows: 

Thickness 
Feet 

(5) Coarse gravels, usually found along valleys in the 

western region (' ' High-level ' ' gravels) 5 

(4) Smooth, pink till (Bloomington till) 15-20 

(3) Loess, several feet thick, conforming to the very irreg- 

ular surface of the bed beneath 

(2) Weathered till, much cracked, and stones in it decom- 

posed. The till is highly calcareous, but the 
calcium carlionate has probably seeped in from 
above after an earlier leaching 10-15 



ICE AGE 



73 



(1) Gr;ivcls and sands, yellowish brown, hij^hly oxidized. 
In this is much large igneous niateiial, which is 
thoroughly rotted 

The conditions of wcatliering of the lower till and gravels of this 
section point to a long period during which the older till was exposed to 
weathering before the present surface till was deposited over it. 




Fig. 24. — Organic deposits buried beneath till on Spring Creek: A, old bog con- 
taining half -decayed root fibers and many snail shells; B, fine loess-like silt; C, Bloom- 
ington till. 

7. On west bank of Spring Creek, about a mile below Dalzell (fig. 24) : 

Thickness 
Feet 

(3) Bloomington till 40 

(2) Loess lo-20 

(I) Silt at base of section crowded with shells and roots of 

plants 

WISCONSIN GLACIAL DEPOSITS 
GENERAL DESCRIPTION 

All but a very small part of the till of this region belongs to the 
Wisconsin epoch of glaciation, the closing epoch of the Ice Age. Most 



74 UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 

sections of Wisconsin till of any considerable thickness show several till 
sheets which may remain distinct over a considerable area. Although the 
distinction between them is clear and persistent, it is not of such a character 
as to indicate that they are referable to distinct ice epochs, but rather to 
stages of one long epoch in which the ice front was subject to many 
oscillations. Outwash is interbedded fairly abundantly with the till. 

The variety of conditions during the Wisconsin epoch is well 
illustrated on Indian Creek at the "High Bluff," just above the mouth 
of Crooked Leg Creek. This is probably the finest exposure of till in all 
the region and gives a section of almost 100 feet. 

Thickness 
Feet 

(8) Sand and gravel beneath the surface clay 10 

(7) Blue-gray till, very compact, matrix fine and compact. 25 

(6) Coarse gi-avel, material slightly water worn 6 

(5) Pink till, fresh, gritty, rather stony 35 

(4) Coarse sand and gravel, grading into 

(3) Pink clay, thin bedded 3 

(2) Blue-drab till, interbedded with sand 15 

(1) Stratified drift, mostly fine, resting upon St. Peter 

sandstone, almost at creek level 

This great section shows a considerable variety of conditions, with 
three distinct till sheets, but with no important historical break. All the 
tills of this section are referred to the last glacial epoch. 

BASIS OF SUBDIVISION OF THE WISCONSIN DEPOSITS 

The character of the Wisconsin till is probably much influenced by the 
distribution of the outcrops of the various rock formations over which the 
ice passed, and this influence furnishes a partial basis for the further 
subdivision of this period into three minor divisions. The till of the 
western half of the area and the basal portions of the till in the eastern 
half, are commonly brightly colored. Two colors predominate in fresh 
sections, blue (in places drab), and till with a pinkish cast. In many 
places, though not everywhere, the pinkish till appears to be a phase of 
the blue till which has been exposed to weathering and is somewhat 
oxidized. In most places it lies above the blue till, but in a few places 
single beds show a blending of the two colors. Where these brightly 
colored tills are observed beneath the younger dull-colored, huffish till 
which occurs at the surface in the eastern part of the region, the contrast 
is striking. The surface till of the eastern part of the region is generally 
buff-drab in color, more clayey and somewhat less stony than the tills 
below, and carries fewer beds of stratified material. It appears that the 
older Wisconsin till (in the western part of the area) is most highly 
colored, that the till of intermediate Wisconsin age (about Marseilles) 



ICE AGE 75 

carries loss hipfhly colorod clay, and that the youngest till (in Grundy 
County) is dull eoloi-od. The prohahle explanation is to be found in the 
disti-ibutioii of the bed rock. The 'Toal Measures" underlie most of the 
r('f>-ion, but their ]i resent castei'n margin extends only slightly beyond the 
head of Illinois TJiver. In this series gaudy olays and clay shales are 
abuiidniit. Tn its eai'lier invasions the ice found these materials farther 
east than tliey lie at present, but by repeated erosion gradually stripped 
them off entii'ely east of C'hannahon, and in time exposed the underlying 
limestones, chiefly of Niagaran age. On this theory, the "Coal Measures" 
clays "were thus largely incorporated in the older tills, and deposited in 
the western part of the area. The later till, however, was foi-mcd chiefly by 
the grinding u]i of the limestone that had I'cmained covered more generally 
dui'ing the earlier ice invasions. In this manner the duller color, and 
greater content of calcium carbonate of the till about the head of Illinois 
Valley is explained. In this difference of source of materials, in the areal 
distribution of the different till sheets, and in the persistent development 
of stratified materials between them, are found the bases for a tentative 
subdivision of the Wisconsin epoch as outlined in the following paragraphs. 

BLOOMINGTON MORAINE AND TILL SHEET 

The maximum extension of the Wisconsin ice carried the ice front 
westward as far as western Bureau County, and southward as far as 
Bloomington. At this stage the ice made a long halt and developed a thick 
terminal moraine, known as the Bloomington moraine, Avhich lies some 
distance west and south of this region. While the ice covered this region 
and as it melted away, it deposited a cover of drift which forms the present 
surface of a large part of the prairies of Bureau County and of western 
La Salle County. The topography of this region is that of a flat ground 
moi-aine with almost indistinguishable swells and sags. The absence of 
depressions is shown by the lack of marshes and ponds. The general 
flatness of this surface is broken by the Princeton moraine (fig. 23), which 
extends northeastward from the river at Depue. This moraine Avas formed 
probably during a halt in the recession of the ice. 

The Bloomington till is the oldest till of the Wisconsin series, and the 
most highly colored, probably because it contains the greatest quantity of 
material from the Carboniferous clays. The till is rather gritty in texture 
and carries many water-worn stones, particularly cherts. A striking 
peculiarity of the till consists in the perfect molds which these pebbles 
leave in the till, due in part to their smooth surfaces, and in part to the 
compactness of the matrix. Eastward the till appears with considerable 
regularity under younger till sheets. In the eastern region it is recognized 
by its distinctive color and compactness, and commonly also by a bed of 
stratified drift which separates it from the younger till above. The basal 



76 



UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 



tills ill the sections previously given show this oldest Wisconsin till, 
stratified material at its top is most commonly loess-like silt. 



The 



MARSEILLES MORAINE AND TILL SHEET 



The second phase of the Wisconsin ice epoch consisted in its readvance 
to Marseilles and the formation of the Marseilles moraine, more familiarly 
known as the Rutland Hills and Mission Ridge (fig. 23). Along this 
oelt, the edge of the ice remained stationary for a long time, and 




Fig. 25. — Folded lake clays above sand quarry at Wedron. The light material at 
the top of the section is till; beneath it lie horizontal glacial clays; next lower at the 
left hand side of the view is a small fold in a similar lacustrine clay. 



made the largest terminal moraine of the region, a till ridge 
in places 10 miles wide and 100 to 125 feet high. On each side 
of the river the moraine divides into several ridges, the most prominent 
of which crosses the Illinois at Marseilles. A smaller ridge crosses the 
river at Walbi-idgc's Creek, and other minor ridges appear here and 
there along the moraine. Farm Ridge, near Utica, is probably an outlying 
western member of the Marseilles series. Although the ice front stood in 
this general position for a long while, a part of it was subject to minor 
oscillations, in which it formed these secondary ridges. 



ICE AGE 77 

The Marseilles moraine appears to have been built after a readvance 
of the ice front, and not merely during a recessional halt. Its till shows 
characteristics quite different from those of the underlying till. The two 
are nearly everywhere separated by thick beds of finely stratified material 
which could hardly have accumulated beneath the ice. The stratified 
drift between the IMarseilles and Bloomington till is fresh and was derived 
fi'om the readvancing ice. If the gravel beds along the upper slopes of 
the Illinois are correctly correlated with this stage, this stratified drift rests 
u]ion a surface which in places shows w^eathering, and even buried vegeta- 
tion. Below these "high-level" gravel beds, east of Utiea, a foot or more 
of peat overlies the Bloomington till. 

The Marseilles till is less brightly colored and less compact than the 
Bloomington till beneath it. In the Marseilles moraine, pockets of 
irregularly stratified water-worn material are rather more common than 
in other till sheets. The Marseilles till forms the surface drift eastward 
from the moraine to the IMorris basin. On the whole, the matrix of the till 
is fine, cuts Avith a smooth surface, and contains an abundance of striated 
stones. Good sections are exposed on the tributaries of Fox River, on Covel 
Creek, and on Nettle Creek. 

A section of this till, exposed in the Marseilles moraine at the first 
sand pit south of Wedron, is illustrated partially in figure 25. The section 

is as follows : 

Thickness 
Feet 

(7) Gray-pink till, fairly stony (Marseilles) 5 

(6) Sanils and gravels of disturbed stratification 8 

(5) Sands and gravels, horizontally bedded 20 

(4) Drab to blue calcareous clays, horizontally bedded 

(Bloomington) 5 

(3) Finely laminated buff silts, as many as 50 laminae 
to the inch in places; the clay is folded into a 
sharp arch beneath the horizontal drab clays 

^vhich overlie it 2-3 

(2) Coarse and ill-worn sediments, and clay, which may be 

till 0-2 

(1) St. Peter sandstone, surface smooth 

The upper till (7) belongs to the Marseilles till sheet. In it are a 
nund)er of small beds of gravel that are tilted on end. These were picked 
up by the ice, carried, and deposited while frozen. In (6) the ice overrode 
a bed of stratified material and plowed up its upper poi'tion. The relation 
of (3) and (4) in which disturbed lake clays underlie similar undisturbed 
clays, suggests that the deposition of (3) took place in a shallow lake, in 
which the ice crumpled up the clays on its floor. 



78 



UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 



LATE WISCONSIN TILL SHEET, MINOOKA RIDGE, AND VALPARAISO MORAINE 

The Minooka Ridge extends northwestward from the head of Illinois 
River through Minooka, and merges into the Valparaiso moraine north of 
Will County. Figure 26 gives a view overlooking the Morris-Kankakee 



llflli I a<liil|iifr-Jr#ffil^- 




Fig. 26. — Kankakee-Morris flat as seen from Minooka Eidge. 

flat from the southern end of the ridge. At its western base flows Au Sable 
Creek, and on the east Dupage River. At ]\Iinooka the ridge has a width 
of about three miles. It is a moraine that rises about 60 to 80 feet above 
the low prairie on each side. Its surface is even more devoid of irregularities 
than that of the moraines to the west, and its slopes are even gentler. 
Eastward, against the sky line from Minooka, lies the Valparaiso moraine 
(fig. 27), deposited about the southern extremity of Lake Michigan in a 
great loop. The Valparaiso moraine forms the divide between Dcsplaincs 
River and Lake Michigan for a considerable distance. The Minooka Ridge 
is much smaller than the Valparaiso moraine, and parallels it closely west 
of the Desplaines and Dupage rivers. 

These two ridges and the drift of the country between them are 
deposits of the Wisconsin ice. The Minooka Ridge has been considered as 
marking the greatest extension of the ice sheet, a frontier line, as it were, 
to the great Valparaiso moraine farther east. 



ICE AGE 



79 



Within this area a differentiation of the Wisconsin f^laeiation into two 
distinct epochs does not api)ear valid, as the so-called Late Wisconsin till 
of the Minooka Ridge is not separated from that of the so-called Early 
Wisconsin till at Marseilles hy any great break. The till has a somewhat 
different color, being the dull, bnft' clay of the eastern region mentioned 
above. It is less gritty, softer, and more calcareous than the tills to the 
west. Linicstono, mostly of Niagaran age, is its all-important stony 




Fig. 27. — View across Desplaines Valley. The river 
foreground, and the skyline by the Valparaiso moraine. 



is marked by the trees in the 



constituent. Stratified drift is almost wanting. The Minooka till may be seen 
to overlie the older till at many places with a sharp line of contact, and with 
clearly distinguished characteristics. But beyond these features there is 
as yet no indication within this region of a break which would warrant 
the establishment of a separate glacial epoch for the till in the Minooka 
Ridge. 

MORRIS BASIN 

The shallow cuts of till shown in the Morris Basin present a rather 
uncertain record of the glacial history of this region. The basin lies 
between the Marseilles moraine and the Minooka Ridge. Previous 



80 UPPER ILLINOIS VALIjET 

classifications have placed its surface drift within the Early Wisconsin, 
and have located the extreme western margin of the Late Wisconsin till 
sheet at the ]\Iinooka Ridge. There is satisfactory evidence that two till 
sheets are found in the Morris basin, the soft buff till occurring in quantity 
above the firmer blue till of the Marseilles stage. Many excellent sections 
are shown in the western part of the basin, on Armstrong's, Bill's, and Hog 
Run. The following sections show relations typical for the Morris basin : 

Section of Morris basin on lower Bill's Eun at the lower road crossing 

Thickness 
Feet 

(4) Till, largely derived from (3) 5 

(3) Blue, bedded clay, very calcareous, smooth, and in 

places finely laminated 15 

(2) Typical blue till, compact (Marseilles stage) 10 

(1) Sands and gravels, horizontally bedded 

Section of Morris basin on Hog Eun, north ban'k, at crossing of Kanl'aTcee and 

Seneca E. E. 

(5) BuflC till, well-glaciated stones 5 

(4) Blue clay, finely laminated 8 

(3) Sand and gravel 3 

(2) Till, blue-pink, compact about 5 

(1) Clear, coarse sand 35 

Section of Morris basin on Hog} Eun, across creeTc from above section, and a 

few rods wpstream 

(6) Till, bufle, soft about 5 

(5) Blue clay, finely laminated 20 

(4) Silt and sand 5 

(3) Pink-blue till, brightly colored, variegated 10 

(2) Fine sand and good loess 

( 1 ) Coarse sands 20 

Sections might be quoted at length from this region all of which would 
show : 

(3) A thin capping layer of till, identical to all appearances with 
the till of the Minooka Ridge. 

(2) Stratified drift, largely blue lacustrine clays, of a color and 
composition which makes them appear to have been closely connected in 
origin with the till beneath. Figure 28 shows such clays, which are 
utilized in the tile works at Morris. 

(1) At the base is found the typical Marseilles till. 

From these sections it appears that the Morris basin was ponded by 
the Marseilles moraine, which was thrown across Illinois Valley. After 



ICE AGE 



81 



the ice of the IMarscillcs .staj!:c had withdrawn from the region, a lake was 
formed above Marseilles, and thicknesses of clays were laid down in it, 
ranging in places up to 20 to 30 feet. The accumulation of these clays 
l)oints to a ratlier lon^- ice-free interval for this immediate region, though 
the ice may not have been far away. The readvanciiig Late Wisconsin ice 
covered the Ijasin and extended beyond, probably as far as Seneca. This 
ice-sheet held its most advanced position for a short time only, during 
which it deposited a thin bed of till over the lake clays of the Morris basin, 
and tlien melted back to the vicinity of Minooka. 




w^m^^' 



I'lG. 2S. — L:uu.striue glacial clays at the tile works at Morris, 
exceedingly fine in texture and very finely bedded. 



These clays are 



LOESS 

True loess is confined mostly to the region west of Spring Yalley. 
This may have been blown up from the broad Illinois Valley about 
Hennepin just after the ice melted from the region. Here deposition by 
the stream was particularly heavy, the velocity of the water being checked 
as it entered the larger valley. Extensive deposits of silt probably were 
made at times, and when dry the silt was swept up out of the valley by the 
wind, and deposited over the prairie region. Evidence of its eolian origin 
is found in the indefinite limits of its vertical distribution. It forms a 
mantle of rather uniform thickness overlying the undulating till surface 



82 UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 

of the prairie. So even a distribution, irrespective of elevation, eculd be 
effected in all probability only by the action of the wind. 

UPLAND CLAY 

Distinct from the loess is the upland clay. This was probably formed 
in part by the waters flowing from the receding ice over the flat upland. 
The wind aided in the further distribution of the clay and obliterated any 
original well-defined limitations which it may have had. Other factors 
were also probably concerned in its development, many of which are still 
in operation, such as the bloAving about of dust by the wind whenever the 
surface of the prairie becomes dry; the work of burrowing animals, 
particularly earthworms ; and the decay of surface material, aided by 
vegetation. That the upland clay is more than a residual clay, however, 
is shown by its universal occurrence in rather constant thicknesses above 
till, gravel, and bed rock of all kinds, without appreciable variations of 
characteristics. Unlike residual clay, the clay also shows usually a clearly 
defined contact with the formation which it overlies. These characteristics 
point to the aid of either wind or water or both in its formation, 

SUMMARY 

In this region are recorded a series of successive ice invasions. 
Evidence of at least one invasion earlier than those of the Wisconsin epoch 
is preserved in bits of buried and weathered till, soil, and stratified drift 
beneath the Wisconsin drift. The Wisconsin epoch seems here to be divided 
into three stages, rather than into two, the three probably not separated by 
large intervals: (1) The maximum extension of the ice was attended by 
the making of the Bloomington moraine; (2) after a recession of fairly 
long duration, the ice readvanced and formed the Marseilles moraine; 
(3) during the last stage of glacial extension the small Minooka Ridge was 
built and a thin sheet of drift probably was spread over the Morris basin. 
After a slight retreat of the ice in this stage the great Valparaiso moraine 
was formed. All of these stages had associated with them abundant glacial 
waters that carried out great quantities of gravel, sand, and silt. 

Advantages of a Giaciated Area 

Glaciation has brought to this region a great many benefits, whereas 
it has entailed drawbacks which are but few in number and small in their 
significance. For a proper valuation of the importance of glaciation to 
human interests, present conditions must be compared with pre-glacial 
conditions as they are thought to have been. These may be reconstructed 
from the local history of the region, and from a comparison of unglaciated 
sections with adjacent drift-covered areas similarly situated. 



ICE AGE 83 

SMOOTHING OF THE SURFACE 

It has been shown tliat the present surface of the land is much less 
irregular than was the surface before glaeiation. Communication in a 
region dissected by many valleys is both difficult and devious: roads arc 
forced to take a roundabout course in following valleys or in winding along 
ridges, and even so, transportation is difficult because steep grades cannot 
be avoided entirely. The different ice sheets spread a smooth cover over 
the older uneven surface, and thus made communication easy, (see 
diap. II). 

In providing an almost level surface, glaeiation also has aided 
agriculture, by making the extensive use of machinery possible, and by 
minimizing the dangers of soil destruction through erosion. On the prairies, 
almost every foot of ground may be cultivated. In regions of residual 
soils, especially if they have much relief, many of the slopes are too steep 
or have too little soil to be cultivated. 

CONTRIBUTION TO SOILS 

1. Glaeiation has increased greatly tlie tliickness of the loose material 
that overlies the bed rock. In this region the drift averages about 50 
feet in thickness, and almost the entire 50 feet needs only weathering and 
the accumulation of a little vegetable matter to become soil. Glaeiation has 
thus made provision for a deep soil, underlain by an almost inexhaustible 
subsoil. In unglaciated regions similarly situated, such depths of soil and 
subsoil are exceptional, and the thinness of the soils and the consequent 
danger of their exhaustion are serious problems in most unglaciated 
uplands. 

2. Locally the ice has provided uniformity in soils to a remarkable 
degree. In this region there is almost every variety of sedimentary rock, 
but the drift which overlies them is nearly uniform in character no matter 
what formation occurs beneath it. 

3. The extremely liigli quality of the soil resulting from glaeiation 
has aided the agricultural development of the prairie region. The soil 
formed by the weathering of the drift differs markedly from that formed 
by the weathering of the bed rock in that it contains more soluble mineral 
matter. These soluble compounds include the most valuable plant foods. 
In the older drift sheets the loss by leaching is more than in the younger, 
and the productivity of the soils is correspondingly reduced. The soils 
of the upper Illinois Valley made from the youngest till sheets, have lost 
relatively little plant food through leaching. 

4. The local drift is composed of rock fragments and rock flour 
derived from a variety of formations. It contains large contributions from 
nearly every rock formation for scores of miles to the north and east, and 



84 UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 

some from formations hundreds of miles to the north. Since the soil has 
been derived from rocks of many kinds, it contains a very wide variety of 
mineral constituents. All the elements required for the successful growth 
of vegetation are present in satisfactory proportions. The result is a soil 
of lasting fertility, which is suited to the production of most crops which 
can be grown in this climate. Residual soil commonly contains certain 
elements in inexhaustible abundance, but because it is limited in its 
composition to the mineral elements found in the formation from which 
it has been formed, some important plant foods are not uncommonly 
deficient. This means that in most residual soils fertilizing becomes a 
necessity earlier than in good glacial soils. As the region contains some 
of the best glacial lands in the world commercial fertilizers have played 
an unimportant part to date in the expenses of the La Salle or Grundy 
County farmer. The prices of farm land and the crops grown bear 
eloquent testimony to the fruitful nature of the soil after two generations 
of cultivation. 

5. Another peculiar advantage of glacial soils lies in their fine texture. 
The till of this region contains some groundup sandstone, both from the 
"Coal Measures" and from the St. Peter formation, mixed with much clay 
derived from shales and with ground-up limestone. Much of the 
rock crushed and ground by the ice was not reduced to the fineness of clay, 
and a small amount of coarse material is therefore found in the till, which 
gives to the soil and subsoil a certain degree of porosity. The soil of the 
region on the whole can be classified as a rather heavy clay loam. The 
advantages of such a soil are numerous compared with the excessively heavy 
soil formed by the decomposition of certain limestones or shales, or with 
the light soils derived from sandstone alone. The soil breaks up well 
under the plow and warms rather readily. It is fine enough to hold water 
well, and withstands drought splendidly. In its original condition it is 
somewhat deficient in drainage, a slight fault which has been corrected 
generally by tile drainage. The fineness of many of its particles also 
makes the plant food contained in it readily accessible to the roots of 
plants. 

The stratified material interbedded with the till furnishes in places 
an especially desirable subsoil. In parts of the Morris basin, the thick 
surface soil of the usual clayey loam is underlain at some depth by beds 
of sand or fine gravel. The combination furnishes a soil of great 
productivity, which is particularly warm and well drained. 

6. The contribution of tlie upland clay to the agriculture of the 
I'cgion is worthy of separate mention. In the western half of La Salle 
County, especially along Illinois Valley, the upland clay forms the 
immediate surface, and determines entirely the quality of the soil. The 
upland clay is of finer texture, somewhat more weathered than the till, and 



ICE AGE 85 

funiislies a hcavioi- soil. Near the valley, the till is wanting or very thin 
in many i)laces, and cither coarse gravel or bare bed rock takes its place. 
The soil Avhich conld have foi-nicd from gi-avel or bed rock in the time 
that has elai)sed since glaciation would be of slight thickness. Over all 
this ice-smoothed, gi'avcl-strewn area, however, is a mantle of upland clay 
from 3 to 8 feet thick, which has i)r()vided this zone marginal to the river 
with a])proximately as ])roduetive a soil as is that underlain by till. The 
fai-m land about Utica is formed largely from this upland clay, which here 
i-ests upon the St. Peter sandstone; no difference in fertility can be 
observed between this soil and that of the till farms of Eutland or Miller 
townships. Along ( Vdar Creek are highly productive fields of this clay 
underlain l)y 30 oi' 40 feet of coarse gravel. 

Where the ui)land clay overlies till it has contributed a benefit of a 
different sort. In many parts of the till-covered country of extreme 
northern Illinois and Wisconsin, the farmer finds a serious problem in the 
disposal of the bowlders, large and small, which cover his fields. In striking 
contrast are the stone-free fields and fence rows of the upper Illinois Valley. 
The till carries almost as many bowlders here as it does north of it, but 
most of them have been buried safely beneath the reach of the plow by the 
mantle of upland clay. 

The soils of the region may be divided into three classes: (1) the 
prairie soils of glacial origin, which cover by far the greater part of the 
area; (2) alluvial soils, the flood-built lands of the larger valleys, chiefly 
in Illinois Valley; (3) the soils of the slopes between upland and low^land, 
which consist chiefly of glacial material modified by soil creep and slope 
wash. Acre for acre the glacial soils of the prairie are the most valuable 
and are also most uniform. Differences in value of land in different parts 
of the prairie are due chiefly to differences in improvements and in 
distances from markets. The soils of the third class are least desirable, in 
part because least humus has accumulated in them, and in part because 
of the drawbacks of their steep and easily washed surfaces. The alluvial 
lands are less valuable than the prairie soils, because they are subject to 
floods, because they are so porous in many places as to "burn out" in 
times of drought, and because they are in part not very rich in plant food. 
Xeithei- of the latter classes arc to be compared in area or richness with 
tlie soils of the prairies. The crops of the prairie land are matched by 
few other sections of our country. To say that land yields as well as the 
prairies of northern Illinois is to say that the land is of unexcelled fertility. 
And these prairies are a gift of glaciation.^ 



=The prairie soils of La Salle and Gnindy counties were valued in 1910 at from $125 to $200 
per acre, dependinir on nearness to market, without considerins: the speculative values at which 
certain lands near the cities are held. In the ^forris basin the prairie lands averaged about $175 
an acre, and about Grand Ridge an average value of $'200 was claimed. The sandy soils of the 
valley train in the Morris basin at the same time were held at from $50 to $75 per acre. Since 
that time there has been an average annual increase in value of 10 per cent, little prairie land 
being on the market in 1915 at $200, with prices of $250 not uncommon. 



86 UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 

SHALLOW WATER SUPPLIES 

Glaeiation has lessened greatly the difficulties of securing a supply of 
water. Almost every high bank along a stream course shows one or more 
beds of sand and gravel. Wherever these beds lie below the level of 
ground water, they collect water in quantity. Wells less than 20 feet deep 
are abundant on the prairie. The ease with which good water may be 
secured was a great boon to the prairie farmer. The discovery that the 
apparently waterless prairies held an easily accessible water supply was 
one of the greatest aids in their settlement. But the amount of water which 
these beds of glacial outwash furnish is limited. With the recent develop- 
ment of stock raising, the reservoirs of the glacial gravel patches have 
become insufficient, and the dug well is being supplanted by drilled wells 
which penetrate the underlying rocks with their more copious and constant 
supply. 

SAND, GRAVEL, AND CLAY 

The glacial sands and gravels have been utilized rather extensively. 
Thin beds of gravel are distributed widely over the prairie surface so that 
generally the farmer can satisfy his needs from some nearby sand or gravel 
pit. Gravel and sand are commonly found together in the same pit. The 
most important deposits of sand and gravel, and those which have been 
most exploited commercially, are limited to Illinois Valley, especially to 
its western portion and to some of its western tributaries. The gravels 
and sands of the central and eastern region have a sharper grit, but at the 
same time also, lie in shallower deposits. In La Salle County the gravel 
and sand have excellent grit which makes tnem almost as desirable for 
construction purposes as crushed stone. Westward the materials are n.ore 
waterworn ; the gravel and sand about Hennepin are quite well rounded, 
and are therefore not so valuable. It is in the latter area, however, that 
they have been exploited most extensively, because of the tremendous 
quantity in which they occur, and the ease with which they may be loaded 
on cars. All the valley towns have abundant supplies of sand and gravel 
near at hand. The needs of the larger cities have developed extensive 
pits on Little Vermilion River, on Spring Creek, and at various points 
along Illinois Valley. The material below Depue is shipped chiefly as 
ballast and road metal for the railroads. 

In places, especially on Spring Creek, the gravels are so coarse that 
Ihcy may not be used effectively even by screening. Near the base of the 
gravel lie beds of cemented gravels. When cemented beds occur higher 
up in sections of gravel, they destroy their economic value because they 
cannot be removed except at excessive cost. 

The glacial lake clays have been utilized to some extent for brick and 
tile. At present their largest use is in the tile works at Morris, which 



ICE AGE 87 

works pink lake clays (fig. 28) in the manufacture of draintiles. These 
clays are excellently suited to this purpose, but have as yet been only 
slightly developed because of the abundance of the suixiior "Coal 
Measures" clay about Ottawa and Utiea. 

WATER POWER 

Glacial deposits obliterated most of the pre-glacial drainage lines. 
Streams therefore had to begin afresh after the Ice Age in cutting their 
channels. The valleys are still largely youthful, and instead of holding 
well-adjusted, gently flowing streams, the streams are swift and obstructed 
in ])laces by rock ledges that form rapids or falls in their courses. 

Upper Illinois Valley has a swift stream and in it are several rapids, 
as at IMarseilles and Starved Rock. The lower pi-e-glacial Illinois Valley 
has a gentle gi'adicnt throughout, uninterrupted by I'apids (fig. 3). The 
ui)i)er valley and its tributaries are a legacy of the Ice Age. The two 
]"ai)ids on the Illinois, those on the lower Kankakee, numerous rapids on 
the Desplaines, the Fox, the two Vermilion rivers, and several on smaller 
tributaries, all are expressions of the youth of the streams, which have 
not yet cut their channels to low grade. These rapids are capable of 
developing a very considerable water power, a small part of which was 
used in the beginnings of local industry to drive the primitive mills of the 
country. Except at Marseilles, this water power todaj^ is suffered to go to 
Avaste. Unused though it is, it furnishes a vast and permanent resource 
for the future, the development of which may do much for the industrial 
development of the region. 

Disadvantages of Glaciated Area 

The drawbacks which glaciation has fixed upon this region may be 
ciuimeratcd briefly, because they are not of the same order of importance 
as the advantages which it has conferred. 

IMPERFECT drainage 

Because glaciation has obliterated the old valleys, and because sufficient 
time has not passed for the extensive development of new ones, a large part 
of the prairie surface is imperfectly drained. Also the soil is somewhat 
impervious. On much of the prairie, agriculture can be carried on 
successfully only by tiling, and most of the prairie land has been tiled. 
In many cases, effective tiling of the heavy clay soil requires a close placing 
of the tiles at a cost ranging from $10 to .$50 per acre. Tiling has been 
used for two purposes: (1) to make marshy land arable, and (2) to give 
to the prairie surface in general, likely to be " soured ' ' and ' ' soggy, ' ' better 
drainage, and hence greater productivity. 



UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEV 



POOR PRAIRIE ROADS 



In rainy seasons the prairie roads are heavy and almost impassable in 
their unimproved condition. Locally, the abundance of gravel and of rock 
suitable for road metal has enabled the farmer to improve his roads with 
comparative ease. At greater distances from the large valleys, the 
maintenance of roads becomes a problem of some difficulty. 

SLOW DEVELOPMENT OF MINERAL RESOURCES 

The general presence of a drift cover of considerable thickness over 
the bed rock has retarded the development of the mineral resources of 
the region. Along the valleys of the larger streams the drift is thin and 
has not interfered seriously with the development of mining. Away from 
the rock exposures along the streams, especially in the western part of the 
area where the surface of the bed rock is low, mining is of recent origiu. 
Even now the Portland cement industry of the Vermilion district is 
confined closely to the valley bluffs where the limestone and clay lie near 
the surface, largely because the drift thickens rapidly back from the river 
and its stripping becomes prohibitively expensive. Coal mining was begun 
in the valleys but has recently extended to the prairie by drilling through 
the drift and upper beds of rock. The towns of eastern Bureau County, 
Spring Valley, Ladd, Seatonville, and Cherry, are all mining centers which 
have recently sprung up on the prairie. In La Salle County, Granville 
and Cedar Point are new places that have developed about prairie coal 
mines. 



CHAPTER V— GLACIAL DRAINAGE HISTORY OF 
ILLINOIS VALLEY 

Pre-Glacial Components 

During the Ice Age Illinois Valley had a history of singular 
individuality, whieh merits discussion apart from the regional sketch of 
glaciation. 

Although the present valley did not exist bef )re the glacial period, it 
has been developed largely from pre-glacial drainage lines, or at least from 
drainage lines that antedated the later glaciations. From the "Great 
Bend" to its mouth, Illinois River inherited a great pre-glacial channel 
which entered the present Illinois Valley at Depue. This old valley extended 
north of Depue, but its northward continuation was obliterated by thick 
deposits of drift, and its existence is known only imperfectly through the 
records of well drillings (fig. 15). Below the "Great Bend," this old valley 
served repeatedly as a line of discharge for the waters issuing from various 
ice shects.2 The ancient channel was partially filled with sediments that 
were washed out from the ice front in several of the glacial epochs. Much 
of the material thus deposited still remains in the old valley, so that the 
modern Illinois River flows on thick deposits of stratified drift about 100 
feet above the bottom of the older valley. This pre-glacial valley below 
Depue seems too large for the stream which now flows in it and is in 
striking contrast with the younger valley of the upper Illinois. 

Above Depue. the river appears to have appropriated parts of two 
pre-glacial valleys. From Utica to Depue the present valley rests upon 
rather thick deposits of stratified drift, and this part of the valley is 
believed to have been formed by a pre-glacial tributary to the main valley 
farther west (fig. 15). Above Seneca the low-lying surface of the Morris 
basin indicates another pre-glacial channel whose course the Illinois has 
occupied. 

Existence of the Upper Valley during Wisconsin Epoch 
The upper valley of the Illinois was in existence in the later stages of 
glaciation. There is varied evidence that the valley is only to a slight ex- 
tent the work of the recent Outlet River which drained glacial Lake ]Michi- 
gan, and that it was practically at its present depth in the Wisconsin glacial 
epoch. The evidence may be grouped under the following heads : 

^Barrows, H. H., The Middle Illinois Valley. Bulletin 15, Illinois State Geol. Survey. 

( 89 ) 



90 



UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 



TILL ON VALLEY FLOOR ABO\Ti: OTTAWA 

The accompanying illustrations (figs. 29 and 30) are from the Pioneer 
clay pits a half mile above East Ottawa, located in the valley between the 
canal bridge and Illinois River. The base of these sections is 
less than 30 feet above the present river level. The valley at this 
point is more than 150 feet deep, so that these pits lie 120 feet or more 
below the top of the valley. The sections show exposures of till several 
hundred yards in extent. The till rests upon "Coal Measures" clays and 
coal and is from 6 to 8 feet thick. Its characteristics are unmistakable : 
(1) a fresh clay matrix, set Avith bowlders, (2) many striated, subangular 




Fig. 29. — Coal bed buckled by the ice. 



stones, (3) "Coal Measures" clays Avhich have been plowed up and 
greatly disturbed by the ice, and into which was mixed glacial ma- 
terial, and all this buried by distinct till. Figure 29 shows till resting 
upon a scam of coal, and at one place a small anticline formed by the push 
of the ice against the coal bed. The fold lies normal to the direction of 
the valley and shows that the ice at this point was moving in a direction 
parallel to that of the present valley. The manner in which the shales were 
plowed up by the ice was discussed in Chai)ter IV. Figure 30 shows : 
A, till ; B, small patches of an old soil, fragments of gravel beds which may 
have come from the river bed, and much "Coal Measures" clay disrupted 
and mixed in among the body of the till ; C, crumpled ' ' Coal Measures ' ' 



Glacial dRainagk historV 



91 



clay, and bits of till and isolated bowlders that were pushed into this clay 
by the ice; and B, "Coal Measures" undisturbed at the base. The entire 
section shows a typical contact of till with a soft underlying formation of 
bed rock. 

The till found in the valley at this i)oint cannot l)c younger than the 
Marseilles till sheet, which is the youngest drift in this innnediate I'egion. 
Its occui-rence 120 feet below the top of a valley which was cut in solid bed 




Fig. 30. — Exposure of till near bottom of Illinois Valley above Ottawa at the 
Pioneer clay pits: A, normal till; B, till and disrupted "Coal Measures;" C, dis- 
turbed ' ' Coal Measures ' ' clays ; B, undisturbed ' ' Coal Measures. ' ' 

rock indicates an excavation of the valley to at least four-fifths of its present 
depth in the Marseilles stage of the "Wisconsin glacial epoch, if not at 
an earlier time. 



GLACIAL GROOVING ON VALLEY FLOOR BELOW OTTA\VA 

Figures 31 and 32 show the surface of the St. Peter sandstone in 
Illinois Valley, as uncovered a mile and a half west of Ottawa, at the 
plant of the Federal Plate Glass Company. About one acre has been 
stripped of its cover of soil and sand at this place, and the surface of the 



92 



UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 




Fig. 31. — Waterworii siuface of St. Peter sandstone which has teen smoothed and 
fjrooved by the ice. This view was taken on the property of the Federal Plate Glass 
Company west of Ottawa on the valley floor of the Illinois. 







4- 




Fig. 32 — Glacially grooved rock surface in Illinois Valley at site of Federal Plate 
Glass Company west of Ottawa. 



GLACIAL DRAINAGE HISTORY 



93 



rock shows a reinarka])lc iuiinl)or of typical glacial groovings. These vary 
from mere scratches to channels more than 5 feet deep. Those that show 
glacial characteristics most plainly are a foot oi- less in depth. (1) The 
larger grooves are in general ])arallel to each other but are not perfectly 
straight. Some of them, especially the deeper ones, wind considerably. 
Their general direction is somewhat north of east by south of west, and 
corresponds to the general direction of the valley. (2) The smaller grooves 
show a sharply V-shaped cross-section. Water wears rounded, U-shaped 
depressions; these were chiseled out by the action of ice. Figure 33 




Fig. 33. — Typical groove in St. Peter sandstone probably made by water, but the 
present form is due to glacial action. 



shows such a groove from above. The larger grooves do not show this 
characteristic so well, but are often merely well-smoothed channels 
Because of their broader floors, they resemble more closely the ordinary 
water-worn depression. This type is illustrated in figure 31. (3) The 
sides of the grooves are very smooth and regular. There is none of the 
irregularity of surface developed by the wear of water due to differing 
resistances of different parts of the rock, an invariable characteristic of 
w^ater-worn surfaces of the St. Peter sandstone. (4) Unlike water worn 
depressions, these grooves do not slope downstream continuously. Nor do 
the smaller grooves show any tendency to converge to the larger ones, as 
do water-made channels. Small grooves may be seen in places upon the 



94 UPPER ILLIlSrOIS VALLEY 

sides of larger ones, parallel with them, and, in one case, even npon the 
crest of one of the knobs (fig. 31). 

The winding course and flat bottom of the larger grooves suggest 
water-made channels, which the ice remodeled by smoothing their sides 
and deepening their floors. Many of the smaller grooves were cut out 
entirely by the tools which the ice carried. They are identical wuth glacial 
markings found in other places upon the St. Peter sandstone. The elevation 
of the rock at this place is less than 40 feet above the river level. The 
conclusion is that ice not later than the Wisconsin grooved the rock in the 
bottom of the valley when it was almost as low as at present. 

PERU BEDS 

West of Peru is a type of stratified drift along the sides of the valley 
unlike that common at the surface elsewhere. It is show^n particularly 
well along the south side of the valley between Peru and Spring Valley, 
on all of the lower tributaries west of Cedar Creek and probably also 
north of the valley on lower Spring Creek. Its distinctive features are 
(1) its position beneath the Bloomington till; (2) its restriction to a narrow 
zone marginal to the valley ; ( 3 ) the weathered condition of its constituents, 
many of the bowlders being much decayed, the beds as a whole being 
strikingly yellow due to oxidation; (4) a texture distinctly finer than that 
of the younger stratified drift which overlies the Peru beds in many places ; 
sand is very prominent and silt almost as common; (5) greater regularity 
of bedding than in the younger surface gravels; (6) occurrence at lower 
levels than the latter; (7) the presence of fossils, particularly snail shells, 
in loess. The buried plant beds of lower Spring Creek are to be correlated 
with this series in all probability. 

General sections typical of the Peru beds are given below : 
First ravine west of Cedar Creek, west side of ravine, one-quarter mile 
above crossing of road, at base of river bluffs : 

Thickness 
Feet 

5. Fresh high-level gravel 5-15 

4. Rotted gravels, coarse and fine; sharply 
separated from 5 by a line of rust which 
marks the oxidized surface of the older 
bed \ ^^'^ / 30-40 

3. Loess, surface irregular, thickness regular. • ( ^^ ] 2 

2. Fine gravel and sand j ( 15 

1. Clay-silt, dark blue, to base of section .... 

The lowest western tributary of Cedar Creek intersects the Peru- 
Granville road about a quarter of a mile south of the river bluffs. Here 



GLACIAL DRAINAGE HISTORY 95 

these yellow sands have been exposed in a large sand pit. In a number of 
its branches this ravine shows the following relations: 

4. Generally at the surface, fresh subangular gravels. 

3. Fresh, rather compact, stony, pink till belonging to the Bloom- 

ington till sheet. 
2. Peru beds; generally sand, typically oxidized, and rotted; 

water-worn coal, the only material coarser than sand found 

in these beds (lighter than other rock). 
1. Pre-Wisconsin blue till ; weathered, deeply cracked and the 

cracks filled with sand from above. 

West of Cedar Creek the Peru beds show an increasing preponderance 
of silt and clay. In a ravine a mile west of Cedar Creek, clay is underlain 
by a curious conglomeratic shale. The shale has been former by the 
cementation of silt, in which are imbedded bits of gravel and fragmentary 
clam shells. The clay for 40 feet above carries beds that teem with snail 
shells and vegetable remains. No till is here exposed above the silt. A 
short distance up the ravine, however, silt of identical characteristics, 
except for the absence of fossils, underlies the Bloomington till. This silt 
is of a peculiar drab-blue color, has a very uniform texture, is quite 
calcareous, grades upward into brownish-yellow sands, and is closely 
confined to a narrow strip along the river. This phase appears to be the 
western continuation of the Peru beds. 

On lower Spring Creek this blue-gray silt forms the bed of the creek 
for a considerable distance, and half a mile below Dalzell it is exposed on 
the right bank of the creek beneath 30 feet of till. The basal part of this 
section is shown in figure 24. A, blue-gray silt ; B, loess ; C, till. The 
number of shells in the silt beds on lower Spring Creek is marvellous. In 
it are also beds composed very largely of vegetable tissue, well preserved 
in many places. 

The Peru beds underlie the Bloomington till, which is the oldest till 
of the Wisconsin epoch, and by the manner of their distribution suggest 
the existence of a pre- Wisconsin drainage line along Illinois Valley below 
Peru. They have been found to within 50 feet of the bottom of the present 
valley and appear to agree roughly in distribution with the course of Illi- 
nois Valley. The weathered surface of the beds points to their deposition 
long before the coming of the Wisconsin ice. 

GRAVELS AT BUFFALO ROCK 

Buffalo Rock is separated from the northern bluff of the valley by an 
abandoned channel which once made of the rock an island in Illinois 
TJiver. This old channel is now followed by the Illinois and ]Michigan Canal. 
The present river is able to carry only fine sediment, mostly silt ; yet within 
this old channel there are extensive accumulations of sand and coarse 



96 



UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 



gravel. At the eastern end of the Rock, a gravel pit exposes a dozen feet 
of very coarse gravel. Just north of its western extremity, about 40 
feet above the present river level, a well was sunk through 44 feet of 
gravel and sand. These materials are exposed also at the west end of 
Buffalo Rock in the large gravel pit of the interurban railroad. The 
material is typical of very vigorous drainage, containing many ill-worn 
stones more than 6 inches in diameter. The last two epochs during which 
waters having a velocity sufficient to carry such stones flowed down the 
valley were the Marseilles stage and the end of the Ice Age, when Outlet 
River drained glacial Lake Michigan through this valley. But Outlet 
River flowed from a clear body of water, and hence was not laden heavily 
at the outset with sediment. From the known conditions of the Late 
Wisconsin valley train above this place, it can be concluded that this river 
did not excavate a great deal of glacial drift above here. It is not known 
to have left any appreciable deposits, but it is not impossible that beds of 




Fig. 34. — Eeconstruction of the buried channel of river in the Morris basin. 

gravel and sand 40 to 50 feet thick would have been deposited by a stream 
which eroded as actively as did this river. The likelier view is that these 
gravels came from the ice while its edge stood at the nearby Marseilles 
moraine, from which Avater is known to have carried away much coarse 
material. The channel in which the gravels lie is almost as low as the 
present river level. If these beds may be referred to the Marseilles stage, 
they indicate a minimum age for Illinois Valley similar to that suggested 
by the till in the valley above Ottawa and by the grooves between Ottawa 
and Buffalo Rock. 



BURIED CHANNEL OF THE ILLINOIS IN THE MORRIS BASIN 

In the Moi'ris basin a similar condition exists. Below the bridge on 
the ox-bow of lower Mazon Creek, the rock walls of that valley give place 
abruptly to gentle slopes of loose stratified drift. A section of 30 feet of 
this stratified material is here shown resting against the steep rock wall 



GLACIAL DRAINAGE HISTORY 



97 



of an older channel. This contact marks the place where the Mazon has 
cut through the old southern slope of the main valley of the Illinois and 
laid bare an aggraded glacial channel. The base of this section extends 
to within 10 feet of the present river level (fig. 34). At a point a quarter 
of a mile farther east a well records a section of 72 feet of sand and fine 
gravel. This would indicate a buried channel 20 feet lower than the present 
level of the river. For several miles to the Avest Avells have been sunk to 
river level through 50 feet of clear sand. North of the river, the presence 
of a buried channel is shown l)y a well I'ccord fi'om sec. 35, T. 34 N., R. 7. E. 







i^^^^ki 



_^;."-3j/r 










.- -iB-S^*!"*!?'. 



■•ri;»:.-^>y: !,--<>.'? :i^ 



i^^ 



'^>- 



Fig. 35. — "Waterlaid sediments of glacial age along Illinois Yallej' between Marseilles 
and Seneca. These beds consist mostly of sand and fine gravels overlain by till. 

(Saratoga). The top of the well has an elevation of 520 feet. The well 
is 50 feet deep and passes through sand and gravel only. The bottom of 
the Avell is at river level. Other sections on both sides of the river limit 
these sediments to a zone A\hich follows the valley closely. Their age is 
Late Wisconsin, and consequently the old river channel through the Morris 
basin dates from some earlier period. 



KICKAPOO BEDS 



On the sides of Illinois Valley between Marseilles and Seneca, are 
some of the largest gravel pits of the region ; some of them may be seen 
about halfway between the two places along the Rock Island Railroad 



98 UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 

(fig. 35). These pits belong to a series of stratified beds which are best 
developed north of the river, particularly about the mouth of North 
Kickapoo Creek. The most significant points about them are: 

1. Bistrihution. — They are confined closely to the valley. Deep 
ravines that extend back from the river on either side, show that these 
beds extend but a few hundred yards back from the main valley. 

2. Position heneatli till. — In the pits along North Kickapoo Creek, the 
gravels are overlain by 10 to 15 feet of Marseilles till. The stratified drift 
similarly is underlain by an older purplish till, probably of Bloomington 
age. 

3. Constitution of tlie heels. — In the various sections exposed 
practically every grade of sediment is shown, from fine silt to coarse gravel. 
The large gravel pits show mostly moderately coarse gravel and sand. 
Away from the river the material becomes finer. West of the large pits 
several gullies show a gradation of the material from sand to a fine silt 
that might pass for loess but for the occasional presence of small bowlders. 
The gravel is very fresh, shows glacial markings in many places, and was 
evidently buried by ice shortly after its deposition. 

4. Vertical distribution. — In the largest pit a section of about 70 feet 
of stratified material is exposed. This pit extends to within 40 feet of the 
river level. Half a mile west of Seneca, south of the river, bed rock has 
been reached in a similar pit only 20 feet above river level. 

The Kickapoo beds were deposited by a glacial ancestor of Illinois 
River during a period when the vigorous stream was supplied with 
abundant material from the melting ice front. On the margins of the 
stream, in shallow water, or in the slack water of side streams, beds of silt 
were laid down. The Kickapoo beds are another indication of the Wis- 
consin age of the upper Illinois, based on criteria similar to those discussed 
in the preceding cases. 

OTHER EVIDENCES 

The Valparaisio valley train extending down Illinois Valley records 
its existence at the time of the Valparaiso ice sheet. The gravel filling of 
Clark's Run at Utica gives similar evidence of an earlier date, as do the 
high-level gravels paralleling the stream below the Marseilles moraine. 
All these deposits are described in the latter part of this chapter. 

SUMMARY 

The evidence concerning the age of Illinois Valley is distributed from 
one end of the upper valley to the other. The first locality is in the Morris 
basin, others lie between Seneca and Marseilles, another above the 
confluence of the Fox and the Illinois, again below Ottawa, at Buffalo 
Rock, and finally between Peru and Spring Valley. The records do not 



GLACIAL DRAINAGE HISTORY 99 

all date back equally far. That at Peru is probably the oldest, but this 
part of the river's course has commonly been thought to be i)re-j^lacial, oi* 
at least early glacial. The grooves below Ottawa arc api)arently of pre- 
Marseilles age, similarly the till on the valley flat above Ottawa, and the 
Kickapoo beds. That at Morris is the youngest record. The cumulative 
evidence points to a valley but slightly shallower than it is at present, when 
the Wisconsin ice sheets were in the region. With Illinois Valley almost at 
its present depth in Wisconsin time, the erosion of the major part of the 
valley falls into the earlier part of the Ice Age. 

Early Wisconsin Period 

Probably after Illinois Valley had grown almost to its present size, it 
was overridden by the ice sheets of the Wisconsin glacial epoch. That part 
of the valley which was covered by the ice was modified both by glacial 
erosion and deposition, while the valley beyond the ice front served as a 
drain for the glacial water, and deposits made by them aggraded its 
bottom. 

filling of valley below marseilles 

(high-level gravels) 

The extent to which glacial gravels and sands are associated with the 
upper Illinois Valley indicates the importance of this drainage line during 
the Ice Age. As the ice advanced and retreated with its front more or 
less normal to the valley, it follows that unless completely aggraded this 
valley served as an important line of discharge for the waters issuing from 
the ice. The high-level gravels along the margin of the Illinois have 
recorded a part of this drainage history. Especially during the Marseilles 
stage waters issuing in great quantity from the ice front flowed down the 
valley. The size of the Marseilles moraine indicates a very considerable 
halt of the ice front, and the discharge of an immense quantity of sediment- 
laden water. In this valley, waters from the Marseilles ice front were 
probably the largest single factor in forming the most extensive beds of 
stratified material in the upper valley. Deposition seems to have continued 
until the glacial valley was almost obliterated, and the glacial stream flowed 
in a broad shallow trough, almost at the level of the prairie. This stratified 
deposit has been greatly dissected by subsequent erosion and no longer 
forms a continuous bed. But even before the ice front had receded to the 
^larseilles position, glacial waters flowed down the western portion of the 
upper valley and also down the tributaries and caused the deposition of a 
part of the surface gravels now found at high levels along the valleys. 
Remnants, however, are sufficiently numerous that their correlation may 



100 



UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 



be attempted. A typical section of these gravels is shown in figure 36. 
These gravels were deposited in several situations : 




Fig. 36. — Gravel pit in "high-level" gravels south of Illinois Eiver opposite Spring 
Valley. 

1. Gravels marginal to tlie ice front. — North of the Illinois, Fox River 
is marginal to the Marseilles moraine. The valley of the Fox has little 
stratified drift. The drift in this section is distributed as largely over the 
prairie between Ottawa and Dayton as within the valley proper. The 
gravels are high above the valley bottom and indicate that the valley in 
which they were deposited was much shallower than the present valley, 
which has been cut chiefly since the Marseilles stage. In the recent cutting 
of Fox Valley, most of the stratified drift left by waters from the Marseilles 
ice front was destroyed. 

Along the western base of the Marseilles moraine and south of the 
Illinois, gravel is common at least as far south as the headwaters of Covel 
C'reek. The beds were here laid down upon the flat prairie, and average from 
2 to 10 feet thick. In the valley of Covel Creek arc only a few shallow beds 
of sand and gravel. It appears that this valley also was developed 
subsequently to the deposition of the outvv^ash from the Marseilles moraine. 
On both sides of the river the gravels lap up only for a short distance on 
the western front of the moraine. The quantity of outwash flanking the 
moraine is not great, due probably to the lack of adequate arainage lines 
parallel to its front, and the water spread in a broad sheet over the flat 
prairie. 



GLACIAL DRAINAGE HISTORY 101 

2. Graveh along Illinois Valley. — In spite of its partial filiinj^, Illinois 
Valley fui-nishcd probal^ly at various times in the latter part of the lee Af?e 
a great drainage line from the ice fi-oiil, ;ind down it were discharged 
chiefly the glacial waters with their great loads of sediment. As the bottom 
of tlic valley widened, and its grade» lessened downstream, the velocity of 
the watei" was lediiced, and the deposition of large quantities of sand and 
gravel rcijulted. These beds now constitute the "high-level" gravels mar- 
ginal to the Illinois. Their chief charactei-istics are as follows: (1) They 
may hv traced down the valley at least as far as the Hennepin flat. Their 
ui)per limit is the western front of the Marseilles moraine. This distri- 
bution points to the Marseilles moraine as at least their partial source. (2) 
The beds consist almost entirely of gravel, much of which is too coarse to 
be used for ordinary purposes. Silt is almost entirely lacking, and the 
sand is coarse. The size of the materials indicates a stream with the 
velocity of a torrent. (3) A striking characteristic is the grittiness of both 
sand and gravel. The drift washed out from the ice front was exposed to 
the action of water only long enough to be sorted into beds of different 
texture. The materials show but slightly the effect of wear by water and 
retain, on the whole, the form which they had received in the ice. The 
stones are subangular and have polished, flattened, and even striated sides. 
The sand is angular and of plaster grade. (4) The surface of the beds 
declines gently downstream. From the front of the moraine above Ottawa 
to Hennepin the decline is not more than 20 feet. The altitude of their 
surface at Ottawa is somewhat more than 600 feet above tide, and at Hen- 
nepin about 580 feet. This makes a surface slope of less than 8 inches to 
the mile. The position of the tops of the gravel beds approximately at the 
general level of the upland indicates that filling continued until the valley 
was virtually obliterated. The gentle slope of the surface of the beds points 
to their nearby origin. (5) The floor upon which they rest descends 
downstream much more rapidly. Above Ottawa the base of the gravel has 
an elevation between 530 to 550 feet, and at Spring Valley 480 feet or less. 
The amount of filling, therefore, increases greatly downstream. At Ottawa 
the filling amounts to about 50 feet ; at Spring Valley to more than 100 feet. 

The most prominent deposits of these gravels are distributed as 
follows: (1) In the w^est part of Rutland Township, and south of the 
river in the west part of Fall River Township. In the former they 
constitute a small flat which rises more than 100 feet above the river. In 
the latter, they are near the top of the valley side, generally not less than 
80 feet above the river. (2) In the extreme northwestern corner of North 
Ottawa Township a prominent, isolated gravel knoll, lying between the Fox 
and the Illinois rivers, shows good sections of these gravels. (3) In South 
Ottawa Township they underlie the northern half of the southern ward. 
(4) They are exposed to a depth of 50 feet two miles below the Ottawa 



102 



UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 



bridge. They are horizontally bedded, and their base is at least 70 feet 
above the present river level. 

Figure 37 shows the top of a pit in the St. Peter sandstone, a mile 
and a half east of Utiea opposite Starved Eock. This illustration shows 
the filling of an old stream bed 160 feet above the present river level, almost 
up to the level of the riverward margin of the prairie. The section shows: 

3. Upland clay, 4 feet. 

2. Coarse, well-bedded, and well-sorted gravels. 
1. Water-smoothed surface of the St. Peter sandstone, containing 
irregular channels in which the gravels lie. 




Fig. 37.— Surface of valley bluff between Ottawa and Utica. The elevation is 
about 150 feet above the present river level. The surface of the rock has been smoothed 
by running water. 

From Utica to the eastern line of Utica Township are a series of gravel 
pits, about 20 to 25 feet deep, distributed along the valley bluffs. South of 
the river above Utica gravel beds are less common, but there is one on the 
bluff east of the mouth of Horseshoe Canyon. 

In the La Salle region the gravel beds are on both sides of the valley, 
their surfaces as much as 150 feet above river level, and their bottoms 
within 40 feet of the river. The gravels are mostly on the south side of 
the valley. Figure 36 shows a section across the river from Spring Valley. 



GLACIAL DRAINAGE HISTORY 103 

To the west, they merge into the gravel flat at ITeniiepin, below the great 
bend. 

3. Gravel filling of flic lower frihuhiries. — Pi-actically every tributary 
of the Illinois below the Marseilles moraine, and particnlarly below Covel 
(h'cek, shows generous gravel filling avcU above the present level of the 
streams. 

In the valley of Clark's Run, these high-level gravels extend upstream 
more than a mile from the Illinois bluffs. The filling of this tributary 
corresponds to the filling of the main valley. Clark's E-un shows that at 
the time its valley was filled, it had at least two-thirds of its present depth, 
and four-fifths of its present length. Perhaps the comparison of the lower 
mile of its canyon course, cut in "Wisconsin time or earlier, with the quarter 
mile above cut since, affords a rough means of estimating the age of upper 
Illinois Valley. 

The road north from Utica crosses a small gravel flat, almost at the 
top of the valley of Clark's Run. This flat is at the cemetery and lies just 
below the level of the prairie. Upstream sands and gravels mantle the older 
valley slopes of St. Peter sandstone, as shown in figure 38. Here is a bed 
of sand 30 feet thick, which extends from the level of the prairie to within 
25 feet of the creek bed. These gravels lie hard against a sheer I'ock wall 
of which about 25 feet have been exposed in a ravine west of the creek. 
This rock wall marks the head of the canyon at the time it was filled. 
Below this point the nearly vertical walls of the run are faced by glacial 
sands and gravel. Above, to the head of the canyon, the walls of the newly 
cut, unfilled canyon, are bare, except for a little sand which has slumped 
down as a result of the Aveathering of the St. Peter sandstone. 

In the valleys of the Vermilion rivers is no recognizable limit of filling 
upstream. On the Little Vermilion, gravel beds lie near the top of the 
present valley as far up as the limits of the region covered by this report. 
In its lower course, the Little Vermilion shows gravel filling on a large 
scale, chiefly on the east side of the valley. The base of these beds is about 
80 feet above the present valley bottom. They are about 30 feet thick and 
extend upward practically to the level of the upland, or almost to 600 feet. 
In the limestone gorge of the stream, gravel beds are lacking entirely ; but 
farther up, beds of gravel 5 to 10 feet thick cap the slopes of the valley for 
miles. These latter, however, may belong to a different series. 

The gravels are developed particularly between the German-American 
Cement Works and a point some distance above Kinder 's gravel pit 
(opposite Fifteenth Street). 



104 



UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 



Thickness 
Feet 

5. Clay silt, with a few gravel stones 5 

4. Gravel, fairly coarse, southward (riverward) dip 5 

3. Sand, mostly cross bedded, in places gives way to gravel 30 

2. Ill-defined material, probably waterworn 8-10 

1. Limestone 70 



Falls 



Upper limit of sand filling 



X- 



m 



(i!: 




UTICA 

Fig. 38.- — Sketch map showing distribution of sands and gravels in valley of Clark 's Eun. 



This section shows particularly: (1) deposition in a shallow valley; 
(2) almost complete obliteration of this valley by filling; and (3) delta 
bedding, probably controlled by Illinois River. 

The Big Vermilion shows similar gravel beds rising along the lower 
course of the river to the 600-foot contour line as a maximum elevation, 
but rising upsti-eam to higher levels. The largest l)eds of gravel on the 
lower Big Vermilion are at Mcrtel's, about two miles below Lowell. Other 
beds are on the east side of the river, opposite the plant of the Chicago 
Portland Cement mill. 



GLACIAL DRAINAGE HISTORY 



105 



The filling of the tributaries reaches its greatest development below 
La Salle. These high-level gravels abound in all the tri])utaries between 
Peru and Spring Valley and along Negro Crock, but are found in greatest 
quantity in the valleys of Cedar and Spring creeks. From their headwatei's 
down almost to their mouths, many of the slopes of these valleys are faced 
with gravels which rise from an upper limit of 580 feet above tide near 
Illinois Valley to more than G20 feet on the headwaters of the creeks. On 
lower Spring Creek the thickness of the gravel reaches almost 100 feet; 
four miles upstream at Heglcr, the thickness is less than 20 feet. p]xcollent 
sections, typical of the gravels in the tributaries, are exposed opjiosite 
Spring Valley on the east side of the creek, particularly near the Burlington 




Fig. o9. — Clay l)alls in the "high-level" gravels. 



station. The material is mostly very coarse. Subangular and striated stones 
are almost as common here as in the till. Although the material was not 
handled long enough by the streams to show much water wear, it was 
sorted thoroughly and is well bedded. 

An interesting feature to be seen in the gravel of most of the tributaries 
consists in the so-called "clay balls." These ai'e pieces of till rounded by 
being rolled by water. They seem to have formed only in very rapid streams 
and preserved only where speedily covered by other deposits. A vigorous 
stream, undercutting a frozen till bank, would be especially likely to shape 
these fragments of till into rounded balls, and then to bury them in the 
drift which it carried down its course. This feature is illustrated in 
figure 39 taken from the first ravine west of Cedar Creek, near the head 
of the ravine. 



106 UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 

On Spring Creek near the top of the large gravel sections across from 
Spring Valley, is a peculiar bed of silt about two feet thick. This bed lies 
upon coarse gravel and under a thin layer of sand and gravel. It reappears 
as a gray band near the top of almost every one of the numerous sections 
on Spring Creek, similarly on Cedar Creek, and on both of the Vermilion 
rivers. In all these places its character is the same, and it is found in the 
same relative position in the section, within 5 to 10 feet of the top of the 
gravel. It is the only bed of silt known in the Marseilles series. It thus 
forms a convenient means of correlating the gravel beds along the lower 
tributaries. The silt records a sudden checking of the current of the 
Illinois, by which the tributaries were correspondingly ponded and were 
changed from violent streams which had busied themselves with the shifting 
of gravels, to sluggish waters that formed a layer of fine mud upon their 
floors. 

The various tributaries show a remarkable uniformity of conditions 
of their marginal high-level gravels. The material in all of them is chiefly 
coarse, ill-worn gravel, and the beds have a continuous surface slope that 
joins the surface of the Marseilles beds of the main valley. The position 
of the beds is also similar to that observed in the main valley. They are 
clearly considerably younger than the drift which they overlie. As the 
gravels along the Illinois extend back to the Marseilles moraine, and as these 
beds along the tributaries show relationship to Illinois Valley in their 
persistent silt bed, the delta bedding, continuity of slope, and general 
nature and position of the gravels, the conclusion is that they were formed 
in large part at the same period and in similar manner. Their flat sur- 
faces, coarseness and unworn condition point to their deposition near the 
ice front and not to the simultaneous filling of the valley from a distant 
moraine. The most likely explanation is that the ice receded gradually 
from its earlier position near Princeton, and filled as it receded the adja- 
cent portion of the Illinois and tributaries. The filling of the upper valley 
was completed during the building of the Marseilles moraine. 

The later scouring out of the main valley by the outlet river left the 
tributaries practically untouched, so that probably a better record of the 
filling of the valley during the Marseilles stage is found in the gravel beds 
of the tributaries than in those of Illinois River. 

A side light on the age of Illinois Valley is given by tills tributary 
filling. The existence of practically all of the valleys below Ottawa in 
pre-Marseilles times, and of some of them, as Clark's Run, Spring Creek, 
and Cedar Creek, with almost their present length and depth, dwarfs the 
amount of erosion which has been accomplished since and suggests that 
most of the excavation of the tributary valleys, as well as of the Illinois, 
antedates the Marseilles stage. 



GLACIAL DRAINAGE HISTORY 107 

HENNEPIN FLAT AND SEDIMENTS IN VALLEY OF BUREAU CREEK 

Lying in the " Great Bend" of the Illinois, centered about Hennepin, 
arc vast deposits of sand and gravel, forming the Hennepin flat, which 
lies south and east of the river. It is two miles wide in places and six 
miles in length. The surface of tlie flat is about 150 feet above the river 
level. Al)out jMoronts the l)ottom of the sand and gravel is at least 40 feet 
])elow the present bottom of the valley. To the west, about Bureau Junction, 
the stratified beds arc reported to a depth 100 feet below the river, thus 
making tlieir entire thickness at this point 200 to 250 feet. Illinois Kiver 
has excavated its present course near the western margin of the older 
pre-glacial valley with its deep filling of stratified drift. For this reason 
only remnants of this great deposit of sand and gravel are preserved west 
of the rivei- and these remnants are along the bluffs of the valley. Almost 
anywhere on the Hennepin flat, great sections of soft, sliding sand or beds 
of gravel may be seen. Within this area the roads are hea\y in many places 
because of the deep sand. Crops often burn out from the effects of the 
summer heat on the sandy soil, which becomes parched readily. Along the 
small valleys in the Hennepin country, wind-shifted sand is here and there 
destroying a field or pasture, and in some places wash from sandy gulleys 
may be seen to have overspread fields of grain. 

The materials of the Hennepin flat are, on the whole, considerably 
finer than those of the "high-level" gravels of the upper valley. Coarse 
gravels are found in the Hennepin beds, but they are not common, and 
beds of sand predominate greatly. The stones of the gravel do not as a 
rule show striae and glaciated surfaces, but are notably rounded by Avater. 
The gravel commonly has the appearance of stream pebbles rather than 
that of glaciated stones, and the sand grains are similarly smoothed and 
rounded. Because of greater wear by vrater, these beds lack the desirable 
grittiness (angularity of grain) of the beds farther upstream. It is not 
probable that the sands and gi-avels in the Hennepin flats are all deposits 
from one ice front, but they may be accounted for in the following manner : 
1. Age of lower beds. — The lower beds of sand and gravel are in all 
likelihood much older than the upper x>arts of the Hennepin flat. The 
stratified drift in Illinois Valley below the "Great Bend" lies in the great 
pre-glacial channel down which flowed the waters from melting ice fronts, 
perhaps even from the beginning of the Ice Age. In the buried course of 
this pre-glacial valley north of the bend, great accumulations of sand and 
gravel of pre-Wisconsin age can be traced for many miles beneath the 
surface till. All the deep wells that have been l)orcd into this buried 
depression record remarkable thicknesses of stratified drift beneath thick 
bowlder clav.^ It is almost certain, therefore, that these older beds of 



'Leverett. Frank. U. S. Geological Survey Mon. 38, pp. 631-633. 



108 UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 

gravel and sand persist below the "Great Bend" in the old river valley. 

2. Stratified drift on Bureau Creek. — A part of the sand and gravel 
which was built into the Hennepin flat was furnished by the ice front which 
made the moraine north of Depue. The principal line of discharge down 
which the drainage from this ice was swept was probably the depression 
now occupied by East Bureau Creek with its tributary, Brush Creek. The 
valleys of both these creeks contain great quantities of stratified drift. 
This drift covers the slopes and extends considerably beloAv the bottoms of 
the valleys. On lower Brush Creek, which has its source in the moraine, 
the gravels form a flat along the western flank of the moraine. In several 
places, as shown in the following section, these beds are interstratified 
with till at the margin of the moraine, thus establishing their origin at this 
source. 

Section on high flat, just helow the 'Ridge School, in gravel pit east of the road 

Thickness 
Feet 
4. Till, several feet at top of section 

3. Fine gravel with much sand ) 

^ ' 35 



2. Loamy gravel, poorly assorted. 
1. Till 



I 



With one or two exceptions, all the stratified drift on Bureau Creek 
and its tributaries consists of rather fine material, in which sand 
predominates over gravel. Large beds of silt are also common. 

This source of outwash, close at hand, contributes to the Hennepin 
area. That this source, however, furnished material to any great extent, 
appears unlikely, for (1) the Hennepin flat extends some distance to the 
east of the mouth of Bureau C*reek, and well across the moraine at Depue, 
too far upstream to have been built in its entirety by outwash discharged 
from Bureau Creek into the A^alley of the Illinois. (2) The materials of 
the Hennepin flat are, on the whole, considerably coarser than those along 
Bureau Creek. Silt and fine sand are the most abundant sediments on 
Bureau Creek, whereas the Hennepin fiat is composed mostly of fine gravel 
and medium sand. In a stream fiowing on an aggraded bed, the ability to 
carry coarse material decreases downstream, and sediments become 
correspondingly finer. Finer sediments on Bui'cau Creek and coarser 
sediments below in Illinois Valley may point rather to a filling of the 
Illinois, which ponded the valley of Bureau Creek, and caused the deposi- 
tion of finer sediments in its retarded waters. Some of the sands in Bureau 
Valley may well have been deposited in this fashion. 

3. Correlation u'itli "high level" gravels. — The position of the high- 
level gravels from Marseilles down to the "Great Bend" of the river, and 
the similarity of these gravels to the Hennejnn beds, point to the Marseilles 



GLACIAL DRAINAGE HISTORY 109 

ice front and the cai'lioi- ice front to the west as the main sources of the 
materials found in the Hennepin flat. Tlie cliain of evidence leads back 
from Hennepin and Dei)ne to the valley l)]uffs at Negro Creek and Spring 
Creek, and thence through the long series of liigh-level gravel l)eds, which 
have been discussed, to the moraine at Marseilles. The material of the 
Hennepin flat is appropriately finer than the gravels upstream as would 
be expected of the lessening current downstream. Hs waterworn forms be- 
speak a somewhat distant origin. The great size of the Hennepin flat is 
explained by the sudden widening of the river valley, which permitted the 
waters to spread out over a broader surface and caused them to become 
shallower and lose in velocity. As a result they dropped most of the load 
Avhich they had carried. 

PONDING OF MORRIS BASIN 

After the ice withdrew, the Marseilles moraine served as a temporary 
dam for the waters which collected in the valley above it. A lake was thus 
formed in the Morris basin, in which the bluish-drab lake clays, mentioned 
in the preceding chapter, were deposited. These clays lie directly upon the 
older Wisconsin till and are in turn covered usually by thin till of Late 
Wisconsin age. The clays are 25 feet thick in many places and indicate a 
rather long-continued ponding of the valley. The ]\Iarseilles dam, how- 
ever, was eroded through before the next advance of the ice, as the sedi- 
ments deposited by the waters which flowed from the last ice sheet show 
active drainage down the valley. 

Late Wisconsin Fluvio-glacial Deposits 
valley train 

The last great sedimentation in the valley was by waters which flowed 
from the Late Wisconsin ice front. The Morris basin was aggraded heavily 
by outwash from the ice while its edge stood at the :\Iinooka ridge and 
later along the Valparaiso moraine. The discharge of the melting waters 
from this ice sheet was down Illinois Valley, and the sediment-laden stream 
built a broad alluvial flat which slopes gently downstream. Such a flat 
built within a valley is known as a valley train. It is rather broad and 
low here with an indefinite extension downstream, but probably no longer 
recognizable at INIarseillcs. In the IMorris basin the material of the valley 
train is about 50 to 60 feet thick, at Seneca about 40 feet, and below the 
latter place it thins out rapidly. In cross-section it forms a wedge of sand 
and gravel. Its blunt end lies against the moraine, and its thin edge dis- 
appears in the vicinity of jNIarseilles. 

In a few places, as on the lower courses of Bill 's Eun and :\Iazon Creek, 
the sands of the valley train may be seen in cross-section. Here they fill 



110 UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 

the older valley, resting against its sides. The sediments are mostly coarse 
sands and fine gravel, with an occasional bit of coarser gravel. Upstream 
the material grows coarser, and sand gives way to gravel generally. Above 
the Morris basin the valley train is represented chiefly by beds of gravel, 
which becomes very coarse as the Valparaiso moraine is approached. The 
materials of the valley train show greater wear by water in the Morris basin 
and below it than they do above. 

SAND RIDGES 

On both sides of the valley train in the Morris basin are low ridges of 
sand and gravel which lie at some distance from the river. Near the 
Minooka ridge these sand ridges arc about 8 miles apart, but downstream 
they converge so that they are but 2 miles apart at Stockdale. The area 
between them is covered entirely by the valley train. These ridges, marginal 
to the valley train, persist throughout the length of the Morris basin. The 
one north of the river extends northeastward from Stockdale to the base 
of the moraine below Minooka ; it is followed in part by the so-called ' ' Kidge 
Road," from Morris to Minooka. At Sand Ridge, the ridge turns south 
along the base of the Minooka morainic ridge. South of the river, it 
extends almost due east from a point li/o miles above the mouth of 
Waupecan Creek and passes out of this region 11/2 miles south of Goose 
Lake. A generalized cross-section of these ridges is shown in figure 40. 



_~7F^lri: 


•.•!^\Lake 






■like expansion 


of river 









Fig. 40. — Diagrammatic cross-section of a typical beach ridge of the Morris basin. 

In many places they show a belt of coarse bowlders along their riverward 
base. The ridges themselves are generally of coarser material than the rest 
of the valley train. Their longer slopes face the valley, above which they 
rise commonly about 20 feet. The crest is generally only from 5 to 8 
feet higher than the level of the land behind the ridge. 

At first sight they appear to be beach ridges, marginal to an extinct 
lake. The coarse sand and fine gravel which compose the valley train 
between the ridges, however, give no evidence of a lake at this time. Nor 
does the downstream slope of its surface permit any conclusion other than 
that we have here a stream-built flat and not the level floor of a lake. The 



GLACIAL DRAINAGE HISTORY 111 

sediment in the center of the flat is not markedly finer than that along its 
margins, as would be the ease if it had been deposited in still waters. The 
sediments witliin the basin vary greatly and irregularly within short 
distances; one field may be sandy, the next quite gravelly; the land is said 
to "lie in strij)s. " All these characteristics arc features of river deposition 
and not of lake work. Rivei's ordinarily do not build marginal ridges 
other than levees, but in the peculiar conditions of the Morris basin they 
may have done so. The broad, flat basin was sharply constricted below, 
and a i)artial ])onding of the glacial outwash in the Morris basin resulted. 
The ridges indicate a width of the stream varying from 5 to 8 miles above 
Morris and a gradual narrowing to II/2 miles at Seneca. Above Seneca the 
glacial river was very much like a lake. The slopes of the land on both 
sides of the river were likewise low, so that the water was well exposed to 
the sweep of winds from all sides. Large waves could therefore be set up, 
which were unopposed by any considera1)le current, and which, in breaking 
against the banks of the river, could build the low ridges that mark its 
margins. 

HISTORY OF THE AGGRADATION 

The source of the material of the valley train was the ice front at 
]\[iiiooka and later that at Valparaiso. The valley of Au Sable Creek, 
which is marginal to the front of the Minooka ridge, has beds of sand and 
gravel, at least as far north as the Kendall County line. Generally these 
sedimentary deposits along the western base of the moraine are only a few 
feet thick, but a few beds are of considerable thickness. A knoll of sand 
and fairly coarse gravel lying just west of the Au Sable, above the mouth 
of Wallace's Run, contains about 30 feet of sand and gravel over till. 
Another large knoll of sand lies well up on the flank of the moraine, two 
miles due west of Minooka, shoAving a section of 30 feet of sand and coarse 
silt. These knolls of gravel were probably deposited at the ice front and 
are known as kames. The western flank of the Minooka Ridge is rather 
sandy in its lower slopes, and the soil is a sandy loam, wdiereas that on the 
jNIinooka ridge is clay. The beds of sand that lie against the Minooka ridge 
link the valley train of the Morris basin with the IMinooka ice front. 

Only a small part of the outwash, however, seems to have had its 
origin at ]Minooka. Beyond the head of the Illinois, a broad belt of sand 
and gravel reaches from the southern end of the JNIinooka ridge to a point 
a mile south of Goose Lake. These beds extend eastward to the Valparaiso 
moraine, east of the junction of the Kankakee and Desplaines rivers. They 
flank the w^estern slope of this moraine for many miles north and south. 
In Desplaines Valley, and particularly in Dupage Valley, gravels are spread 
over considerable areas. In these valleys the outwash has two especially 
noteworthy features: (1) It becomes decidedly coarser upstream, gravels 
taking the place almost entirely of sand and silt, and (2) the surface of 



112 



UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 



the beds rises rapidly upstream. In the Morris basin, the surface of the 
valley train is at about 530 to 540 feet about tide; about Channahon, at 
the mouth of the Dupage, it is more than 570 feet. Figure 41 shows a 
section of these gravels half a mile east of Channahon, on the divide between 
the Dupage and the Desplaines rivers. Practically the entire area between 
the lower courses of these rivers is covered with these gravels. The country 
about Channahon is as tj^pically a gravel country as that about Morris is 




Fig. 41. — Recent fluvio-glacial gravels east of Channahou on the divide between the 
Dupage and Desplaines valleys. 

a sandy region. East of the Desplaines, at Drummond, a large isolated 
knoll shows conspicuously bedded gravels on the smoothed rock surface; 
this knoll lies at the very base of the Valparaiso moraine, and connects the 
valley train at this point with the Valparaiso moraine. These gravel beds 
extend up Desplaines Valley beyond Joliet and Lockport. Here the eleva- 
tion of their surfaces is well above 600 feet, and the material is very coarse 
and ill-worn.^ 

TRIBUTARY FILLING 

While the upper Illinois was being aggraded by outwash from the 
Late Wisconsin ice, its tributaries were ponded by the swollen main 



^Goldthwaite, Illinois Geol. Survey Bull. 11, pp. 49-52. 



GLACIAL DRAINAGE HISTORY 113 

stream and partially filled. Tributary valley fillings are a persistent 
feature throughout the Morris basin. The main stream had a sluggish 
current and deposited sands chiefly; the retarded tributaries, correspond- 
ingly, filled in their valleys with silt. Nettle Creek Valley was aggi-aded at 
least 40 feet in its lower and middle course. Its valley is still heavily filled, 
the post-glacial stream having merely re-excavated a channel to about the 
depth of the former channel. Mazon Creek shows also valley filling, and 
its slopes are heavily mantled with silt. 

CONCENTRATION OF BOW^LDERS 

Bowlders are found in only a few places in the Morris flat. They are 
rather abundant (1) at the base of the ridges marginal to the valley train, 
and (2) near the head of the Illinois, especially west of the tracks of the 
Elgin, Jolict, and Eastern Railroad. The coarse material along the former 
margins of the river may have been left by undercutting of its bank, in 
which the finer material was washed away, or waves may have helped to 
roll them up from the floor of the river, or ice blocks may have become 
stranded on the banks and dropped their bowlders as they melted. At the 
head of the Illinois the waters which swept down from the steeper slopes 
above spread out over the broad, shallow Morris basin, and ice blocks which 
were carried down may have become grounded with their load of bowlders. 
Much of the coarse material at the head of the Illinois probably has come 
from the erosion of the southern end of the Minooka ridge by the Outlet 
River. 

SUMMARY 

The extension of the late Wisconsin ice to Minooka, and more 
especially its halt along the Valparaiso moraine, was accompanied by a 
great outflow of debris-laden waters from the ice front. These flowed 
through depressions marginal to the ice, as Au Sable Valley, and later 
reached the valley of the Illinois itself. Gravels were deposited above 
Channahon, sand and gravel in the Morris flat. Below Seneca the valley 
train plays out gradually. Sections of sand of 70 feet and over and heavily 
aggraded tributaries record the great extent of deposition in the Morris 
basin during this stage. Because of its lesser age, the record is much less 
obscured than that of the older drainage of the western part of the valley. 

Outlet River 

After the building of the Valparaiso moraine, the ice retreated 
gradually northward and northeastward, rallying once, and finally with- 
drawing completely from the region. As the ice melted back from the 
Valparaiso moraine, its waters no longer found free drainage down Illinois 



114 UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 

Valley, but were ponded behind this great till ridge and other deposits of 
till to the north. The lake thus formed is known as Lake Chicago, ancestor 
of the present Lake Michigan. The ponded Avaters rose gradually until 
they overflowed depressions in the retaining wall of drift above Lemont, 
and eroded the outlet which they had discovered. For a long time the 
glacial lake drained westward into the valley now occupied by the 
Desplaines, and thence into the Illinois, by means of this so-called Outlet 
Eiver. 

Locally, erosion by Outlet Eiver was not great. The glacial stream 
inherited a valley, whose rock floor appears to have been essentially as deep 
as at present, but which had been aggraded considerably by outwash from 
the Valparaiso moraine. Outlet River may have lowered the valley from 
the 40-foot terrace, which is common to most parts of the upper valley, to 
the present level of its channel. In the IMorris basin this terrace is ill- 
defined, but is probably represented by the level of the surface of the late 
Wisconsin valley train. Farther down the valley, at least as far as the 
western limits of the area, is a terrace at about the same level, on rock, 
covered with sand or gravel, and interrupted occasionally by old stream 
channels. This 40-foot terrace may have been developed by aggradation by 
Minooka- Valparaiso outwash, and by side cutting of its meandering stream. 
There is no reason to believe that Outlet River did more than lower the 
valley of the Illinois from the 40-foot terrace, and it may have done 
considerably less. The greatest part of its work has consisted certainly in 
clearing out the Late Wisconsin valley train, and even of this it has left 
the greater part untouched. Although a great volume of water swept down 
the Illinois from glacial Lake Chicago, it may not have been of much greater 
volume than the glacial streams issuing at other periods from various ice 
fronts which were thrown across the valley and discharged their outwash 
down the Illinois. Outlet River was one of the last brief phenomena of the 
rapidly dying period of glaciation, and its role in upper Illinois Valley was 
not of the order of importance which has generally been ascribed to it. 

In its continued retreat northward, the ice uncovered several lines of 
discharge for the lakes at its margins lower than that taken by Outlet 
River. One of these was the Mohawk depression in New York, now followed 
by the Erie Canal. Later the present valley of the St. Lawrence was uncov- 
ered. Thus the outflow was diverted from Illinois Valley, and modern Illi- 
nois River was formed by the collected run-off of the intermorainic troughs 
of the Late Wisconsin drift, namely the valleys of the Kankakee, Desplaines, 
and Dupage rivers. Recently, man has re-established the old drainage line 
by cutting the Chicago Ship and Drainage Canal through the low divide, 
so that Avater from Lake Michigan again floAvs into the Illinois, and thence 
into the Mississippi. Interesting estimates have been made, AAdiich show 



GLACIAL DRAINAGE HISTORY II5 

that, with a continuation of the upwarping of the northeastern part of our 
continent, now going on, the western Grea! Lakes may be cut off from their 
eastern drainage line in the course of several thousand years and may 
discharge again through their abandoned glacial channel into Illinois River. 



CHAPTER VI— PRESENT ACTIVE PHYSIOGRAPHIC PROCESSES 

"Work of Wind 

characteristics of deposit 

Strong winds are able to shift about much sand and dust, especially if 
there is no protecting cover of vegetation. Immediately after the close of 
the Ice Age, before vegetation has established itself upon the surface of the 
drift, the wind was peculiarly effective in forming loess or dust deposits, 
and sand dunes. Recently, since the general cultivation of the land, the 
soil particles have again been exposed extensively to the sweep of the 
winds, with the result that much dust is again blown about in dry weather. 
Wind-made deposits show no definite limits, either vertically or horizontally, 
nor is there commonly any regularity in their thicknesses. 

MAKING OF DUNES 

Mention was made in the preceding chapter of the great deposits of 
sand, silt, and gravel which formed in Illinois Valley during the Ice Age. 
Sand and silt predominated especially about Hennepin and in the Morris 
basin, and in these two sections the wind found an exceptionally favorable 
field for activity. Where sand was exposed abundantly at the surface, and 
the wind had an effective sweep, dunes were formed near the source of 
supply. At greater distances the wind spread out thin deposits of sand 
in irregular sheets. 

About Hennepin the wind (1) piled up much sand into dunes on the 
fiat, and (2) spread a veneer of sand over the upland to the east of the 
fiat. Both features are well shown about Moronts, which lies on the 
border between the flat and the till upland. There are numerous dunes 
on the flat, and on the margin of the prairie sand is heaped into small dunes 
three to five feet high. Eastward, the sand becomes thinner and grades 
into buff, sandy loess. This sand- and loess-covered belt of prairie marginal 
to the Hennepin fiat is about three miles wide. The gradation from coarse 
dune sand near the flat to fine loess on its eastern margin is regular, and is 
an expression of the distance the material was carried. 

Upon Buffalo Rock near its western end, are several mounds of sand, 
10 to 15 feet high. In their present form, at least, the hills are wind made. 
Again, south of the river and west of Covel Creek are low rock-knobs upon 
the river terrace. The terrace has an almost universal cover of gravels 
and of very coarse sand. These knobs of rock, however, are veneered with 
sand which the wind spread over them and so gave to them the appearance 
of dunes. 

( U6 ) 



ACTIVE PHYSIOGRAPHIC PROCKSSES 117 

The most conspicuous sand hills of the region are in the Morris basin. 
Here an abundance of material was furnished l)y the fine outwash from the 
late Wisconsin ice. All along this part of the valley the sand of the valley 
train has been heaped into unstable hills, which creep out over fields or 
fill roads with sand, five to six inches deep. Of the many low knolls in the 
]\Iorris l)asin oidy a few, howcvci-, are dunes. Many are knolls of gravel 
or rofk that are mci'cly surfaced with sand. The largest dunes are those 
of Sand Eidge at the base of the IMinooka Ridge. Here are a number of 
elongated hills of loose yellow sand, which once formed part of the northern 
"beach ridge" of the Illinois. They are from 50 to 180 yards wide and 
extend in a curving and interrupted series for a mile on both sides of the 
Sand Ridge station. This wave-formed ridge was worked over gradually 
by the wind and heaped into a chain of hills, between which the wind 
scoured out the sand and thus interrupted its continuity. 

SHIFTING OF DUST 

Far more dust than sand is blown about by the wind, because the dust 
particles are smaller and expose a relatively greater surface to wind 
pressure. This phase of wind work is not nearly so apparent, however, 
Ijccause dust is moved so readily that it is not generally lodged in well- 
defined hca]is. Dust is on almost every dry surface and is carried by almost 
every air current. The u])land clay which overlies the drift in much of 
the region may be in part a wind deposit blowni up from the dried silts of 
the glacial outwash. It is also in part of subsequent accumulation, almost 
constant contributions having been made by the winds, particularly by the 
dry wands of spring and summer. The quantity of dust which winds may 
whirl over the prairie is well illustrated by almost any dry, windy day. 
Air currents may then be seen w^hipping up clouds of dust from the dry 
fields and sending them flying over the prairie surface, until the gust is 
spent or some obstruction catches the dust. 

Work of Ground Water 
springs and ^vells 

It is estimated that about half the rain w^hich falls on this country is 
evaporated and restored to the atmosphere; about one-third runs off; and 
the remainder sinks into the ground, there forming a subterranean reservoir 
known as the ground water. ^ The water which sinks beneath the surface is 
stored in the pore spaces in the rock or drift and flows under action of 
gravity, as surface water does, though far more slowly. Where the pore 
spaces are large, it moves more readily than where the texture is fine. 
Porous beds, if underlain by an impervious layer that does not allow^ the 

^McGee, W. J., Report National Conservation Commission, vol. 1, p. 39. 



118 UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 

water to pass through, become reservoirs for the surface water that seeps 
into them and are then called ''water veins." If a porous, water-filled 
bed outcrops on a slope, it may give rise to springs. 

South of Spring Valley springs are common on the slopes of Illinois 
Valley. Most of them are formed by gravel beds that overlie impervious 
"cement rock" (conglomerate formed by the cementation of glacial 
gravel). In many places in the till, patches or pockets of gravel furnish 
water ; most of the shallow wells of the prairie derive their supply from 
gravel lenses that lie beneath the surface. The depth of the wells varies 
greatly and irregularly, and is due to the irregular and discontinuous 
distribution of the lenses of gravel. In cuts stratified material which is 
interbedded with till may generally be distinguished at a distance by its 
moist surface. In the "Coal Measures," the porous sandstone beds furnish 
considerable water. The St. Peter sandstone has the Prairie du Chien lime- 
stone as an impervious base ; this combination makes the St. Peter sandstone 
the most important water-bearing formation of the region. 

The upper surface of the ground water (the water table) is generally 
some distance beneath the surface of the ground. Rains replenish the 
ground water. AVhen rains are heavy they may raise the level of the 
ground water nearly or quite to the surface of the ground. If the rain- 
fall is deficient, evaporation and seepage may cause the ground-water level 
to sink many feet. The more porous the soil, the more will the surface of 
the ground water vary. The stiff clay soil of this region retards evaporation 
and seepage so that in most places prairie wells no more than 20 feet deep 
do not go dry even in seasons of deficient rain. Similarly, most prairie-fed 
streams have a rather constant flow, being supplied by dependable springs 
wherever their channels are below the ground-water level. On the other 
hand, in the gravel country of Putnam and Bureau counties evaporation 
from the soil is much more rapid because of its high porosity, and the 
ground water nearly or quite to the surface of the ground. If the rain- 
Creek, Putnam County, is comparable in depth and width to most of the 
prairie streams, yet it is dry during the summer and fall, except after 
rains. Streams to the east that flow through till, although much smaller 
than this one, have permanent streams. 

Flowing wells are numerous in the lowlands of this region. Flowing 
water may be secured almost anywhere in the valleys of the Illinois and the 
Fox and generally in the Morris basin. Most of the artesion wells are 
drilled into the St. Peter sandstone, but flowing wells have been secured 
in every sufficiently porous formation underlying the region from the 
Potsdam to the "Coal Measures" sandstones. Any given formation lies 
considerably deeper west of the anticline than east of it, so that wells must 
be drilled deeper in the western region to reach water-bearing horizons. 



ACTIVE PHYSIOGRAPHIC PROCESSES 



119 



Shallow wells of strong flow are numerous in the eastern half of the valley, 
which is underlain at slight depths by the St. Peter sandstone. 

The water in an artesion well flows out under pressure similar to that 
of a stand-pipe. The water-bearing beds outcrop to the north over wide 
areas at considerably higher elevations. Great quantities of water are 
collected in these regions, especially in Wisconsin, and carried underground 
by the southward dip of the beds. The water moves down the dip, comes 
under constantly greater head, and Avhen released from this pressure flows 
forth with considerable force (fig. 42). 




Fig. 42. — Diagrammatic illustration of conditions favorable to artesian wells. 



SOLUTION AND REDEPOSITION 

Ground water is much more active chemically than the run-off. 
Ground water moves under pressure which increases its dissolving power, 
and it comes in contact with a greater area of rock surface in its 
interstitial wanderings than does surface water. It thus has excellent 
opportunities to take mineral matter into solution. It is especially active 
in leaching soluble materials from the surface zone. Among its most 
abundant constituents is lime carbonate, which may be leached out almost 
entirely from the upper two feet of tlie soil. The depth of leaching 
furnishes a means of estimating the relative lengths of time during which 
the surface tills have been exposed. About Minooka the calcium carbonate 
has been removed only to a slight extent; west of the Marseilles moraine 
the surface clay has been leached for several feet; farther south the tills 
of central and southern Illinois have been leached so deeply as to impair 
seriously the fertility of the soils. 

With increasing depth the waters become increasingly charged with 
mineral matter Avhich they have taken into solution. The water of the 
shallow wells is only moderately "hard;" the deeper wells of the region 
have highly mineralized waters. Those of the "Coal Measures" are 
generally salty or bitter, and those of the St. Peter sandstone are known 
favorably to health seekers for their charge of sulphureted hydrogen. 

The dissolved materials are commonly deposited again, either by 
evaporation as the water seeps to the surface, or by chemical precipitation 
which takes place where waters charged Avith different chemical compounds 
mingle, or when a decrease of pressure reduces the ability of the water to 



120 



UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 



hold material in solution. Ground water on evaporation at the surface may 
leave its mineral material behind in the form of an efflorescence. Figure 43 
shows an efflorescence of yellow and white clusters of a variety of salts. 
Till is tinged white in places by incrustations of calcium carbonate formed 
in the evaporation of its ground water. 

■Concretions are formed by ground water in the manner noted in 
Chapter III. The process is still going on in many places. Concretions 
may be seen forming, particularly in glacial clays, and also in various 



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Fig. 43.^ — Incrustation of various mineral salts on the surface of ' ' Coal Measures ' ' 
shales. Tlie salts are being deposited by the evaporation of the ground water as it 
seeps to the surface. 

glacial gravel beds. The high-level gravels show, in many places, concretions 
of iron carbonate, built up of thin concentric layers. The loess of the 
region, contrary to its general custom, carries few concretions. 

The "cement beds" found in the stratified drift are an excellent 
illustration of deposition by ground water. These beds are best developed 
in the "high-level" gravels (fig. 44) . They are most commonly found at the 
base of the gravel, but may constitute a scries of beds at various horizons 
in a gravel pit. The chief cementing material is calcium carbonate, derived 
by solution from the abundant limestone in the drift. Cementation has 
been so complete in many cases, that the conglomerate fractures across the 
pebbles instead of around them, thus showing that the cement is stronger 



ACTIVE PHYSIOGRAPHIC PR0CES8ES 



121 



than the materials cemented. Less common than conj^lomcrates arc sand- 
stones of post-glacial origin ; such beds arc found in the Hennepin region. 
Shales formed ])y the cementation of glacial silt, lie at the base of the Peru 
beds. These various cemented beds are at the contact of two beds of differ- 
ent textures ; this may be either at the contact of different beds of stratified 
drift, or at the contact of stratified drift and till. In any ease, the cementa- 
tion is due to a change in the circulation of the gi-onnd water, which caused 




Fig. 44. — Cemented gravels of glacial origin in u pit ^uiitb of JSpriug Valley. These 
' ' cement beds ' ' are common features of the glacial gravels of the region and are in 
many places very hard conglomerates. 

the deposition of part of the material in solution as a coating on the walls 
of its pore spaces, until they were gradually filled. 



Weathering 

Weathering is the slow, unobtrusive disintegration of rocks by the 
chemical action of air, by ground water, by changes of temperature, by 
plants, and other agents. The weathering of rock gives rise to soil, and 
also prepares the surface materials for erosion and transportation. The 
process is going on everywhere at the surface of the earth. On slopes the 
weathered material becomes lubricated by water from rains and creeps 
slowly down hill under the pull of gravity. Large masses that slide down 
suddenly are then said to have slumped; such slump masses are common 



122 



UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 



locally on all steep-sided till vallej's. Trees and bushes carried down in 
these miniature land slides are tilted and betray the occurrence of such a 
slide. By starting material on its way toward streams, creep and slump 
are early steps in erosion. 

In the weathering of firm rock certain characteristic features are 
developed. Most of the bowlders now exposed at the surface do not show 
striae or planed faces, although they were glaciated. The surface parts of 
exposed bowlders are generally scaling off, whereas the body of the rock 
remains undecomposed. This scaling off, or exfoliation, is due to the greater 




Fig. 45. — Igneous bowlder containing large crystals that have resisted weathering 
more successfully than the ground mass of the rock, and hence stand out in relief. 



heating of the exterior of the rock by day and its greater cooling by night. 
Expansion and contraction due to changes of temperature are greater in 
the outcrshell than within, strains are set up between the outer shell and 
the inner body, and exfoliation results. 

Some part of a given rock may weather more rapidly than the rest of 
it, so that an uneven surface will be developed by continued weathering. 
Illustrations of this are shown in figures 19 and 45. In the former, small 
veins stand out as ridges in the rock, because of their superior resistance 
to weathering ; in the latter, the large crystals stand out in relief from the 
ground mass of the rock for the same reason. 



ACTIVE PHYSIOGRAPHIC PROCESSES 



123 



Numerous other effects of weathering might be mentioned. It suffices 
to say, however, that all the obscure processes grouped together under this 
name, tend to increase gi'adually the quantity of the soil. 

Work of Streams 
development of valleys 

ORIGINAL POST-GLACIAL SURFACE 

The ice, especially by its deposits, destroyed most of the pre-glacial 
drainage lines and left an uneven surface marked by slight elevations with 




Fig. 46. — Very recent gully in pasture on Kickapoo Creek. 



intervening discontinuous depressions. Illinois Valley and most of its 
larger tributaries were in existence at the close of the Ice Age and have 
only been deepened since. The smaller valleys, however, are chiefly the 
product of post-glacial erosion. The steps in their formation are outlined 
below : 

growth of gullies 

In the first stages of its development a valley is called a gully. Such 
valleys in extreme youth may be seen almost anywhere in the region, 
especially on the slopes of the larger valleys. Figure 46 shows a gully 



124 



UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 



starting on a hillside pasture, and figure 47 shows a ravine (a gully 
growing up) of somewhat greater age. The latter tigure shows the steep 
slopes characteristic of ravines and young valleys, slopes commonly as 
steep as the material of which they are composed will allow. The V-shaped 
cross-section of young valleys is also well shown in this illustration. Other 
features which are characteristic of youthful valleys are great depth of 
valley relative to width, and steep grade of the channel. 




Fig. 47. — Cross-section of a young, V-shaped valley south of Marseilles. 



Gullies may develop on all land surfaces sufficiently elevated for 
erosion by running water. (1) If the land is slightly uneven, as most land 
is, any depression will collect more water than the surface about it, and 
if it has an outlet, it will be deepened by the running water. (2) At one 
place the soil or rock at the surface may be less resistant than at others, 
and consequently will erode more rapidly. (3) By the destruction of a 
protecting cover of vegetation the soil may be exposed to erosion. 
Apparently trifling causes may then lead to the development of destructive 
gullies. 

A gully once started is enlarged by the run-off of each successive 
shower; each enlargement causes it to gather more water, so that growth 



ACTIVE PHYSIOGRAPHIC PROCESSES 125 

once begun continues at an increasing rate. The bed of the gully is worn 
down more rapidly than its sides because more water flows over it. As long 
as the bed is lowered more i-apidly than the sides arc worn back, the valley 
remains stecpsided and narrow. While the sides are being worn back and 
the bed lowered, the head of the gully is also being cut back, and it is 
therefore lengthened. In its youth, a valley generally grows faster in 
length and depth than in width. 

When a gully has become more than a few rods long, or a few yards 
wide, it is commonly called a ravine. When its bed is lowered to the surface 
of the ground water, it no longer depends solely upon rains for water, but 
seepage from the ground water enters the valley and forms a more or less 
permanent stream. As the ravine grows, small gullies are started on its 
slopes, and so on until an endlessly branching drainage system is developed. 

As valleys which have had but short histories are called youthful, so 
a region which has been furrowed but slightly by valleys is said to have 
a youthful topography. This is the character of most of the prairie of this 
region, whose surface is essentially as it was left by the ice. Only a few 
streams have notched its surface, and the upper courses of most of the 
streams of the region have no valleys of their own, but follow chains of 
shallow depressions in the drift of the prairie. Except in the zone 
immediately bordering the river, the dissection of the surface of the prairie 
has scarcely begun. 

DEVELOPMENT OF VALLEY FLATS 

As erosion continues, the rate at which the valley is lengthened and 
deepened decreases, and the time comes when growth in these directions 
ceases entirely. But the widening of a valley does not cease. When the 
head of a valley has worked back to the edge of another drainage basin, 
the valley may cease to grow in length. In other words, a permanent 
divide becomes established. Similarly the deeping of the channel ceases 
wiicn the gradient of the stream has been so reduced that the sluggish stream 
can no longer wear its bottom deeper. But long after the stream has ceased 
to grow in length and depth, its sides are still being worn back by slope 
wash and side cutting. 

A stream that has so reduced its current that it is unable to erode its 
bed further is said to be at grade. A stream at this stage is able still to 
undercut its banks and widen the bottom of its valley. A flat is thus 
gradually developed by side cutting, and upon this floor the stream deposits 
in time of flood the sediments which its upper water and tributary streams 
have contributed. The flat which the stream covers in time of flood is called 
a flood plain. A stream which has built an extensive flood plain is said to 
be mat lire . The older the stream is, topographically speaking, the wider is 
its flood plain. A mature stream has a sluggish current, and is easily 
deflected from its course by obstructions in its channel. Except in times 



126 



UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 



of flood, it wanders about feebly, and may be deflected by any obstruction 
against which it flows. Under these conditions it swings back and forth, 
across its flat in an ever-widening series of bends, called meanders. At the 
outer edge of these bends it may undercut its bluffs and so maintain steep 
valley sides. Meanders are characteristic of all depositing streams and are 
well shown in Illinois Valley below Peru. 

STAGES OF VALLEY DEVELOPMENT IN THIS REGION 

All stages of topographic development may be shown by a single valley. 
The lower course may be in old age, while its headwaters and the upper 
courses of its tributaries may be in extreme youth. This condition is true 
of the Mississippi system and in a less complete way of the Illinois. 





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Fig. 48. — Diagrammatic illustration of the formation of an ox-bow lake. 



The upper Illinois basin contains all gradations from gullies that are just 
started, to Illinois Valley, which below Peru, is well along in maturity. 

Illinois Valley itself shows various stages of development in its various 
parts. Below the Vermilion rivers, it has developed a flood plain a mile 
wide, and the sluggish stream meanders in the valley with a gradient so low 
that erosion has practically ceased (see cross-section at Peru, figure 5). 
Above, the valley is in a much earlier stage of development and has not yet 
destroyed a series of rapids formed by beds of hard rock in its channel. 
On its lower course the meanders of the river carry it from one side of the 
valley to the other, and on the flood plain are numerous ox-bow lakes. They 
are remnants of old stream meanders which Avere abandoned and partially 
silted up as the stream shortened its course in breaking through the 
narrowed neck of a meander, as shown at A, figure 48. Figure 49 illustrates 



ACTIVE PHYSIOGRAPHIC PROCESSES 



127 



the gradual destruction of such a stagnant pool. (1) Swamp vegetation 
rapidly encroaches upon their borders and helps to fill them with its dead 
leaves and stems ; (2) spring floods leave some sediment in overflowing these 
sloughs; (3) finally, wash from the sides helps in their obliteration. Their 
destruction is rapid, and a decrease in their size may be noted in some eases 
in a few j'cars. Some of the older maps of the region show cut-off lakes 
on the flood plain below Spring Valley which are much larger than at 
present. Lake Depue, one of the largest of these cut-off lakes, is maintained 




Fig. 49. — Stagnant pool gradually being filled by vegetation. 

by springs which issue on its floor. As is often the case with mature and 
adolescent streams, the sides of the Illinois Valley are in general steep. 
This is due chiefly to undercutting. 

]Most of the larger tributaries have developed valley flats in their lower 
courses. This is true especially of the western tributaries. Spring Creek, 
Bureau Creek, and even Cedar Creek have broad flats. Within each of 
these valleys, the flood plains afford room for cultivated fields. Farther 
east the valleys are chiefly narrow and deep, in many cases canyon-like. 



ADJUSTMENT OF TRIBUTARIES 



Adjustment of the lower courses of tributaries to the changes of the 
main channel have been rather common in this region. The lowest tributary 



128 



UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 



of Fox River from the east flows toward the Illinois until it reaches the 
valley of the latter. It then turns west along the northern margin of 
Illinois Valley and joins the Fox at the point where the latter enters the 
broad terrace of the Illinois. The lower part of this tributary occupies 
an abandoned channel of Illinois River. The Illinois now flows along the 




Fig. 50. — Sketch map showing the relation of the lowest tributary of Fox Eiver to 
the abandoned channel of Illinois Eiver. 




channel 

River " ' , 
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§1 

.c: 

/ 



SI ° 

I 

£ 
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Fig. 51. — Sketch map showing the relation of some of the tributaries of the Illinois 
at Starved Eock to the abandoned channel of Illinois Eiver. 



southern mai'gin of its valley, and the Fox has extended its course south 
across the old channel to join the shifted Illinois River, while the small 
tributary has fallen heir to the abandoned channel of the main stream, but 



activp: physiographic processes 129 

in so doing has shifted its month from the Illinois to the Fox. The relation 
is shown in fignre 50. 

Between Starved Rock and Sonth Ottawa a similar feature is shown 
(figure 51). Three ravines are cut into the southern bluff of Illinois 
Valley. As the first stream reaches the flat of the Illinois, it turns sharply 
westward parallel to the river. It is joined by the middle tributary, and 
only after the third stream is added does the composite stream turn to join 
the Illinois. The united stream occupies an old channel of the river that 
enters the present channel below the mouth of the third ravine. The 
tributaries, because of their occupation of this deserted channel, now form 
one stream, although their development was independent of each other, and 
their union dates only from the time of the change in the channel of the 
Illinois. 

SPECIAL DEPOSITIONAL FEATURES 
CONDITIONS OP DEPOSITION 

Deposition takes place whenever the velocity of a sediment-bearing 
stream is sufficiently retarded. Such a condition occurs most commonly by 
a decrease of gradient or l)y a loss of volume of water. When the velocity 
of a stream decreases gradually downstream, it drops its load little by 
little and develops a gently sloi)ing flood plain. When the flow of a stream 
is checked suddenly, it drops most of its sediment within a very short 
distance. There are then formed deltas, sand bars, and alluvial fans. 

DELTAS AND SAND BARS 

The current of a stream is checked when it floAvs into a body of standing 
water, as a lake, or when it joins a stream more sluggish than itself. The 
stream thus retarded will drop most of its load promptly in a small area 
rather than distribute it slowly over a broad area, as is the case if 
retardation is gradual. In standing water such deposits make a delta. At 
present there is no body of standing water within the region to supply per- 
fect conditions for delta formation. Illinois River, with its sluggish current, 
serves to some extent as such a body for its more rapid tributaries ; several 
of them have made large deposits of sand at their mouths. The Vermilion 
rivers and Spring Creek, for example, have formed large bars at their 
mouths, and in time of low water these bars often become serious impedi- 
ments to navigation. Although not true deltas, their mode of origin is 
similar, and with a lesser current of the Illinois they would have developed 
into normal deltas. 

ALLUVIAL FANS 

Alluvial fans are fan-shaped bodies of alluvial material resting against 
the base of a slope. They are somewhat similar to deltas, except that they 
were deposited on land. They are composed of silt, sand, or gravel Avhich 



130 



UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 



has been washed down a slope by rivulets and deposited at its base. The 
bottom of a steep slope at the base of which is a tiat plain is 
especially favorable for the development of alluvial fans. The water which 
flows down the steep slope is able to move much sediment, but is unable 
to carry it when it spreads out over the flat below, so the load is dropped 
somewhat promptly, though less promptly than in standing Avater. 
Conditions favorable for the formation of such fans are found particularly 
on the outer side of the "Great Bend" of Illinois Valley below Depue. 
Here is a great abundance of loose sand along the side of the valley. The 
slopes have been made steep recently by the undercutting of the river, and 
a broad flood plain adjoins the bluffs. Numerous gullies have been cut in 
the sandy bluffs, and their wash is deposited upon the flood plain in well- 
developed alluvial fans of loose sand. This condition is illustrated in 
figure 52. 




Fig. 52.— Small alluvial fan. 



INFLUENCE OF MATERIAL UPON TOPOGRAPHY 
BED ROCK 

The individuality of erosion features, such as hills or valleys, depends 
largely upon the kind of material in which they have been formed. Valleys 
of siiniliii' age and Avith streams of similar volume may differ widely in 
their topographic character, because cut in different material. Not only 
will valleys cut in bed rock and valleys cut in drift shoAV different 
eliaracteristics, but valleys cut in different kinds of bed rock differ, as do 
valleys cut in different kinds of drift. 

The character of the valleys cut in rock is dependent both upon the 
composition and the hardness of the rock and upon its structure. Abundant 



ACTIVE PHYSIOGRAPHIC PROCESSES 



131 




Fig. 53. — Lower Falls in Deer Park Glen; a canyon in St. Peter sandstone (photo 
by Ehodes.) 



132 UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 

illustrations of the varying resistance of bed rock and drift to erosion are 
furnished by the valleys of this region. 

1. The Prairie dii Cliicn limestone is extremely resistant to erosive 
processes. Where it outcrops in Illinois Valley, the river has not been able 
to wear it down to flood level in all places and numerous low knobs of it 
are left on the alluvial lowland. In the upland back of Pecumsaugan Creek 
it outcrops similarly in irregular elevations above the general surface of 
the prairie. Valleys cut in the formation develop almost vertical cliff 
faces. The valley of Pecumsaugan Creek, cut in the Prairie du Chien 
limestone for more than a mile north of the canal, has developed a gorge 
more than 80 feet deep. The other valleys in this limestone are short 
ravines, but they are all narrow and steep sided. Where the Tomahawk 
and Little Vermilion creeks cross this formation similar cliffs are 
developed. 

2. In the St. Peter sandstone still more pronounced gorges are 
developed. Several of them in the Starved Rock region are illustrated in 
figures 9 and 53. These canyons are commonly not more than a hundred 
feet wide at their tops, and may be as deep or even deeper. Their sides 
are vertical, and in many places the cliffs overhang. The canyons end 
above in blunt heads, over which water comes tumbling from the shallow 
draws of the prairie above. Most of the falls at the heads of the canyons 
are fifty feet or somewhat less in height. 

The St. Peter sandstone is a relatively soft formation and erodes very 
readily, so that streams soon develop flats in their valleys. The canyon-like 
character of the valleys in this formation is due to the presence of a harder 
cap rock above the body of the St. Peter. ]\Iost of the formation consists 
of slightly cemented sand, in which wide, gently sloping valleys would be 
readily formed . Its top, however, has been cemented more firmly than the 
rest of the formation. In some places, as in Deer Park Glen, the sandstone 
is overlain by a hard capping of Platteville limestone, and in many other 
places by the resistant basal sandstone of the "Coal Measures." Nearly 
everywhere in this region, one or the other of these hard beds caps the 
formation. This cap rock weathers back more slowly than the softer 
sandstone beneath it. Since the lower beds weather out more rapidly than 
the capping bed, the sides are always either vertical, or the cap rock over- 
hangs the lower slope of the valley. In some places the overhang is so 
great, that the canyons appear bottle-shaped in cross-section. The rate of 
weathering of the resistant cap controls largely the rate at which the valley 
widens. 

A cliff of the St. Peter formation is shown in figure 5-1. The numerous 
cup-like depressions in the sides appear at first to be the remnants of a 
vertical series of pot-holes ; but they are mostly the result of the differential 
weathering of harder and softer beds of the sandstone. The depressions 



ACTIVE PHVSIOGRAl'HIC PROCKSSKS 



133 



lie both ill liorizoiital and voflical sei'ics. Tiicir horizontal alif^nincnt is 
due to the weathering out of a softer bed between harder layers. Their 
vertical development is generally along joint planes that form lines of 
weakness, along which weathering or erosion is most rapid. Jointing has 
also given direction to some of the canyons in the Starved Rock area, and at 
the heads of the canyons some of the streams may be seen working along a 
joint-plane. 

3. The Platteville-Galena limestone is unimportant topographically 
because of its slight thickness. Wherever it is sufficiently thick to develop 




Fig. 54. — ^^Characteristic view of sides of the canyons cut in the St. Peter sandstone 
of Deer Park Glen. 



topographic features, canyons similar to those of the Prairie du Chien have 
been formed. This is illustrated by the gorge on lower Covel Creek. 

4. The relief of the Morris basin in which the Riclimond limestone 
outcrops, is too slight to have developed any characteristic topographic 
features. This limestone is rather resistant, and forms low bosses on the 
lloor of the Illinois at its head. 

5. In the "Coal Measures" are developed erosion features of a wide 
variety of types, dependent upon a wide variety of formations. 



134 UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 

In the hard La Salle limestone, on the western flank of the anticline, 
numerous gorges are developed. The gorge of the lower Little Vermilion, 
at the northern limits of the city of La Salle, is in this limestone. Similarly, 
vertical rock walls form the sides of Big Vermilion Valley up to a point 
above Bailey's Falls. These cliffs are formed by a capping of the 
La Salle limestone. 

East of the anticline, valleys cut in the "Coal Measures" have gentler 
slopes and wider bottoms. The strata are of greater age in the eastern 
region than in the western. They are composed chiefly of the clays and 
shales of the basal part of the series, and limestone is mostly lacking. These 
formations erode readily and do not long keep steep slopes. The valley of 
the Fox is largely in "Coal Measures" shales and has their typically gentle 
slopes. The most resistant formations of the eastern region are the 




Fig. 55. — Valley side in glacial till along the Illinois east of Marseilles. 

micaceous sandstones which outcrop particularly on Covel, Kickapoo, 
Waupecan, and Mazon creeks. 

GLACIAL MATERIAL 

Valleysi cut in drift are in general longer, broader, and in some cases 
deeper than those cut in bed rock. The glacial materials arc on the whole 
more easily eroded than the bedded rocks, because they are in general 
uncementcd. Till is the most resistant of the materials of the drift, and 
in many placs is as resistant as are the softer formations of the "Coal 
Measures." It has not only a stiff clay matrix whose fine particles cohere 
tenaciously, but is exceedingly compact, due perhaps to the pressure of the 
ice which deposited it. In valleys which are being cut rapidly the till forms 
steep slopes, sometimes 80 to 100 feet high. Some of the best types of 



ACTIVE PHYSIOGRAPHIC PROCESSES 



135 



youthful, steep, and narrow valleys of this region arc in the till, especially 
east of Marseilles on the two Kickapoo creeks and north of Wedron on 
Indian Creek. The character of the slopes of Illinois Valley where they 
are composed of till, is shown in figure 55. 

The firm, tough lake clays of the eastern region are almost as resistant 
to erosion as the till. The slopes along Armstrong's or Hog Run, cut in 
these bedded blue clays, are no less steep than are those cut in the till 
farther up these valleys. 

Where the material is coarser, however, the cohesion of the particles is 
reduced, and they are washed aw^ay more readily. The most easily eroded 
material is the stratified drift. A stream cuts rapidly through beds of silt, 
sand, or fine gravel and may reach grade while neighboring streams are 
still flowing over rapids and falls. This is shown in Putnam County, 




Fig. 56. — Diagrammatic cross-section of a ravine south of St. Bedes College show- 
ing the relation of the new channel in the soft drift to its old abandoned bowlder-covered 
valley floor. 



where Allforks Creek has developed a wide, low valley with a meandering 
stream, while Cedar Creek and the two Vermilion rivers, streams of grater 
size, are still cutting canyons in rock. Allforks Creek meanders broadly in 
a valley as much as half a mile wide. The broad flat bed of Bureau Creek, 
within which the stream wanders about widely, is another example of the 
ease with which stratified drift is eroded. The valleys of Negro and Spring 
Creeks, from both of which much sand and gravel has been removed, are 
similarly large. Unless steepened by recent undercutting, valleys cut in 
sand and gravel have gentle slopes, as the loose, rounded material will not 
stand with steep faces. 

The drift commonly contains much material too coarse for streams to 
transport. With the removal of the finer material, the large bowlders are 
left in the bed of the stream, and in time its channel may be paved with 
them. At the base of most slopes cut in till or gravel, large bowlders are 
found in profusion, and most stream beds in the drift are covered with 



136 



UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 



them. These large stones are those which have resisted wear most success- 
fully, such as igneous rocks. The paving of the bed of a stream with such 
bowlders checks its further wearing down. The stream then erodes more 
readily on the margins of its channel, at the edge of its bowlder bed. At 
the side of the old channel it may cut a new one in soft drift, with the 
result that the stream may abandon its old bowlder-covered floor. This 
condition is illustrated in the ravine due south of St. Bedes College, between 
Peru and Spring Valley (fig. 56) , The original bed of the stream is covered 
with bowlders, and on its margins, two new channels have been cut, and 
the old one remains as a low ridge between them. 




Fig. 57. — Eesistant bed of limestone on Cedar Creek between beds of soft shale. 
Some distance upstream this bed of limestone forms falls in Cedar Creek. 



DEVELOPMENT OP PALLS 

The development of falls is caused by the presence of a resistant bed 
over an easily eroded bed in the channel of an actively eroding stream. 
Figure 57 shows a bed of limestone over soft shales on Cedar Creek. This 
limestone forms rapids in the creek, and before it was worn back to its 
present position it formed falls in the stream. The case is similar to one 
in which overhanging cliffs are developed along the side of a valley. The 
softer underlying formation is eroded more rapidly than the harder cap 
rock. It is worn back therefore until the cap rock protects it from further 
erosion (fig. 58). Rapids are formed first (A), and these become steepened 



ACTIVE PHYSIOGRAPHIC PROCKSSES 



137 



into falls (B). Later, the falls give way to rai)ids (C), and if erosion 
continues until the resistant bed is worn to tlie l)ase-level of tlie sti'cani 
(D), even the rapids disai)i)ear. If the cap rock is much more resistant 
than the rock beneath, the weaker formation may weather out from under 
the cap rock until an overhang of the latter results. This tends to hasten 
the erosion of the hard cap, as its overhanging edge breaks off from time 
to time under its own weight. In some cases erosion is aided l)y jointing, 
which breaks up the rock into blocks that are more I'cadily attacked by the 
stream. The falls on Cedar Creek are being accelerated in their erosion 
by both of the last-mentioned conditions. 

Practically every canyon in the St. Peter sandstone has falls at its 
head. The streams in them are young and have not yet caused theii* falls 
to recede more than a few miles from the river. Bailey's Falls on a tributary 
to the Big Vermilion is over the La Salle limestone and is caused by a shaly 
bed beneath the massive upper limestone. Smaller falls are common in the 
"Coal Measures" with their great variety of formations of unequal 
resistance; those on Cedar Creek are an example. In the cutting back of 
falls, a gorge, such as those about Starved Rock, is left below. 



——2= 


..__ 


_1_^ 










1 






!^—' J C 1 


2, 




- 


- 


" — - 


""—Z~- 


-_^ 


-z 


'Zr^^^=-^ 


^4~ 





Fig. 58. — Diagrammatic illustration of the relation of falls to a hard stratum show- 
ing (1) surface outline, (2) the surface material or drift and shale, (3) the cap rock, 
and (4) the "Coal Measures." The dotted lines represent the stream channel at various 
stages, DD being base level. 

If the resistant bed is at some distance below the top of the valley, the 
material above it is worn back more rapidly than the hard layer, and 
leaves the latter projecting as a rock bench or terrace on the slope. These 
benches are common Avest of La Salle, both along the sides of the Illinois and 
its tributaries. 

VARIATIONS IN TOPOGRAPHY OF A VALLEY 

The topography of the valleys of this region is, in a general way, the 
result of the erosion of materials of different resistance. Different parts 
of the same valley may be very unlike, because they may be cut in different 
formations. 

Illinois Valley shows striking changes in character due to this cause. 
Above Marseilles the valley is cut in drift where it has gentle slopes 
generally used for pastures. Figure 55 illustrates such a slope. Below 
Marseilles bed rock, chiefly sandstone of "Coal Measures" age, takes the 
place of the drift. Here the slopes are steeper and pastures give way to 



138 



UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 



wood lots. Below Ottawa the St. Peter comes in on the valley sides, and 
bare, vertical cliffs are developed, which furnish the picturesque scenery 
of the Starved Rock region. The Prairie du Chien limestone below Utica 
shows similar bare bluffs, and in addition low bosses of it make the floor 
of the valley uneven. West of La Salle beyond the outcrop of the 
La Salle limestone, the slopes are again more gentle. The change of 
character of the floor of Illinois Valley above the mouths of the Vermilion 
rivers may have been influenced by the outcrop of the Prairie du Chien 
formation. The alluvial bottom below the Vermilion rivers gives way to an 
irregular, rocky floor above, practically at the western limit of the 
Prairie du Chien formation. This change may be due to the great resistance 
of this limestone to erosion, which has retarded the erosion of the entire 
valley above this place, 

Au Sable Creek, in the northeastern part of the region, follows the 
western base of the Minooka ridge. The creek consists of pools of almost 
stagnant water, covered by swamp vegetation and alternating with stretches 
of fairly good flow where the creek flows on rock. This condition is due 
probably to the fact that the post glacial creek has cut across drift-filled 
depressions between rock ridges. 

The valley of Mazon Creek in the shallow Morris basin, has sides which 
are rarely more than forty feet high. On lower Mazon Creek is a bend 
known as the "Ox-Bow" (fig. 34). Below ''B" the valley is cut in soft 
sand. South of the line A-B, the material is bedded rock. The line A-B 
marks the southern rock slope of the glacial Illinois Valley, which the 
Mazon has uncovered. The development of Mazon Creek north of A is 
subsequent to this filling. Above A, Mazon Creek is considerably older, as 
shown by a filling of sand and gravel of glacial age. When the Illinois 
re-excavated its channel north of its glacial bed, Mazon Creek was forced 
to extend its course northward through the aggraded older channel. In 
doing this it followed the southern margin of the old valley of the Illinois 
for a short distance. Below the Ox-Bow, the stream winds along with 
sluggish current and broad meanders; above, the valley is cut in "Coal 
Measures" and generally shows steep sides. 

Saratoga, Nettle, and Waupecan creeks and Bill's Eun have shallow 
valleys, which were partly filled during the deposition of the late Wiscon- 
sin valley train in Illinois Valley. The headwaters of Nettle Creek are 
collected from the broad eastern flank of the Marseilles moraine. The run- 
off from the moraine follows several series of glacial depressions, and the 
streams thus formed converge eastward to form Nettle Creek; most of the 
headwaters of the streams which drain this moraine possess such glacial 
depressions, without having done any appreciable work in their enlarge- 
ment. 

Walb ridge's and Covel creeks similarly have ill-defined shallow upper 
valleys; but their lower valleys are deep, stream-cut channels which are 



ACTIVE PHYSIOGRAPHIC PROCESSES 



139 



extending- headward and cutting a bed in the shallow depression above. 
Covel Creek illustrates well the unequal resistances of materials. Its lower 
course is cut in Platteville limestone and has cliff sides ; above, in the ' ' Coal 
Measures, ' ' the slopes are gentle. 

Fox River is marginal to the western base of the Marseilles moraine. 
The slopes of the valley are on the whole gentle and wooded, or pastured ; 
the materials which compose them are till or ''Coal Measures" clays. At 
Wedron, however, the St. Peter sandstone rises high above the valley, and 
here its sides become sheer cliffs. 

In the tributaries west of Ottawa, the canyon type of the St. Peter 
prevails. Figure 59 shows typical profiles from the valley of Clark's Run. 




Fig. 59. — Diagrammatic eross-Kections of different parts of the valley of Clark's 
Eim: a, valley cut in soft "Coal Measures" and till; b, valley cut in St. Peter sand- 
stone. 



The valley above the falls is cut in "Coal Measures" and till, and is broad 
and flat. The falls mark the upper limit of cutting in the St. Peter. 

At the crossing of the Utica-La Salle road on Pecumsaugan Creek falls 
have been formed in the Prairie du Chien formation. Below, the stream 
flows in a rock gorge; above, its valley is a marsh, grown up wdth reeds, 
within which the creek flows feebly. The valley of Pecumsaugan Creek 
is another example of a morainic depression in its upper course, and of a 
stream-cut valley below. 

Little Vermilion Valley crosses the La Salle limestone in its lower 
course, and has developed here a narrow gorge, extending upstream from 
the bluffs of the Illinois to the point w^here the Illinois Central Railroad 
leaves the valley. Above the outcrop of the La Salle limestone, the stream 
lies in soft shales, and has formed a broad, flat valley. Above the mouth of 
Tomahawk Creek, where the stream crosses the St. Peter and 
Prairie du Chien formations, the valley again is narrowed, and its slopes 
are vertical bluffs. 



140 



UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 



Man as a Factor in Erosion 



RECENT changes 



The processes of erosion work slowly, as man counts time, and for 
this reason he has paid but little attention to the possibilities of their 
control, or to the fact that his activities influence these processes in many 
ways. Savage man did little to destroy the soil cover, or to invite the 
gullying of the surface in other w^ays. In his time, the upland was covered 
by the thick sod which the prairie grass formed, and on the slopes of the 
valleys grew trees and brush which protected the soil from wash ; man was 
an unimportant factor in erosion. Early travelers have left accounts of this 
country before the coming of the white man, of thick prairie grass which 




Fig. 60. — Destruction of soil on a slope as the result of denudation of Fox Valley. 



stretched, an unbroken sea of waving blades, over the upland, interrupted 
here and there by tongues of Avoodland along the streams, and of streams 
that flowed clear and pure. Today the scene is much altered. The grassy 
prairies have been converted into tilled fields, and the soil is bared to the 
action of wind and water. Much of the timber has been removed from the 
valleys; gullies are cutting back into the prairies in many places, and the 
streams run murky with their load of sediment washed in from plowed 
fields and denuded slopes. The ways in Avhich man has stimulated erosion 
are principally : 

erosion increased by deforestation 

Timber is confined to the valleys and, because of its scarcity, has been 
at a premium since the settlement of the region. The original small supply 
was rapidly reduced by the increasing demand. In the cutting out of the 
usable timber, the protecting cover of the soil was destroyed, and the steep 



ACTIVE rHYSIOGRAPHlC PROCESSES 



141 



slopes of the valleys were exposed to slope wash. In some places these 
cut-over slopes have become covered with j^rass or brush, but in many 
places they have been gashed by gullies. Such a denuded slope, which is 
being ruined i-ajiidly by erosion, is shown in figure GO. These gullies, once 
started, woi-k baclv and may become destructive to the fields on the prairie 
beyond the valley. 

EROSION INCREASED BY OVER-GRAZING 

Because of the agricultural value of the prairie land, the farmer has in 
many cases used all of his prairie land for cultivation, and has pastured his 




Fig. 61. — Gravel fan (A) spread over field on Cedar Creek. 



cattle on the less valuable slopes of some valley. Wood lots and cut-over 
slopes are often used for cattle pastures. The hoofs of cattle have cut the 
sod, and over-grazing has killed the grass in places, so that the soil has 
been laid bare, to be washed by rains and blown by winds. Damage has 
been done especially in using slopes that were too steep or by pasturing 
too many cattle upon hillsides. These conditions are perhaps worst in Fox 
Valley, and especially along its eastern side, where gullying has impaired 
seriously the value of slopes which have been carelessly used for pastures, 
and which might have been kept in a productive state by more restricted 
grazing, or by letting them remain in timber. 



142 UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 

EROSION INCREASED BY CULTIVATION OF SLOPES 

Where land is valuable, the temptation is great to extend the 
cultivated area to its maximum. Slopes have been tilled which are too 
steep, and whose soil is too readily washed to make such cultivation 
advisable. Particularly if the ground is plowed improperly, if the surface 
is left to cake and become compact, or if the humus is exhausted, soil which 
responded properly at first to cultivation, may wash and become uncon- 
trollable. In Bureau County, many hillsides of fertile loess have been 
farmed recklessly, and in a number of cases have been gullied until they 
are nearly worthless. 

RESULTS OF SOIL EROSION 

Whatever the cause of erosion, the results affect much more than the 
denuded slope. Gullies work hcadward beyond the hillside on which they 
started, and attack the level upland behind. The material which has been 
eroded may be dumped at the base of the slope, and damage the fields in 
the valley below. Fields on valley bottoms may be overspread by wash 
from the higher slopes, and be injured for agriculture. Figure 61 shows 
gravel which has been washed down over a field, and has made it worthless. 
The gully from which the gravel has come was caused by allowing a lane 
on the hillside to wash until the lane became a gully. Other results are 
the fouling of streams with sediment, the consequent depreciation of their 
value for navigation, water power, and water supply. The deforestation 
of slopes, too, has increased the danger of floods, since waters flow more 
rapidly over treeless slopes than through forests. 

SOILS MOST AFFECTED 

A soil which is highly resistant to erosion is a soil which has sufficient 
porosity to absorb a large proportion of the water that falls upon it, and 
yet a sufficient cohesion of its particles to oppose the wear of the water 
that runs over it. Such a soil is a moderately sandy loam, somewhat more 
porous than the average soil of the region. 

The very porous soils derived from the local stratified drift are too 
loose to withstand erosion successfully. The "high-level" gravels are com- 
monly considerably eroded. The sands of the Hennepin flat are deeply 
trenched by gullies. Beds of silt are almost as easily eroded. Figure 62 
shows a young gully developed on the crest of a ridge between the larger 
gullies a and h. A wagon trail formerly led along the ridge between the 
two larger i-avines. As the sod was destroyed, tb.e loose silt which underlies 
the ridge Avas readily eroded. 

The clay soils derived fi'om the till witlistand erosion much lietter, but 
because of their compactness do not readily absorb the water which falls 
upon them, and as a large proportion of the rainfall runs off over the 
surface, they nre somewhat subject to erosion. 



ACTIVE PHYSIOGRAPHIC PROCKSSKS 



143 



PROPER USE OF STEEP SLOPES 

The problem of the best use of the lands is new to the American farmer, 
accustomed to think of the resources of this country as inexhaustible. The 
rapid talvinj^ up of our remaining uncultivated agriculture lands, and the 
increasing demand for farm products by our growing industrial population, 
are gradually enforcing a more careful use of the land. The farmer has 
learned to maintain soil fertility by crop rotation and by the use of 
fertilizers. He is now learning to use all his land to the best advantage. 
Wherever he is cultivating slopes, he must learn to protect them from 
erosion by contour plowing, by keeping the land covered with some kind of 
growth as much of the time as possible, by kee])ing the soil mellow with 



/T^- 





Fig. 62.- — Gully formed in silt east of Marseilles. This gully was originally a 
wagon road following the crest of a small ridge between the valleys a and b. The 
wagon wheels destroyed the sod and started erosion. 



abundant humus and frequent cultivation, and by checking the growth of 
gullies by filling them with straw or brush or by planting in them fast- 
growing brush. On steeper slopes, pastures are profitable in many eases, 
especially where a spring furnishes a good supply of w^ater. In places, the 
best use of a slope consists in keeping it well timbered, or if the timber 
has been cut, in reforesting it. Only so can slope wash be kept in check 
on some slopes, and the adjacent upland fields be protected. The scant local 
supply of timber and the ready growth of trees advises this course at times, 
not only as a protective measure, but as a source of profit. 



CHAPTER VII— SETTLEMENT AND DEVELOPMENT OF UPPEK 

ILLINOIS VALLEY 

Geographic Influences 

The physical processes that determined the geologic structure and the 
geography of this region also affect man at every turn and are bound up 
in many ways with his welfare. They are recognized most readily and are 
of most immediate importance in the geographic environment which they 
have created for him. All the fabric of the history of the region is woven 
about the warp of its physical conditions, which define in a large sense 
both the past and present of the region and the possibilities of its future. 
Infinite in their complexity, the most important of them are: (1) char- 
acter of the surface and its drainage lines, (2) location of the region in the 
heart of the Prairie States between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River, 
(3) relation of prairie to woodland, (4) character of the soil, (5) mineral 
resources, and (6) water power. All these factors have a larger and a more 
restricted application — in the larger sense, as relating this region to other 
regions ; in the narrower sense, as differentiating its various parts. Physical 
conditions outside this area also have had far-reaching influences at vari- 
ous times on local matters. 

Indian Life 

Although the Indian did almost nothing to develop this region, and 
except for a few years in the early thirties, was not even an obstacle to its 
settlement, he is worthy of attention because of the interest that attaches 
to him in local legends and in pioneer history. Because he was a savage, 
the Indian depended more directly upon his natural environment than the 
white man who followed. 

The first owners of the valley, so far as known, were of the Illinois 
tribe of Indians, who for a time held undisputed sway over all the territory 
drained by the river which bears their name. They were prairie Indians 
and lived largely by the chase. They are said to have been less susceptible 
to culture than the Indians of the wooded areas and to have known less 
of agriculture.^ The vast pastures of prairie grass and the wooded areas 
along the valleys harbored abundant animal life, on which they drew for 
food. The abundance of game caused the Indians to live by hunting and 
kept them unskilled in agriculture. Their dependence on game forced them 
to wander widely on hunting trips. Consequently they did not build 

'Caton, J. D., Last, of the Illinois, pp. 12 and 13, 1876. 

(144) 



SETTLEMENT AND DEVELOPMENT ^ 145 

permanent homes, and social iiistilutions I'ciiiaincd vei'v ])i'iinitive. More- 
over, the tough prairie sod did not invite cultivation. The Indians built 
some "towns" where they fi;athered in the fall at harvest time and left the 
weaker members of their tribe more or less permanently. Apparently these 
towns were mere clusters of wigwams, with a few poorly cultivated patches 
of maize, beans, and pumpkins about them. A town on the site of Utiea 
is generally mentioned as a tribal rendevous of importance. Early French 
writers speak of it as swarming with thousands of Indians in the late fall, 
although almost abandoned during the rest of the year. A similar, but 
smaller "town", stood on the site of Channahon. The reason for the loca- 
tion of these places is unrecorded, but both sites are surrounded by soils 
well suited to such methods of cultivation as the Indians knew. In con- 
trast to the heavy clay soil of the prairies, and even to most of the alluvial 
soils of the valleys, the soil in these places is sandy and light. It yielded 
readily to the weak tools and intermittent industry of the Indian and grew 
fair crops with little cultivation. The settlement on the site of Utiea was 
protected by the French military post across the river at Starved Rock, 
where at times the Illinois Indians took refuge from marauding tribes. 
The Channahon settlement was located at the confluence of three streams 
which afforded a measure of protection and served as highways. 

The annals of the Indian tribes which inhabited successively Illinois 
Valley are a melancholy record of warfare and depredation. For years 
the Illinois were subject to raids at the hands of the Iroquois tribes 
of New York. When strongest the Illinois tribe retaliated by similar ex- 
peditions, some of which carried them into IMohawk Valley. In 1680 the 
Iroquois came down in force and drove the native Indians from their land, 
but two years later the Illinois tribe re-established itself in Illinois Valley. 
Much later the Iroquois drove out the Pottawatomies, Sacs, and Foxes, from 
their grounds in southern Michigan and adjacent states.^ These displaced 
tribes emigrated into Illinois where they naturally came into conflict with 
the resident Illinois Indians, and through long-continued Avar gradually 
wore out the once-splendid tribe. 

The last line of defense of the Illinois Indians was upper Illinois Val- 
ley. The surrounding prairies afforded no adequate refuge, and for years 
they retreated in time of danger to sheltered places along the bluffs of the 
upper Illinois. They are said to have entrenched themselves at Joliet, 
along the Kankakee, at IMarseilles, where the rapids made the landing of 
a hostile force difficult, and last of all at Starved Rock, impregnable by 
its isolation, and conquered only by a greater foe than man. The fate of 
the Illinois is written in the character of the surface of their land. Their 
territory was open to attack; on all sides their hunting grounds were in 



-Baldwin, E., History of La Salle County, pp. 64-66, 1877; also Caton, J. D., The Last 
o£ the Illinois. 



146 ■ UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 

dispute with neighboring tribes ; eastward the land lay open for almost a 
thousand miles, and down this open stretch swooped various marauding 
tribes. The strength of the Illinois was broken permanently in the mem- 
orable massacre at Starved Rock. Those who were left drifted south into 
oblivion. After the feeble hold of the Illinois on the upper valley had been 
broken, came Pottawatomie, Sac, Fox, Winnebago, and Kickapoo, fugitives 
before the westward-pressing white men, sojourners for a day, who never 
established themselves in this region nor left their stamp upon it. 

French Explorations 

While the Illinois tribe was still in its prime, the first white men came 
to the valley.^ They were Frenchmen, soldiers eager to add new lands 
to the French domain, also missionary priests, and trappers and traders 
known as voyageurs and coureurs du hois ("wood runners"). These three 
classes of men represent the great ends for which the French pressed 
westward into this unknown domain. (1) Stories of natural wonders, 
strange peoples, and marvelous riches fired the imagination of Europeans 
during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The desire to explore new 
lands possessed adventurous minds the world over. This motive was strong 
in all the early expeditions which penetrated the Mississippi Basin from 
the time the first Spanish adventurers wandered about the lower Mississippi 
Valley. One of the great incentives for adventurous exploits lay in the 
search for a western passage to the Pacific Ocean, a search which continued 
for almost a century before hope of its success was abandoned. (2) Glit- 
tering schemes for the colonization of the interior, agricultural and others, 
led provincial governors, from time to time, to despatch expeditions inland 
from the northeastern provinces. (3) Almost always abreast of the soldier, 
and sometimes ahead of him, came the zealous missionary, friar of one 
of the numerous holy orders that proselyted in the rich field of heathendom 
here opened to them. (4) The strongest motive of the French in pene- 
trating the interior was the profit to be made from the fur trade. The 
garrison here, as everywhere in the French provinces, also was a. trading 
post, and soldier, priest, and trader alike turned a penny in bartering uten- 
sils, arms, trinkets, and often firewater, for pelts. 

The expansion of the French into the interior was very rapid. In 
1608 the first settlements were established about Quebec ; in 1673 the canoes 
of Frenchmen were already on Mississippi River more than a thousand 
miles inland. While most of the English colonists still were confined to 
the narrow coastal region of the Atlantic colonies, Frenchmen were build- 
ing stockades on the Mississippi and its tributaries. The phenomenal ex- 
pansion of a handful of men over an area a thousand miles wide in sixty- 

'Por a general discussion presented in masterly fashion, see F. Parkman: LaSalle and the 
discovery of the Great West. 



SETTLEMENT AND DEVELOPMENT 147 

five yeans is due to several reasons: (1) The Frencii entered the continent 
by way of the St. LaAvi-cnce and the Great Lakes. These waterways afforded 
a relatively easy route into the heart of the continent. From the Great 
Lakes the French passed by means of short poi-tages to tributaries of the 
Mississippi, whose watersheds are crowded close to the lakes. (2) The 
French secured a footing? in the northei-n half of the continent. Avhich was 
richest in valuable fur-bearing animals. In the fur trade a few men could 
work a large area, and a small European population was in some ways an 
advantage rather than a handicap, while the Indian hunter remained an 
invaluable asset to the prosperity of the business. (3) The poverty of the 
soil in much of eastern Canada discouraged agriculture and dense settle- 
ment, and many of the settlers either turned to fur trading or sought farms 
farther west. 

Upon these general conditions are based the operations of the French 
in upper Illinois Valley. The first Frenchmen known certainly to have 
entered this I'cgion are Marquette and Joliet, who on their return from 
the exploration of the Mississippi in 1673, chose to breast the gentle cur- 
rent of the Illinois rather than the SAvift Wisconsin River. Six years later 
Eobert Cavelier, Sieur de la Salle, crossed from Lake Michigan to Illinois 
River for the purpose of founding a colony. ''It was the knowledge of 
these things joined to the poverty of Canada, its dense forests, its barren 
soil, its harsh climate, and the snow that covers the ground for half the 
year, that led the Sieur de la Salle to undertake the planting of colonies 
in these beautiful countries of the West."-* His first attempt resulted in 
the building of Fort Creve Coeur on Lake Peoria. In 1682 he led another 
expedition southward, completed the exploration of the Mississippi to its 
mouth, and took possession of the interior for the king of France, naming 
it Louisiana. 

In his trips along Illinois Valley, La Salle came to recognize the ad- 
vantages of Starved Rock, especially its capacity for defense and its control 
of one of the largest Indian villages in the north. Accordingly toward the 
close of 1682, he despatched his lieutenant, Tonty, Avith a troop of men to 
Starved Rock to build a fort. La Salle soon joined them at the task, Avhich 
they completed in March, 1683. He named the fort St. Louis des Illinois. 

Starved Rock, known to the French as Le Rocher, presents an ad- 
mirable site for a fortification. At its northern base fioAvs Illinois River, 
above AA'hich the sheer rock Avails rise 130 feet. Its landAvard side is 
almost inaccessible except at one place, AA'hich affords a convenient, yet 
easily defended approach to the natural fortress. A level area of less than 
an acre provided room on top for the French to build a small stockade. 
As long as food lasted, the fort Avas impregnable. It controlled Illinois 
River and Avas accessible by this Avatcr route from the other French posts. 

*Mpmorial of La Salle to the minister Colbert; quoted from Francis Parkman, La Salle and 
the discovery of the Great West, p. Ill, 1869. 



148 UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 

La Salle had planned to establish here a great French colony and to 
develop the country round about. In 1687 Joutel writes enthusiastically of 
the beauty and fertility of the country and of its mineral wealth.^ In his 
journal, he gives what is probably the first account of the mineral resources 
of the region, in a statement concei'ning its limestone, its fire clay, and 
particularly its coal. He says, ' ' On the sides of the hills is found a gravelly 
sort of stone, very fit to make lime for building. There are also many clay 
pits, fit for making earthenware, bricks and tiles and along the river are 
coal pits, the coal whereof has been try'd and found very good." To the 
eyes of the Frenchman, accustomed to the scant vegetation and harsh cli- 
mate of northeastern Canada, this region presented the attractiveness of 
Arcadian plenty in its fertile soils, its moderate climate, its luxuriant vege- 
tation, and its abundant game. The agricultural colony planned was never 
established, however. For a time the post throve by its trade with the 
Indians, who flocked to the settlement across the river for the protection 
the guns of the French afforded. In 1687, however, La Salle met his fate 
on another colonizing venture, and Tonty abandoned the fort a few years 
later. It was occupied occasionally thereafter by French traders ; but the 
Indians left unprotected dispersed gradually, and the fort fell into ruins. 
With the passing of Fort St. Louis ended one of the most wisely planned 
of French colonial enterprises, and one which promised excellent results. 
It is impossible to say for how much the energy and abilities of La Salle 
would have counted in the success of the venture, had he lived. Not long 
after, however, the entire scheme of French colonization in America col- 
lapsed. It was from the start an unstable structure, based on the strength 
of a handful of soldiers and traders, for the most part, without the firm 
foundation of agricultural colonization. The French regime left scarcely a 
trace in Illinois Valley. The region lapsed into savagery, and its resources 
remained undeveloped and almost unknoAvn to white men for a century 
and a half. 

Westward Movement of Population 

While" the French were building Fort St. Louis on the Illinois, the 
English colonists were engaged in settling the Piedmont slopes at the sea- 
ward base of the Appalachian Mountains, their frontier settlements onlj^ a 
few score miles from tide-water. When, eighty years later, the French 
gave up their holdings on the North American continent, the English colon- 
ists had not yet passed the Appalachian barrier, except at the south where 
a thin stream of settlement had penetrated the mountain passes and spread 
into the upper valleys of streams that go down to the Mississippi. For the 



"Journal of the hast voyage, London (1714), pp. 171-172. 

'Pooley, Settlement of Illinois; and Barrows, H. H., Illinois Geol. Survey Bull. 15, give 
a good general account of this westw.ard movement. In addition La Salle County possesses a 
local history of \inusual merit in Baldwin's volume cited below. 



SETTLEMENT AND DEVELOPMENT I49 

Eiijilish-Amorioan colonist no chain of lakes and rivers pointed an easy 
way inland, and the ridges of the ApiJalaehians barred the way westwai'd 
nntil the Atlantic colonies could no longer sni)port their accunuilated popu- 
lation. From this fiiin agricultural base, howevei', expansion once begun 
Avas irresistible. 

PlONKKRS FHOM SoUTH 

Most of the pioneers who blazed the western ti'ails were from the south- 
ern seaboard states, and the first Avave of settlers that overspread the Mis- 
sissippi basin, except its extreme northern part, was from the South. The 
northeastern states were engaged largely in commerce and navigation and 
developed manufacturing interests at an early date. In these various pur- 
suits that part of their population which could not engage in agriculture 
found the means of a sufficient livelihood. The South on the other hand, 
enjoyed no such variety of occupation but devoted itself almost exclusively 
to agriculture, ficnce it was unable to support as dense a population as 
the North and became overpopulated much earlier. The injury to the soil 
in many places by the exclusive cultivation of tobacco and the discouraging 
effect of slave labor upon free labor also stimulated emigration from the 
South to the new western lands. Likewise at the close of the eighteenth 
century the obstacles to expansion in the South were not so great as in the 
North. The North had only one highway to the west, the Hudson-Mohawk 
depression. This w^ay, however, remained closed until near the end of the 
eighteenth century because the Iroquois Indians held its western part. 

A series of gaps opened up passable, though devious, routes westward 
from southern Pennsylvania, Virginia, and the Carolinas,and through these 
poured the emigrants. By 1790 a considerable number of emigrants from 
the southern states had formed settlements in the Blue Grass region of 
Kentucky, in the Nashville aTca, and in Western Pennsylvania.''' Several 
routes from the Atlantic seaboard focused upon Pittsburgh on Ohio River 
and were used increasingly as means of river transportation on the Ohio 
were developed and as the danger from Indians in Ohio Valley grew less. 
By keel-boat, barge, and raft the pioneers floated down the Ohio in large 
numbers, at first to settle south of the river, but gradually also to spread 
northward into Northwest Territory, under which name all the lands north 
of the Ohio River were at one time organized. In 1802 Ohio was admitted 
to statehood, with a zone of settlement confined almost entirely to the Ohio 
basin. By 1810 the lower AVabash Valley had been occupied, and settle- 
ments sprang up along the Ohio to its mouth, joining the old French set- 
tlements in the American Bottoms near St. Louis to the settled area on the 
Ohio and in Kentuckv. 



'The best graphic representation of the westward movement of population discussed here 
and on subsequent pages is given by the maps of the Statistical Atlas of the Census of the L'nited 
States. These show the areal distribution of population for each t(n->ear period from 1790 to 
date. Parts of some of these maps are reproduced by Semple. American history and its geo- 
graphic conditions : and by Barrows, H. H., Illinois Geol. Survey Bull. 15, Geography of the 
middle Illinois A'alley. 



150 UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 

The wave of emigrants first overspread southern Illinois and then 
moved northward up the valleys of the Mississippi and its tributary 
streams. By 1818 it had reached the mouth of Illinois River and brought 
settlers enough to the territory to secure statehood for Illinois. The move- 
ment from the South continued actively to about 1830, aided greatly by 
the development of steamboat navigation.^ By that time Illinois Valley 
was fairly well settled as far north as the Sangamon country, and a few 
settlers had found their way even into the upper Illinois Valley.^ The first 
cabin in Bureau County was built in 1828 "by a spring near a small 
branch," a typical site for the southern settler. ^"^ These settlers were 
woodsmen who knew not the prairie but sought out the belts of timber 
along the valleys. In 1829 a Pennsylvanian built his home in Putnam 
County, ^1 and in the early thirties a dozen families were reported within 
the limits of the county. ^^ i^^ l^ Salle County a number of settlers were 
established in the late twenties, several families on the bluff south of Ottawa, 
one settler at Bailey's Grove (1825), and one each in Dayton and Rutland 
townships (1829). In 1830 more came, and in that year the first election 
in the upper valley was held at Green's (now Dayton, La Salle County) in 
the Fox River precinct of what was then Peoria County. At the beginning 
of the Black Hawk "War fifty persons were reported on the lower Fox and 
about Ottawa, four or five families on Indian Creek, an equal number 
about La Salle and at Bailey 's Grove, and about three in Vermilion and' 
in Deer Park Townships. ^^ There were only tAvo families in Grundy 



*An interesting picture of the transportation conditions of tlie time is given by A. D. Jones 
in "Illinois and the West." (Boston 1838: pp. 30-36.) (1) Steamboats: "St. Louis is the 
great starting point of the West. Hither from every quarter of tiie East and South, travelers 
and immigrants flock in uncounted numbers. Every hour of every day they are disembogued (sic) 
upon the beautiful levees of this city in scores on scores, seeking pleasure and a home in this 
wondrous world just opening to them. From hence, every hour of every day witnesseth their 
departiire, into the interior of Missouri, up the Mississippi, Missouri or Illinois rivers. * * * * 
An eastern man can have no idea of the tide of travel on these mighty waters." 

(2) War/ons : Hosts of farmers with made their way across the country in caravans of 
prairie schooners, and accompanied by their live stock. (3) Raft and flat-boat: These sail down 
the current to the mouth of the Ohio and there they are broken up, put on board steamboats and 
taken to St. Louis, from where their contents are distributed over all the country, and the peo- 
ple thereof seek their destination." 

"Ford, H. A., History of Illinois, pp. 102-103: "The population of the State had in- 
creased by the year 1830 to 157,447; it had spread north from Alton as far as Peoria, prin- 
cipally on the rivers and creeks; and in such places there were settlers sparsely scattered along 
the margin of the Mississippi River to Galena, sometimes at the distance of a hundred miles 
apart; also on the Illinois to Chicago, with long intervals of wilderness; and a few sparse set- 
tlements were scattered about all over the southern part of the military tract. The country on 
the Sangamon River and its tributaries had been settled, and also the interior of the south; 
leaving a large wilderness tract yet to be peopled between Galyna and Chicago; the whole extent 
of the Rock River and the Fox River countries, and nearly all the lands in the counties, * * * * 
comprising (the remaining) one-third of the territory of the State. As yet but few settlements 
had been made anywhere in the open wide prairies, but were confined to the margins of the 
timber in the vicinity of rivers and streams." 

"Matson, Nehemiah, History of Bureau County, p. 87, 1867. In "Tax-payers and voters 
of Bureau County" the following population growth for the county is recorded: 1828, 5 families; 
1830, 9 families; 1831, 16 families; first election, 19 votes cast (p. 90); 1832, 31; 1833, 28 
(due to the Black Hawk uprising). 

"Ford, H. A., History of Putnam County, p, 8.5, 1860. 

'-Ellsworth, S., The olden time (in Putnam and Marshall counties), p. 159. 

•'Baldwin, E., History of La Salle County, p. 88, 1877. 



SETTLEMENT AND DEVELOPMENT 151 

County at this time (1832),'^ and only a few in AVill County, principally 
about Cliannahon. In 1832 the Sacs took to the warpath, and many set- 
tlers left. When peace was restored, southern emigration was deflected to 
the southwest by the flood of northern emigrants which spread over this 
region. Although the southern woodsman was the pioneer in this region, 
his inHuonce soon was overwhelmed by the host of northern emigrants. 

Control of Region by Northern Settlers 

In the early part of the nineteenth century the attention of the North- 
east began to turn to the possibilities of the interior states. Overpopulation 
made itself felt gradually in the industrial and commercial districts of the 
North ; the War of 1812 had crippled our commerce considerably ; a series 
of poor years in New England caused the farmers of that region to lend 
willing ears to the tales of the rich western country. Moreover, the Indian 
tribes had been removed from ]\Iohawk Valley, and the way to the West 
lay open. By 1810 western New York was settled, although not densely 
peopled. By 1820 a fringe of population encircled Lake Erie. In 1825 
the Erie Canal was completed, providing, together with the Hudson River 
and Great Lakes, a cheap water route from the Atlantic to the Middle West. 
Upon this northern route was exerted also the greatest pressure of popula- 
tion from the densely settled states of the Northeast. It is not surprising 
therefore that the Erie Canal drained off the surplus population with un- 
precedented rapidity. Settlements spread south rapidly from Lake Erie 
to join the older Southern settlements of Ohio and Indiana. For a brief 
period the peninsula of Michigan held settlers back from the Illinois terri- 
tory. Only a few had the hardihood to carry their goods across from ]\Iau- 
mee Bay or Detroit into northern Illinois. By 1832, however, steamboats 
were carrying passengers to the ports of Lake Michigan; and in that year 
emigration by lake to Illinois began in full force.^^ 

A few Southern settlers still came into upper Illinois Valley in the 
thirties. After 1831 they were brought by steamers that plied the Illinois 
as far as Ottawa. There was but a handful of these Southerners, however, 
and they were lost in the mass of Northern emigrants who came at this time 
and almost from the start dominated the region and fixed upon it the stamp 
of northern institutions in church and social life as well as in government. 
The proportion of Northern to Southern emigrants is shown by the roll of 
old settlers of La Salle County, compiled in 1877.^^ There were in the 
county at that time 80 settlers from New York and New Jersey, 58 from 
New England, 59 from Ohio, 31 from Pennsylvania, and 21 from the South. 

"Armstrong, Perry, Address Old Settlers' Association, July 4, 1876, Morris. 
^^La Salle County directory, 1858, Ottawa, Introduction. 
"Baldwin, E., History of La Salle County, 1877. 



152 UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 

The seven eastern townships of Bureau County had 655 settlers from the 
Northern states and only 54 from the South.i 7 

For several years preceding 1832 upper Illinois Valley received occa- 
sional settlers from the East. These came most of the way by wagon from 
Toledo or Detroit, or from the settlements of central and southern Ohio. 
It was thus that some of the first settlers came to Ottawa and to Dayton 
Township in 1829 ;^^ that a group of colonists from Ohio, Pennsylvania, and 
New England reached Putnam County in 1829 to 1830, forming the Union 
Grove settlement ;i'^ and that the Plampshire colony from Northampton, 
Massachusetts, came to Princeton in 1831.20 

The development of steamboating on the Great Lakes, more than any 
other factor, facilitated the settlement of northern Illinois. The difficulties 
of transportation which previously had kept many emigrants from push- 
ing westward to Illinois were removed as steamboats established routes to 
Chicago. For several years after steamboats appeared on Lake Michigan, 
however, they could not accommodate the crowds of emigrants, and even 
in the late thirties the overland route still was used.^^ In 1833 the lake 
steamers carried more than 43,000 emigrants west from Buffalo^^ and in 
1839 a regular line of steamboats was established. In the summer of 1835, 
1,200 persons are said to have left Buffalo daily for the West,^^ and in 1839 
a regular line of steamboats was established which plied between Buffalo 
and Chicago. The cost of transportation was cut from year to year, and 
by 1840 the fare from Buffalo to Chicago had fallen to $20. This rate was 
reduced to $10 in 1850. In 1852 the trip was made in from four to six 
days at a cost of $4 to $8.2-1 

One of the first regions west of Lake Michigan to be settled by North- 
ern emigrants was Illinois Valley. The sandy plains about Chicago re- 
pelled the settler. Outside the valleys of the Illinois and its tributaries, 
most of northeastern Illinois was prairie, at first shunned by the settlers. 
The first settlements by Northern emigrants were in the timbered belts 
along the valleys, in sites corresponding to those of the Southern woods- 



"Summarized from a list of tax-payers of Bureau County in ' 'Voters and tax-payers of 
Bureau County." 

^''Keyes, Directory of La Salle County; and Baldwin, E., History of La Salle County, re- 
late that in 1829, several settlers came from Licking County, Ohio, with four yokes of ox teams 
hitched to their wagons. They were 45 days on the road, often making less than ten miles per day. 

'"Ford, H. A., History of Putnam County, p. 90, 1860. 

-"Matson, Nehemiah, Reminiscences of Bureau County, p. 261. 

=^Baldwin, E., History of La Salle County, p. 121, 1877. Baldwin left Connecticut in 1835, 
went by steamboat to Albany, thence by rail to Schenectady, and from Schenectady by canal- 
boat to Buffalo. A steamer took him from Buffalo t'> Detroit, and from there he followed the 
territorial road to the mouth of the St. Joseph River. A lumber schooner afforded transportation 
to Chicago. The stage line to Ottawa was engaged for so many days ahead that he left Chicago 
on foot for La Salle County. 

--Pooley, W. v., Settlement of Illinois from 1830 to 1850, p. 359, 1908. 

=='Idem, p. 360. 

^'^Curtiss, D. S., Western portraiture, p. 303, 1852. 



SKTTLEMKNT AND DKVKLOPMKNT 153 

men before them. In Putnam County, Ox Bow Pi'aii'ie and Union Grove 
were settled in 1831, and a settlement was made at rji'anville in 1834. The 
settlement of Bureau County had Ix-eii retai-ded by Indian raids during 
the Black Hawk War, and its population did not i^row much until after 
1834. In 1836 alone, however, the poi)ulation of the county more than 
doubled, for durin^ the preceding sunnner the Indian land of the northern 
])art of the county had been thrown oi)en to settlement. The first northern 
settler in La Salle County located near Ottawa. In 1835 the Eockwell colony 
was established near La Salle by settlers from Norwich, Connecticut, but 
was soon broken up by sickness. As in Bui'cau County, the year 1836 
brought the largest number of emigrants to La Salle County ;-^ at this time 
the towns of Dayton, Ottawa and Marseilles were laid out. Grundy County, 
consisting mostly of prairie, was settled later, the earliest settlers locating 
probably on the site of Morris, in 1834.2" Channahon in Will County, was 
settled in 1833, and received a large addition from Ncav York in 1834. 

From the headwaters of the Illinois the wave of northern emigration 
spread south and west and mingled with the earlier Southern settlers who 
had pushed up lower Illinois Valley and its tributaries. By 1840, settle- 
ments extended from Chicago to the mouth of the Illinois. By 1850, set- 
tlements had spread out over all the smaller prairies. 

Conditions of Pioneer Life 
problem of the prairies 

The newly arrived emigrant found himself in a region to Avhich his old 
home offered few parallels. In spite of the voluminous advice of guide 
books for emigrants, he w^as a stranger in a strange land. One of the great 
prol:)lems which confronted the settler from the wooded hills of New Eng- 
land was the almost level and nearly treeless prairie, which covered much 
of the State. 

The prairies of Illinois are essentially the uneroded, drift-covered up- 
land, and the wooded lands are chiefly narrow belts, marginal to the val- 
leys of the streams. At the time of settlement, the woods and the prairies 
were distributed as follows r^^ (1) Southern Illinois was chiefly woodland, 
with small detached prairies in the interstream areas. (2) South and west 
of a line from Rock Island to Peoria, and thence to Champaign, mixed 
woodland and prairie prevailed, the proportion of prairie to woodland in- 
creasing away from Mississippi Valley. (3) North and east of this line the 
land was mostly prairie. East-central and northern Illinois were covered 



^Kett, Past and present of La Salle County, p. 194. 

-"Armstrong, Address at Old Settlers' Reunion, Morris, 1876. 

-•See map in Gerhard, Illinois as it is, p. 216, reproduced also as figure 35 in Bulletin 15, 
111. Geol. Survey. 



154 UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 

by a younger till sheet than the country to the west and south, and hence 
the northeastern part of the State is less dissected by streams and also has 
less timber. The belt of woodland along Illinois Valley divides this region 
into two parts, the eastern of which was known as the Grand Prairie. 
(4) The extreme northwestern part of the State, which remained unglaci- 
ated, was a wooded area. 

The counties of upper Illinois Valley belong to the third of the divi- 
sions mentioned, in which the valleys of the Illinois and its tributaries 
formed the largest timbered area. The pioneer in this region had the choice 
of homesteading in the timber, or at its margin, or out on the open prairie. 
During the first years, homesteads were taken up in the timber or along its 
edge; the open prairie was avoided, and many thought it must always re- 
main waste land. In 1821 a man sent to explore upper Illinois Valley for 
a colonization site reported that he had found there no site suited for such 
a purpose.28 Even in 1834 a traveler wrote of the desolation of these 
plains.29 Some of the objections to the prairie were based on superstitions 
that were soon dispelled, others were due actually to adverse conditions. 
Some of them were: (1) One of the early superstitions held that the 
prairie was a desert, unable to support any vegetation other than native 
grasses. The absence of timber was considered an evidence of the poverty 
of the land. This idea was expressed by Monroe in a letter to Jefferson -.^^ 
"A great part of the territory is miserably poor, especially that near Lake 
Michigan and Erie, and that upon the Mississippi and Illinois consists of 
extensive plains which have not had from appearances, and will not have, 
a single bush upon them for ages. The districts therefore Avithin which 
these fall will perhaps never contain a sufficient number of inhabitants to 
entitle them to membership in the Confederacy." This notion soon was 
disproved, as the settlers became acquainted with the rich black soil and the 
luxuriance of the grassy growth upon it. (2) Another prejudice, less 
readily discredited, pictures the winter climate of the prairies as too severe 
for human habitation. Wonderful talcs of the bitter western winters cir- 
culated through the country for years. In Hoffman's "A winter in the 
West," are painted doleful pictures of the Avinter climate, and emphasis 
is placed on the prodigious effect of the freezing winds from the Rocky 
Mountains which "Do sorely ruffle; for many a mile about, there's scarce 
a bush." "The general impression was that only the timber belts would 
ever be inhabited. The prairie, swept by the fires of summer and the 
piercing blasts of winter, seemed little better than a desert, and for several 
years there was not a cabin in Grundy C^ounty, l)uilt more than 100 yards 



■•^'Baldwin, E., History of La Salle County, Narrative of Hodgson's exploration, pp. 76-78, 
1877. 

-"Hoffman, C. F., A winter in the West, Letter 18. 

'"Writings, vol. 1, p. 117. 



SETTLEMENT AND DEVELOPMENT 155 

from the limlKT."-' The lu'licf that the i.rairic was trooless because of the 
severity of the winter remained prevalent for some time. (3) The tall 
grasses of the prairie Avere highly inflammable when dry, and the danger 
from fires was great to the first prairie homesteads. A prairie fire, once 
started, might sweep over miles of the nearly flat surface faster than man 
could ride. In numerous instances houses and crops were destroyed by 
such fires. (4) The matted roots of the prairie grasses formed a tough, 
heavy sod which the pioneer found it difficult to break with the weak tools 
and the few draft animals in his possession. Heavier plows were made 
presently, and in a few years a plow was developed with a mould board 
shaped especially to turn the heavy sod. In a few years also, the farmer's 
stock had increased so that he no longer was handicapped by a lack of 
working animals. (5) The apparent lack of water on the prairie deterred 
settlers Only after some time did they discover that water was accessible 
by shallow wells almost everywhere on the prairie. (6) In areas remote 
from wooded valleys, the lack of wood formed an insuperable barrier to 
settlement. Timber for buildings, fences, fuel, tools, and other purposes, 
was an absolute necessity. (7) The large prairies were unavailable for 
settlement so long as the only means of transportation was by wagon or 
horseback. The cost of hauling farm products to market and of getting 
necessities not produced on the farm limited the pioneer settlements to 
sections which could ship by some waterway. 

For these and other reasons, the settlement of the prairie was difficult. 
In the timbered belt, on the other hand, conditions were favorable for home- 
steading. Cultivatable land was to be had in the creek bottoms, and at the 
edge of the prairies, where the sod was less heavy than farther from the 
timl)er. The hillsides furnished many springs of good water. Near them 
the frontiersman generally built his cabin and his barn. The valley slopes 
also sheltered buildings from prairie fires and winter winds. Above all, 
here was timber in abundance, and here, in most cases, the pioneer had 
easy access to water routes. 

The pioneer was thus limited by the conditions of his environment to 
the timbered areas. The first homes were built in or along the edge of 
the best timber.- Even how, descendants of some of the first settlers speak 
of ''the old homestead down in the timber," which has been abandoned in 
most cases for a modern home well out on the prairie. A number of large 
timbered valleys favored the early settlement of La Salle County, and their 
absence retarded settlement in Grundy County. In La Salle County the 
first settlers located in the valleys of the Illinois, the Big Vermilion, and 
the Fox. A dozen families which settled along the timber of Nettle and 

3'Baskin, History of Grundy County, p. 148. 
'-Baldwin, E., History of La Salle County, p. 87, 1877. 



156 UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 

Au Sable creeks in the early thirties, formed the nucleus of settlement in 
Grrundy Couiity.^^ In Putnam County, immigration "spread over the 
country in every direction, like a flood, so that nearly every grove of timber 
soon found an inhabitant. "^^ In Bureau County, the earliest settlements 
were along the timber of Bureau Creek.-^^ The northern and western parts 
of Bureau County, the southern and northwestern parts of La Salle County, 
and the northern part of Grundy County, are all open prairie, and these 
sections were not settled until years later. In the rest of the region the 
expansion of settlement from woodland to the adjacent prairie came about 
easily and naturally. 

IMPROVEMENT OF THE HOMESTEAD 

In all his activities the pioneer had to adapt himself to his new sur- 
roundings. Institutions and methods brought from the East were modi- 
fied to meet the needs of his altered conditions. 

The establishment of a "claim" required at first merely that the set- 
tler cultivate and harvest a crop, the amount thereof not being specified. 
' ' A rail fence of four lengths was often seen on the prairie, the ground en- 
closed, spaded over, and sowed in wheat, "^o ti^^, right to land was secured 
by its possession. Most of the people living in the region were homesteaders, 
and they banded together when occasion demanded for the protection of 
their interests against land speculators. If a settler failed to file a pre- 
emption claim, his neighbors saw that he had the opportunity to bid in his 
land at the minimum price when it was offered for sale. Speculators were 
handled roughly by settlers if they attempted to bid in improved claims. 
By the primitive law of the pioneer every settler had a right to the place 
on which he had located, and anyone Avho interfered was apt to meet with 
violence."'" 

The first improvement which the settler pi-ovided was shelter for him- 
self and his goods. In a few days he could build a log cabin with the ready 
aid of his neighbors. "Let a man and family go into any of the frontier 
settlements, get a shelter or even camp out, call upon the people to aid him, 
and in three days from the start he will have a comfortable cabin, and be- 
come identified as a settler."'"'' C*abin raising offered an opportunity to 
the neighbors for miles around for a welcome holiday to relieve the monot- 
ony of the frontier life. In most cases the materials for the cabin were 
secured on the homestead. Rudely hewn logs were used for the walls, and 
logs more carefully split i)rovidcd the puncheon floor, if there was such a 



'^Armstrong, Address at Old Settlers' Reunion, 1876. 
^"Hennepin Journal quoted in Mitchell, Illinois, in 1837, p. 100. 
^'-'Matson, Nehemiah, History of Bureau County, p. 87. 
^"Baldwin, E., History of La Salle County, p. 131, 1877. 
=''Idem, p. 131. 
^"'Mitchell, S. A., Illinois in 1837, p. 68. 



SETTLEMENT AND DEVELOPMENT 157 

luxury. Wooden i)iiis were used instead of nails, and at the coi'nci's of the 
cabin the logs were secured l)y hcin-i- notelied and fitted into eaeh othei-. 
(-racks in the wall were chinked with clay. The chimney was generally 
built of timber and plastered inside and out with a mortar of sand and 
clay. Furniture and utensils were homemade. Bedsteads comiiionly wei'C 
built into the corners of the cabin, and were of the most simi)le eonstruc- 
tion.-'» 

Breaking the sod was a long and arduous task for the early settler. 
The sod was strong and heavy, the plows wei'c weak and clumsy, and his 
stock was generally in none too good condition. The eai'liest i)i'acticc con- 
sisted in hitching six to ten yoke of oxen to a plow that cut a fui'i-ow two 
to three feet Avide.^'^ To the plow was attached a heavy plow beam, framed 
into an axle and supported by clumsy wheels cut from oak logs. These 
unwieldy plows fortunately soon were supplanted by the light highly 
polished shear-plow which slipped through the heavy sod like a knife."*' 
The improved plows turned up a strip of turf 18 to 24 inches wide, re- 
quired only three yoke of oxen, and effected a considerable saving of time.^- 

Wild prairie grasses furnished food for the live stock until the first 
crop w^as raised. They tided many a farmer over the period wdiile he was 
breaking the ground and growing his first crop and was without other food 
for his Avork animals. The wild grasses made excellent hay, especially 
those which grew on low^ ground. "^-^ Patches of prairie grass were often 
kept for pasturage, but commonly they were killed out in a few years, as 
they w ere not well adapted to grazing. 

The first crop planted was almost invariably corn. The first year's 
yield was knowai as "sod corn" and made about half an average crop."*^ 
Methods of planting were born of the exigencies of the times ; in many cases 
the upturned turf w^as gashed with an axe, and the seed corn dropped in."*^ 
After the first crop a harrow could be used, and the ground was put in 
fairly good shape for the second crop. This was often some small grain 
such as wheat or barley, though in many fields corn was raised exclusively 
for many years. On the whole agricultural methods were crude and ineffi- 
cient. As land was to be had almost for the asking, and anyone could 
grow enough to support himself and family, careful husbandry was not 
necessary. Wheat, for instance, was sowed among the corn stalks of the 



'^Baldwin, E., History of La Salle County, p. 134, gives an animated description of the 
building of such a cabin. 

*'Idem, p. 136. 

"Curtiss, D. S., W'estern portraiture, p. 291, 1852. 

^-Beck, quoted in Mitchell, Illinois in 1837, p. 14. 

"Baldwin, E., History of La Salle County, p. 171, 1877. 

"Beck, quoted in Mitchell, Illinois in 1837, p. 14. 

♦^Baldwin, E., History of La Salle County, p. 137, 1877. 



158 UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 

previous summer's growth. It is said that the crops produced were on 
the average not more than half as large as they are today. 

Agricultural machinery came into general use before 1850. Drills and 
harvesters were among the first to be introduced, and soon were used al- 
most universally. By 1850 mowing machines and threshers had proved 
successful.**'^ The use of farm machinery spread much more rapidly in this 
section than it did in the Eastern States, for labor was difficult to secure 
as long as homesteads were waiting for entry ; also the nearly level prairie 
surface made farming by machinery particularly easy and profitable. 

As long as large areas of prairie grass remained, there was great dan- 
ger of prairie fires. "From the first frost until spring, the settler slept 
with one eye open, unless the ground was covered Avith snow. "^^ Until 
most of the land had been put into cultivation, it was customary to protect 
the farm buildings by plowing a strip about the farm yard, to save the 
buildings, if not the crop. 

The cost of securing a homestead and improving it was not great. In 
man3^ cases the only cash expended was the fee of $1.25 per acre paid to 
the land office. Breaking the prairie sod was estimated to cost about $2.00 
an acre. The cost of fencing was greater than the initial cost of the land. 
Cabin and outhouses cost little or nothing, if timber was close at hand. 
It was estimated by contemporary writers that a quarter section could be 
bought and improved for $1,000 or less.-*^ The opportunities were unsur- 
passed for men of limited means Avho were willing to bear hardships and 
could labor patiently.^^ 

FARE OF THE PIONEER 

For a number of years the settler w^as limited virtually to the produce 
of his farm, as markets were inaccessible, and as he had no means of dis- 
posing of his surplus. His food was simple, but sufficient. Cornmeal, 
hominy, potatoes, and pork comprised his bill of fare; later, wheat flour 
was added. The first industry established in the region was grist milling. 
The first mill was built at Dayton in 1830, and for a short time its nearest 
competitor was the mill at Peoria.^^ Soon a second mill was built on In- 
dian Creek,^! and in 1841 a large grist and flour mill was built at Marseilles 
on Illinois River. These mills supplied the central part of the upper Illi- 
nois and the lower Fox River country. In the early thirties grain was 
shipped from Bureau County for grinding. In the eastern part of the 

■"•Curtiss, D. S., Western portraiture, p. 291, 1852. 

^'Baldwin, E., History of La Salle County, p. 145, 1877. 

^Mitchell, Illinois in 1837, pp. 14 and 69. 

■"^Hunt's Merchants' Magazine, vol. 3, p. 35. 

""Kett, Past and present of La Salle County, p. 182. 

"Keyes, Directory of La Salle County, 1872, Introduction to Dayton Township. 



SETTLEMENT AND DEVELOPMENT 159 

rc^'i(Mi H mill was Iniilt at ('hannahoii in 1837. In many i)laec.s no grist mill 
was accessible, and the settler or, more often, his wife, ground the meal by 
hand, generally by ponndiiig corn in the mortal'/'^ Bad weather and bad 
roads forced many a family to live for weeks on meal prepared in this 
manner. 

There Averc times when crops failed and provisions had to be shipped 
into the region. This was difficult and tedious, and famine came close to 
many homes at such times. ^^ Food is known to have been brought from 
points hundreds of miles distant. It is related that at one time two men 
traveled to central Illinois, a distance of almost 200 miles, to buy corn, 
have it ground, and bring it to the upper Illinois settlements. On another 
occasion a keel boat was sent down the Illinois to the settlements on Sanga- 
mon River to buy grain for the settlers about Ottawa. 

INSTITUTIONS AND SOCIAL LIFE 

Unlike the settlers from the South, the Northern pioneers of this area 
came from a densely peopled region in which farms were small, and in 
which many of the people lived in villages or towns. They had, therefore, 
developed social institutions to a more advanced form than their Southern 
neighbors. Church, government, and school were transplanted from New^ 
England to the prairie home. A number of colonies brought their minister, 
almost invariably Congregational, and most of them erected a house of 
worship almost as soon as they had built their cabins. Schools also were 
valued highly. In 1828 a "select" school was organized at Ottawa, and in 
a few years a log school house stood by the side of the log meeting house, 
and both were attended with equal zeal. The first courthouse and jail were 
built at OttaAva in 1830,^''^ three years after the first election had been held. 
The township goveniment of this part of the State is also a Northern in- 
stitution, imported bodily. 

Pioneer days offered little opportunity for social contact. Settlers 
were few and scattered widely, roads often were impassable, and the task 
of improving the homestead required unceasing attention. Pioneering Avas 
especially hard on the Avomen, Avho Avere kept at home almost constantly 
by their household duties. The isolation and monotony of pioneer life 
broke doAvn many settlers, or impaired seriously their Avorking ability. 
BaldAvin, pioneer historian, says that homesickness Avas a real disease, in 
some cases a deadly one. "The bodies only of a great many people and 
not their minds" lived in the country of their adoption. •''•''' Thore could 
be slight progress as long as the heart of a man Avas still in his eastern 



^■■'Matson, Nehemiah, Tax-payers and voters of Bureau County, p. 99. and Baldwin, p. 129. 

"History of La Salle County, p. 464, 1886. 

"Keyes, Directory of La Salle County, Historical introduction. 

'=Ford, H. A., History of Illinois, p. 230, 1860. 



160 UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 

home, and his mind turned unwillingly to the problems of his new sur- 
roundings. Naturally every opportunity to break this isolation was seized 
upon eagerlj^, and holidays were celebrated w^ith an enthusiasm which seems 
strange and crude today. Log cabin raisings, elections, political campaigns, 
corn-husking bees, and above all camp meetings — these were the entertain- 
ments of the pioneers. To these simple pleasures the people looked forward 
eagerly, and from them they drew food for later reflection and conversation. 
News was scarce and traveled slowly. Stray copies of newspapers were 
read eagerly for news of the outside world. The first local newspaper was 
established at Hennepin in 1837. Two years later, a weekly sheet began 
publication at Peru. In 1840 the Ottawa Free Trader was established. It 
was not until 1852 that a newspaper was started in Grundy County; at 
this time half a dozen papers were issued in the upper valley. Because of 
the devious and slow means of communication and consequent lack of news 
these early papers were filled largely with poetry, essays and stories. The 
few local happenings were supplemented by clippings from the metropoli- 
tan papers whenever they could be secured. The early local sheets pub- 
lished particularly news from the St. Louis dailies brought by boat. In 
the forties, European news was generally five weeks old, and news from 
the Atlantic coast two weeks old. Harrison's death, for instance, was re- 
ported as a rumor after twelve days, and confirmed after nineteen.^*^ In 
the press, as in all other social institutions of the day, the isolation of the 
pioneer finds expression as the dominant feature of his life. 

HEALTH CONDITIONS 

The Prairie States, notably healthful now, once were reputed very un- 
healthful. This early opinion was in part superstition based on a general 
distrust of the prairies. That sickness, however, was much more prevalent 
in the pioneer days than at present, is well known. Among the early set- 
tlers the few physicians and consequent lack of medical attention may be 
assigned as one reason. Most of the settlers were ignorant of hygiene and 
neglected the drainage and sanitation of their premises. The nearly level 
prairie afforded little or no natural drainage, so that often the accumulated 
refuse of the farm polluted the water which the settler drank and the air 
which he breathed. Climatic conditions were new and strange, and it took 
the settler some time to adjust himself to them. Finally, the prairie itself 
probably bore the seeds of sickness to a greater extent than it does today. 
There were many stagnant pools of water, and most of the soil Avas ill 
drained. Under such conditions malaria, typhoid, and similar fevers were 
pi'evalent. 



^'Ottawa Free Trader, volume for 1840. 



SKTTLEMENT AKD DEVELOPMKXT jgj 

''Fever and ajiue" \veie the seoiii-j^e of the i)ioncer and were thouj?ht 
generally to be caused by the breaking of the prairie sod from which were 
said to issue "poisonous miasmas," especially in late summer and fall. 
Chills and fever broke up the Northampton colony near La Salle. The 
summer of 1838 was marked by an exceptional amount of sickness ; in the 
river towns nearly all were sick and many died, and at La Salle thei-c were 
said to l)e 300 graves in the fall on which it had never rained. A heavy 
spring tlood followed by extreme heat in August is said to have favoi-ed 
the development of disease from the backwater of the i-i\er."*' When the 
farmers learned to build away from mai'shes, on elevations with natural 
drainage, their health improved greatly.^* As the gi-ound became culti- 
vated, the surface drained, and the farms ^sapplied with well water, malarial 
fevers tended to disappear, and the evil reputation of the prairies gradu- 
ally was forgotten. 

TRANSPORTATION 

During the first years, the settler found neither time nor urgent need 
for the construction of transportation lines. Lentil he had improved his 
homestead and won from it a living, he could not give attention to means 
of communication. As long as his farm yielded no surplus, the pioneer had 
scant need of markets in which to exchange his products. These Avere the 
days of home-made products, from food to clothing. A few primitive stores 
supplied tools, tobacco, drugs, and the other articles which the simple needs 
of the people demanded. During this period the only highways were those 
furnished by nature — streams and the level surface of the prairie — and 
for a time they were reasonably adequate. 

Illinois River was the first great highway of this part of the State, and 
by it the first settlers came into the region. In 1825 a man named AValker 
came up the Illinois in a keel boat as far as Ottawa"'^ and for the next 
decade Illinois River furnished the principal connection with the world 
outside. The upper river was of some importance commercially until about 
1860, but after 1848 it served chiefly as a feeder to the Illinois and Michi- 
gan Canal. The earliest river traffic Avas carried by log canoe, keel boat, 
barge, and raft. These craft usually were home made, and were used only 
to float produce doAvn stream, although an occasional boat, laden Avith pro- 
visions from the South, Avas toAved against the current. Before 1820 steam- 
boats had been adapted to the needs of navigation on inland riA-ers, but 
not until 1831 did the first steamboat penetrate to the upper Illinois Yal- 
ley. For several years afterAvard only an occasional boat ventured above 

^'Baldwin, E., History of La SaJle County, p 159: also, Baskin, History of Grundy County, 
p. 151. 

^"Mitchell, niinois in 18.37, p. 69. 

•■^Introduction to Directory of La Salle County, 1858-1859. 



162 UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 

Peoria.^^ Ottawa was the absolute head of navigation, but except in time 
of flood boats could not pass the rapids above Utica. Even Utica was not 
a satisfactory shipping point because of the bars built into the Illinois be- 
low it by the Vermilion rivers. Most of the steamboats, therefore, stopped 
at Peru, which became the chief river town of the upper valley. It was 
located where the stream washes the base of a high terrace on the northern 
side of the valley. The site afforded good landing and protection from 
floods. Depue was the other river town of this region. Illinois River was 
never of such importance to the people of this section as to the people of 
the middle and lower valley. Little mention of steamboating or river traf- 
fic is made, either in the press of the day, or in local history. The bars and 
rapids of the river cut off the eastern two-thirds of the region from the 
benefits of river transportation. In 1848 the Illinois and Michigan Canal 
diverted the trade of the region eastward, and thereafter a large part of 
the river traffic consisted of through cargoes from the South and West, 
shipped to New York by way of the canal. 

Wagon trails across the prairie were used considerably. The earliest 
traces followed Indian trails, beaten paths a foot or two wide in the sod.^^ 
Several of the early roads were originally mail routes. In 1828 Kellogg 's 
trail was laid out from Peoria to Galena and along it were made the first 
settlements in Bureau County, namely, Senachwine, Boyds Grove, and the 
settlements on Bureau Creek.*^^ j^i 1832 a mail route was established from 
southern Illinois to Chicago via Decatur, Ottawa, and Fox River. A few 
years later the settlers began to haul their surplus products to Chicago, and 
in the middle thirties a number of roads were worn by the loaded market 
wagons. It was at this time that the Bloomington-Chicago road, which 
passed through southern Grundy County, began to be outlined by the 
droves of live stock going to market and the return teams hauling salt and 
supplies.6'5 In the thirties also a road from Ottawa to Joliet and Chicago 
was established. Such a road, once fixed, was followed carefully, as it was 
easy to get lost, or at least to wander from the direct road on the feature- 
less prairie.*^ ^ After rains, and during the spring thaw, the roads often 
became impassable for weeks at a time. Bridges wei'e unknown in this part 
of the State, and streams were crossed at fords. At times streams in flood 
isolated whole settlements from outside communication, and even caused 
loss of life. It is recorded*^ ^ that before a bridge was built across the Big 



"Tord, H. A., History of Putnam County, p. 96, 1860. 

"'Baskin, History of Grundy County, p. 152. 

"-'Matson, Nehemiah, History of Bureau County, p. 87. 

••"Baskin, History of Grundy County, p. 155. 

'^Baldwin, E., History of La Salle County, p. 140-141, tells of misleading mirages, of pio- 
neers who lost their lives on the prairie during the winter, and of other adventures of the 
prairie traveler. 

"Idem, p. 140. 



SETTLEMENT AND DEVELOPMENT I53 

Vemiilion twenty-five people were di-nwiuMl wliilc attempting to ford the 
stream in flood-time. But crude as were these trails and the conveyances 
that creaked upon them, they afforded the settlei-s a means of communica- 
tion, and the i)ioneers of eastern La Salle and (ii'undy counties an outlet to 
the eastern market. 

Boom Days and Their Collapse 

Like most promising? countries, this region passed through a period of 
exaggerated enthusiasm for its own future, a period in wliich "possibilities 
appeared highly probable ; and probabilities wore the livery of certainty 
itself. "*^^ The boom days began in 1835, several years after settlement 
began in force, and at the time when the opportunities of the country first 
began to be generally appreciated. Eastern people and Eastern capital 
flowed into the country as never before. Once started, the spirit of specu- 
lation fired the imagination of settler and investor alike, and few did not 
dream of fortunes to be made over night. Values were inflated to an al- 
most incredible extent, and the feverish optimism of the fortune hunter 
blurred the commonly clear vision of the pioneer and business man. 

Farm values increased tremendously, but speculation concerned itself 
especially Avith town-site real estate. Chicago became the great market for 
town lands ; plats of towns for many miles around were auctioned off con- 
stantly, and they are mentioned as Chicago's chief "article of export" in 
ISSe.*'" A cross-road furnished an ideal and rarely neglected opportunity 
for locating a town, and great cities were to be built in the prairie where 
there was neither road nor river. ^'^ ToAvns already in existence saw them- 
selves destined to become great cities. Peru was heralded as a rival of 
Chicago for the control of the interior. The following extracts are from a 
contemporary letter to the Pennsylvania Inquirer: "This place will un- 
questionably become one of the greatest inland towns in the West, and 
second only to Chicago. A traveler riding through would smile if you were 
to tell him that this place was destined to become a city. One humble tene- 
ment is all it boasts, and a stranger w^ould be apt to imagine when you told 
him that a town was laid out there, and that lots were commanding from 
$1,000 to $2,500 apiece that the speculative fever was raging with all- 
pervading influence. And but a few short months ago, the land there, was 
entered for a dollar and a quarter per acre- — now it will readily command 
from 5,000 to 10,000 dollars per acre. * * * * Come then and view this 
rich, this growing, this flourishing country — examine its resources. See the 
field that is opened for enterprise and talent. * * * * My word for it, a 



""Ford, H. A., History of Illinois, p. 183, 1860. 

""Ford, H. A., History of Illinois, p. 181, 1860. 

"^Baldwin, E., History of La Salle County, p. 174, relates how a young orchard of his 
was mistaken repeatedly as the site of a new city. 



164 DPPER ILLIJ^OIS VALLEY 

city life Avill lose its charms and you will, without a sigh bid it farewell, 
take up your staff and come and pitch your tent in the great, the growing, 
the mighty, the boundless West. "*^''''' The falls of the Illinois were to make 
of Marseilles a second Low^ell or Fall River. C'hannahon, at the confluence 
of three sti'cams, none of which was navigable, was to become a great junc- 
tion of commercial routes. AVild as were these speculations, they pale be- 
fore the projects of towns that never existed. In most cases their very 
names are forgotten. The names of a few of them have been preserved, 
among them Gibraltar, which was to occupy the site of Starved Rock, per- 
haps in anticipation of the future profits of the summer resort, Kankakee 
City, Dresden, and Three Rivers. There are not six houses today on the 
sites of all these places, yet lots of Kankakee City are said to have been 
sold in Chicago and New York for thousands of dollars. The town which 
was laid out at the mouth of the Kankakee River, was to cover 2,000 acres, 
with broad avenues and ten public squares. Plats of this projected city 
were distributed broadcast over the country, resplendent "with magnifi- 
cent buildings, busy with the traffic of capacious w^arehouses and crowded 
steamboat wharves;"™ on waters which have never even felt the churn of 
a paddle wheel. 

The chief cause underlying the land boom of the middle thirties in this 
section was the fertility of the soil. The new country to which the settler 
came had a soil better far than most of the land in his eastern home. Larger 
crops could be raised with less labor; land was cheap and the amount of 
unentered land seemed unlimited. The great agricultural possibilities sug- 
gested the opportunity for the development of prosperous cities. All that 
was necessary was to begin such a city, and the the resources of the land 
would guarantee its growth. Enthusiasm mounted higher and higher, and 
by mutual stimulation soon passed the bounds of prudence. Letters car- 
ried east the praises of the new country, and they grew in telling, until the 
western prairie appeared to contain immeasurable possibilities. 

Another cause lay in the high prices which prevailed for a time. Dur- 
ing the first years of settlement the crops grown were insufficient to feed 
the settlers and the emigrants who were pouring into the country. As a 
result crops brought high prices. From 1833 to 1837 wheat sold as high 
as $2.00 per bushel, and corn and oats for $1.00 to $1.50.^^ In Bureau 
County wheat brought $2.50 per bushel in 1836, corn $1.00, and flour $16.00 
per barrel. Grain was shipped up the river from central Illinois to supply 
the demand and cattle and sheep were driven in largely from the southern 
part of the State."- As long as immigration kept up the demand, prices 



""Quoted in Mitchell, Ulinois in 1837, pp. 135-6. 
'"Baskin, History of Grundy County, p. 320. 
"Baldwin, E., History of La Salle County, p. 110, 1877. 
"Matson, Nehemiah, History of Bureau County, p. 103. 



SETTLE MKNT AND DKVELOP.MEXT 165 

remained high, and the settlers enjoyed a prospei'ity whose cause they did 
not fully understand, but wliieli lielped gi'eatly to inflate values. 

Partly a cause of the local boom and partly its result was the glitterinj^ 
scheme of internal improvements launched about at this time. This move- 
ment shortly became the most important issue in the State, and later almost 
bankrupted the commonwealth. The handicap of insufficient means of 
transportation was felt, and it was realized that improved communication 
with the eastern and southern markets v;as al)solutely necessary. Popular 
sentiment accordingly demanded the construction of various lilies of trans- 
portation to the great seaboard markets, with local feeders throughout the 
State. The enthusiasm for internal improvements soon seized hold upon 
the legislators, especially those from the central and northei-n counties. As 
early as 1835 Governor Duncan expressed "a laudable ambition to give to 
Illinois her full share of those advantages which are adorning her sister 
states, and which a munificent Providence seems to invite by the wonderful 
adaptation of our country to such improvements."" In the spring and 
summer of 1836 resolutions were passed at mass meetings in various parts 
of the State, declaring that the resources of the State could be developed 
only by extensive improvements, and that these would pay for themselves 
by the capital which they would attract to the country. In October, 1836, 
an Internal Improvement Convention was held, and "the most wild calcu- 
lations were made of the advantages of a system of internal improvements ; 
* * * * and of our final ability to pay all indebtedness without taxation. ' ''^^ 
In Feln-uary, 1837, the Legislature appropriated $10,230,000 to be expended 
in the construction of internal improvements other than the Illinois and 
Michigan Canal. This sum was voted without previous surveys, without 
even an approximate idea of the cost of the work to be undertaken. The 
money was appropriated (1) to secure better communication with the 
southern markets, especially with New Orleans, by the improvement of the 
navigable streams of the State; and (2) to build cross-State railroads from 
north to south and east to west for the purpose of connecting points at 
opposite ends of the State, between most of which there was neither trade 
nor the prospect of large trade. The only really important improvement 
of the day was begun somewhat earlier and had been provided for sepa- 
rately; this was the construction of the Illinois and ^Michigan Canal, to 
unite the Lakes and the IMississippi system. For a brief period the glitter- 
ing scheme of internal improvement gilded the future with promises of an 
assured and immediate prosperity. 

The upper Illinois country participated in all these projects: (1) It 
was to receive a share of the $100,000 appropriated for improving the navi- 



"Governor's Message, December 7, 1835. 
"Ford, H. A., History of Illinois, p. 183. 1860. 



166 UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 

gation of Illinois River. (2) The western terminus of the Illinois and 
Michigan Canal was to be located in La Salle County. (3) The great Cen- 
tral Eailroad projected to run from the Wisconsin State line to Cairo was 
to cross the Avestern terminus of the Canal. (4) Putnam County received 
a cash bonus of about $9,000 from the consolation money distributed among 
the counties left without internal improvement. 

The boom days were brought to a sudden and disastrous end by the 
panic of 1837. These hard times were caused by morbid economic condi- 
tions throughout the country, and were aggravated by the situation in the 
State. (1) Speculation in its grossest forms had lured individuals and 
banking institutions far beyond the safety line of reliable assets. (2) As 
the new settlers filled up the region, and began to produce large crops, the 
local markets were glutted, and foreign markets were not easily accessible. 
After 1837 there was a considerable surplus of grain and livestock in the 
upper Illinois country, and the price of farm products fell to the prices at 
the eastern markets less the transportation charges, which reduced their 
value below the price of profitable production."^^ The farmers of eastern 
La Salle County hauled considerable grain to Chicago in these years. 
Bureau County shipped down stream, especially to St. Louis, although some 
grain was hauled even from here to Chicago."*^ The desperate conditions 
are strikingly illustrated by this haul of 120 miles, which some of the 
Bureau County farmers made to dispose of their products for the barest 
necessities of life. Wheat sold as low as 25 cents a bushel. Pork brought 
$1.50 per hundred in Bureau County. In La Salle County wheat sold for 
30 to 40 cents per bushel, corn for 10 to 15 cents per bushel, eggs as low as 
3 cents a dozen, and cheese and butter at 5 cents a pound.'^'' (3) Many 
towns had bonded themselves heavily, relying upon a sufficient increase in 
population to meet their liabilities. When their expectations were not 
realized, some of them were forced into bankruptcy. (4) The State en- 
gaged in many improvement schemes which were scarcely started when the 
original appropriation was exhausted. By 1840 the State had accumulated 
a debt of $14,237,348''^ and had succeeded only in getting the canal well 
under way, and in building a few short and unimportant stretches of rail- 
road. The State lands, located along the railroads and the canal, had not 
sold to the extent anticipated, and the increase in revenues from the prop- 
erty of new settlers had not materialized as had been hoped. In this year, 
the revenues of the State were less than one-seventh of the annual interest 



"Baldwin, History of La Salle Connty, p. 175, 1877. 

"Matson, Nehemiah, History of Bureau County, p. 103. 

"Kett, Past and present of La Salle County, p. 194. 

"Davidson, Alexander, and Struve, Bernard, History of Illinois, p. 448. 



settlp;ment and development 167 

on the State debt. In 1841 ])ayment of interest was stopped entirely, and 
the bonds of the State dropi)ed to 18 cents on the dollar/^ 

The results of the collapse were: (1) the ruin of the credit of the 
State, attended by an utter demoralization of financial conditions and the 
disappearance of coin from circulation; (2) the abandoinnent of all the 
improvement enterprises; (3) the stranding throughout the State of a 
great number of laborers who had been engaged in building various trans- 
portation routes; (4) the stoppage of immigration. Emigrants natui-ally 
avoided a State so burdened with debts that it appeared impossible for it 
ever to free its inhabitants from intolerable taxation. Many people left the 
State and for several years the development of Illinois seemed permanently 
blasted by its visionary schemes of improvement. 

In 1842 a conservative administration, headed by Governor Ford, be- 
gan the rehabilitation of the credit of the State. The Illinois and jNIichigan 
Canal was completed as the most promising of the projects undertaken, and 
the others were abandoned. By the middle forties payment of the public 
debt was resumed, immigration sought the State once more, and the devel- 
opment of its natural resources began again. 

Illinois and Michigan Canal 
construction 

Near'"" Summit, the Desplaines Eiver approaches within three miles 
of the South Branch of the Chicago River, and the watershed is so low that 
in wet seasons it has been obliterated entirely at times. Boats have passed 
from Lake Michigan into Chicago River, and thence to the Desplaines, Illi- 
nois, and Mississippi rivers without unloading. Caton tells of such a trip 
from Chicago to the Desplaines made in 1833 in a canoe. Others report 
that at times boats of 18 tons were floated across this divide.^'' 

The ease with which a canal might be dug to join the lakes and Illi- 
nois River, and with which it could be supplied with water from Lake Michi- 
gan, directed the minds of people to projects of this sort at an early date. 
Joliet and Marquette saw the possibility of opening such a canal as they 
portaged across this divide for the first time. At the beginning of the nine- 
teenth century, a canal was recommended for military purposes. In 1814 
President Madison advocated such a canal to provide a way to reach the 
interior, and Secretary of War Calhoun made a similar recommendation in 
1819. In 1827 Congress donated to the State every alternate section within 
five miles of the proposed canal, in all about 325,000 acres.^^ In 1829 the 



''Idem, p. 451. 

^oa poj. a good discussion of this canal see also Barrows, H. H., The Middle Illinois Val- 
ley, Illinois Geol. Survey Bull. 15. 

soHoffman, C. F., A winter in the West, vol. 2, p. 21, 1882. 

^'Preliminary Report Inland Waterways Committee 1908, pp. 178-247. 



168 UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 

construction of a canal under State authority, to join Lake Michigan and 
Illinois River, was authorized. Shortly after, a new survey placed the esti- 
mated cost at approximately $4,000,000.''- In 1834 a preliminary loan was 
made by an issue of State bonds, and in 1836 work began. A year later the 
panic came, and in 1839 work was suspended entirely. ^^ The State was 
unable to pay its canal debts in specie, and commenced issuing scrip. By 
1843 almost $5,000,000 had been expended ; and in this year the project 
of a lake level canal was abandoned for a shallow cut canal with numerous 
locks to save expense in construction. By arranging a transfer of property 
to its bond holders the project was carried to completion. When the canal 
was transferred, its affairs were in an utterly demoralized condition, as 
shown in the following tables of values of canal scrip r^"* 

Apr., 1840, value generally at par. 

May, 1840, 70 cents on the dollar. 

Dec, 1841, 40 cents on the dollar. 

Dec, 1842, 28 to 33 cents on the dollar. 

Jan., 1843, 16 to 20 cents on the dollar. 
1845, 30 to 32 cents on the dollar. 
1847, 35 cents on the dollar. 
The canal was completed in 1848, and the first boat was let through 
the locks on April 23, amidst public celebration all along the route. 

TRAFFIC 

For a number of years the canal handled almost the entire east-west 
traffic of northern and central Illinois. Figure 63 shows the chief com- 
modities carried during the first ten years of its operation, and the changes 
in their relative importance. They fall into four general groups: (1) com- 
modities chiefly shipped out, as grain, coal, pork, and lard; (2) commodi- 
ties chiefly shipped in, as lumber, siding, shingles, laths, salt, railroad iron, 
and foundry products ; (3) articles of local commerce, transferred for short 
distances along the canal, as sand, earth, and stone; and (4) through 
freight. For the shipment of the last group of commodities, the canal was 
used as a link especially in the trade between the South and the Atlantic 
Northeast. 

Of the commodities shipped out, corn speedily came to be far and away 
the most important. Before the canal was opened, wheat had been grown 
almost as extensively as corn. The cheap transportation afforded by the 
canal made it advantageous to produce the bulkier grain on the heavy, rich 
prairie soil, and wheat soon became a subordinate crop in upper Illinois 



^-Report of Canal Commissioners to the Senate of Illinois, 13th General Assembly, pp. 1-8. 
"•'Baldwin, E., History of La Salle County, p. 175, 1877. 
^Report of Abraham Lincoln and M. Johnston to the Twentieth General Assembly, First 



Session. 



SETTLEMENT AND DEVELOPMENT 



169 



Valley. Next to corn :nul wheat, but in much smalloi- (iiuiiitity, coal was 
exported most largely. In the earliest years of the canal, coal mining i'l 
this ref?ion was still in its infancy. Later the traffic in coal was secured 
by the railroads, so that this commodity was not lonf,' prominent in the 

canal traffic. 

Of the articles shipped in, lumber ranked first, and was of slif^htly 
greater importance in the canal traffic than corn. Lumber, lath, and 
shingles for buildings, posts and poles for fences, and cord wood for fuel 
were prime requisites in the development of the prairie. Until these could 




Year 



Fig. 63.— Graph showing chief commo lities carried on the canal from 1849 to 18.58. 

be supplied, the settlement of much of the prairie was impracticable. Lum- 
ber could be secured near the Great Lakes in Michigan and Wisconsin at 
very low prices and could be shipped to Chicago cheaply by boat, but the 
cost of transportation inland by wagon was so great that, until the canal Avas 
opened, it w^as cheaper to ship lumber from New York and Pennsylvania 
down the Allegheny and the Ohio rivers and thence up the Mississippi and 
Illinois rivers to Bureau or La Salle County, than to bring it from Chi- 
ca^o.s^ In 1837 pine lumber sold for $50 to $60 per thousand at St. Louis,^^ 



^'Hunt's Merchants' Magazine, vol. 41, p. 695. 
S'^Jones, A. D., Illinois and the West, p. 207, 1838. 



170 UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 

and for considerably more in the upper Illinois country. The great pine 
forests of Michigan and later those of Wisconsin furnished Chicago with 
lumber at prices much lower than those which prevailed in central Illinois. 
Chicago became a large lumber market even before the opening of the canal. 
The latter, however, furnished it with an almost unlimited outlet to the 
prairies of the middle West. The receipts of lumber in Chicago in 1848 
were 60,009,250 feet, as against 32,118,225 feet in 1847.^^' This means that 
in the year in which the canal opened the receipts almost doubled; in 
another decade they had increased tenfold. For years Chicago was the 
world's greatest lumber market, and it lost this position only when lumber- 
ing declined in the Great Lakes region. The capital attracted by the lum- 
ber trade stimulated the growth of C^hicago and established many other 
wood-using industries. This trade Avas built largely on the demands of the 
prairies, which were first made accessible bj^ the canal. To the canal, there- 
fore, belongs much of the credit for the earlier development of Chicago. 
The first canal boat which came to Ottawa carried lumber, and this boat- 
load reduced the price of lumber there from $60 to $30 per thousand and 
later shipments lowered the price still further. From 1848 on, lumber could 
be had for all purposes. Log cabins ceased to be built, and for many years 
frame houses were constructed, almost to the exclusion of brick and stone. 
Merchandise was an important item in canal traffic until 1853, when the 
first railroad in the upper valley w^as built. In transporting merchandise, 
time was a more important element than in the transportation of most other 
commodities, whereas freight charges were less important. It was natural, 
therefore, that high-priced merchandise should be handled almost immedi- 
ately by the more expeditious railroads, while the bulkier commodities con- 
tinued to be moved largely by canal. Eailroad iron formed an important 
article of import during the middle fifties, while railroads were being built 
in the territory contiguous to the canal and the Illinois River. Salt was a 
prime necessity which had to be imported, and which could be brought from 
the salines of New York more cheaply than it had been shipped in previ- 
ously from the Ohio River salt works by way of the Mississippi and Illi- 
nois rivers. The cheaper salt which the canal brought in stimulated the 
development of stock raising in this country. 

Of increasing importance in the traffic of the canal were short-distance 
hauls, by which bulky products were transported from point to point within 
the region. Much sand and gravel from pits along Illinois Valley was 
handled in this way. In the latter half of the first decade of canal traffic, 
stone was its most important item, and was used chiefly for the extensive 
railroad construction of those years. 



"Hunt's Merchants' Magazine, vol. 40, p. 229. 



SETTLEMENT AND DEVEJ.OPMENT 



171 



In the early years, through ,shi])incnts were pi'oniineiit among the items 
of eanal traffic. Grain from farther west was shipped in large quaiitity 
through the eanal. For some years nearly all the lumber shipped to central 
Illinois and Iowa passed through the eanal and down Illinois River, to be 
distributed to the prairie settlements of the middle ^Mississippi Basin. The 
Mississippi and Illinois rivers, the eanal, and the Great Lakes formed a 
great route for the shipment of goods from the lower ]\Iississippi Valley to 
the east, and vice versa. In 1849, 3,973,145 pounds of sugar, 3,659 gallons 
of molasses, 173,407 pounds of tobacco, and 307,861 pounds of hemp were 
cleared at La Salle. Curtiss^^ writes in 1852 that "merchandise of almost 



400 














300 














200 




Ai 










1 

100 


n 


/ \ 


X 








i 

^0 






V- 


^ 


-^ 




If 


50 I860 1870 1880 1890 13 JO 1307 1 



Fig. 64. — Graph showing tolls collected by Illinois and Michigan Canal from 
lS-48 to 1907. 



every description, passing from the East to the Illinois, Mississippi, or Mis- 
souri rivers, are now forwarded by way of the Lakes and the Illinois and 
Michigan Canal. AVithin a short time past, we have noticed large consign- 
ments coming up the Lakes, en route for the St. Louis market. * * * * A 
late number of the St. Louis Intelligencer notices the arrival at that place 
of a canal boat load of Porto Rico sugar, which had been brought through 
from New York. * * * * The Albany Evening Journal says: A canal boat 
is noAV in the basin * * * * laden with cotton, being the fourth which has 
brought this staple from the West this season. ' ' 



'Curtiss, D. S., Western portraiture, pp. 47-48. 



172 



UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 



The gradual changes in the character of the canal trade are shown in 
figures 64 and 65. The maximum tonnage was not reached until 1882, but 
canal tolls declined after 1865. This condition was due chiefly to three 
reasons: (1) The competition of the railroads forced a reduction of the 
toll on almost all articles, as shown by the following table : 




Fig. 65. — Graph showing tons transported on Illinois and Michigan Canal from 
1849 to 1907. 



Tolls charged per mile 1851 1856 

Cents Cents 

Freight boats, each 3.50 2.00 

Passenger boats, each 6.00 3.00 

Animals, per 1,000 lbs 0.75 0.30 

Corn, do 0.03 0.03 

Furniture, do 1.00 0.80 

Merchandise, do 1.20 0.50 

Machinery, do 1.00 0.50 



SETTLEMENT AND DEVELOPMENT 



17; 



(2) The railroads cari'ied fi'('i«>lit with mucli j^i-eatci' speed than did the 
slowly moving canal boats, and as a result the canal lost most of its high- 
prieed freight, in moving? which the savinj; of time was impoi'tant. This 
kind of freight, such as merchandise and fnrnitnre, had been especially 
profitable because of the relatively high tolls which had l)een charged. The 
traffic that remained to the canal was limited to the transportation of bulky, 
cheap connnodities. (3) The length of the average haul was cut down 
gradually, and this helped to reduce the tolls. The canal traffic depended 
increasingly upon hauls too .short to be profitable to the railroads. Foi- 
through hauls, the railroads in most cases offei'cd inducements v/ith which 
the canal could not compete. The increase in tonnage from 1854 to 1882 
is largely an increase in short-distance hauls. 

Passenger traffic on the canal was short-lived. During the first four 
years of its operation, packet boats plied regularly between Chicago and 
Peru, and made the trip in about 20 to 24 hours — a little less than the time 
required by the stage coaches."'^ The fare by packet was $4, and by freight 
boat, $2 to .$3 ; this was regarded as low at the time. At Peru the packets 
connected with steamboats for St. Louis, which cariied passengers to the 
latter place for $3 to $5. In its first years the canal served both local and 
through passenger traffic. In 1851 the highest mark was reached with 
3,411.504 passengers. The following year 2,630,713 passengers were car- 
ried, the great majority for short distances ; and in 1853, the year in which 
the first railroad was completed, the packet boats were sold, and the traffic 
abandoned. Even less than in fast freight could the canal compete with 
the railroad for the passenger trade, for the railroad provided transporta- 
tion in one-fourth the time required by the fastest packet, and at one-fourth 
less cost. The newspapers withdrew the favor they had bestowed so lib- 
erally on the genteel packet, and henceforth sounded the praises of the "iron 
horse." The canal gave w^ay in public interest to the railroad, and in a 
single season became an antiquated means of communication. 

SERVICES OF CAN.VL 

In several ways the canal was of great service in building up the 
region served by it : 

1. The canal provided a choice of markets and secured to the farmer 
profitable prices for his products. Previously most of the produce had to 
be shipped downstream to St. Louis and New Orleans and had to compete 
with crops produced nearer to these markets. Much produce had also been 
hauled tediously to Chicago. Prices almost always Avere low in New Orleans, 
because most of the time the market was glutted.^" In the upper Mississippi 

*°Curtiss, D. S., Western portraiture, p. 67. 
"Ford, H. A., History of Illinois, p. 98, 1860. 



174 UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 

Valley surplus products were unsalable at times, except where they could 
be hauled to some lake port. After 1848 the canal opened up the markets 
on the lakes and on the Atlantic seaboard. The consumption of agricultural 
produce always had been relatively small in New Orleans, and the bulk 
of its receipts was shipped eastward. By means of the canal, the farmer 
could ship via Chicago and Buffalo to New York, whereas before his produce 
had traveled a thousand miles south to New Orleans, and thence to New 
York. The northern route saved practically the cost of shipment from 
New Orleans to New Yoi-k. The advantage of the Great Lakes-Erie Canal 
route was great, because it was (a) far shorter, (b) less dangerous, and 
(c) more direct. Furthermore, (d) avoidance of the congested and inade- 
quate harbor at New Orleans saved time, and (e) the Lake route obviated 
the drawbacks of the sub-tropical climate of the Gulf region, in which most 
agricultural products deteriorated, and many spoiled. 

Prices rose with the opening of the canal, and the farmer who had only 
made a bare living, now sold his crops with profit. The following table 
shows the prices which were secured in Ottawa in 1856. 

Corn, 38-40 cents per bushel 

Wheat $1.25-$1.40 do 

Oats 27-35 cents do 

Potatoes 35 cents do 

Pork 5%-6 cents 

The freight rate for a bushel of grain from La Salle to Chicago varied 
from 4 to 8 cents and averaged 7 cents.^^ On the basis of 15 cents per 
ton-mile for w^agon haulage, the cost of transportation by wagon from 
La Salle to Chicago was about 46 cents per bushel. The canal thus effected 
an average saving of 39 cents per bushel for the crops of western La Salle 
County, which wdth an average yield for wheat of 20 bushels per acre, 
meant an added profit on wheat of $7.80 per acre, and with an average 
yield of 45 bushels of corn meant increased profits of $17.55 per acre. The 
canal made corn a paying crop in the upper valley, w^hereas previously it 
could not be marketed with profit. 

By means of the canal and Illinois River, most of the trade of north- 
ern and central Illinois that previously had gone to St. Louis was diverted 
to Chicago. Chicago, which before had struggled with St. Louis for leader- 
ship of the intervening region, now went ahead of the latter by leaps and 
bounds. The struggle became still more unequal as railroads were built 
west from Lake Michigan, and cut off still more territory that had been 
tributary to St. Louis. 

2. The canal enabled the importation of necessities needed for the de- 
velopment of the region. The lumber trade, already noted, was one of the 



"^Kett, Past and present of La Salle County, p. 196. 



SETTLEMENT AND DEVELOPMENT 175 

f^i'oatcst aids in tlic settlement of tlie j)raii'i(', and in the l)ui]dinf? of towns. 
('heai)cr salt encourajfcd the f4i'o\vin}i- of live stock. Aji'i-ieultural imple- 
ments reduced the labor of farming. Woven goods of all kinds were 
shipped in and released the farmer's wife fi'om the drudgery of the spin- 
ning wheel and the loom. A greater choice of foodstuffs was made pos- 
sible. Some of the articles which were imported increased the efficiency of 
the pioneer, and others added to the comforts of his life. The canal was 
the first great agent to break down the isolation and hai-dships of pioneer 
life in the upper Illinois Valley. 

3. The canal added to the wealth of the i-cgion, by helping to re- 
establish security in the tottering finances of the State, and by attracting 
immigi-ants into l)usiness, manufactures, and agriculture, thus stimulating 
the developnient of agricultural districts and the growth of towns. Farm 
prices arose almost as rapidly as in the earlier boom days, but this time the 
increase was legitimate, for it was based on an increased value of farm 
crops. In 1857 farm land in La Salle County was worth from $8 to $40 
per acre; timbered lands bringing $15 to $90. In Putnam County land 
which had sold for $12 to $20 an acre in 1848 had risen to $25 to $35, and 
in Will County wild prairie land which could have been bought in 1848 at 
the Congressional price, sold for $10.''2 It was estimated in 1857 that farm 
lands in La Salle County equaled in value those about Columbus, Ohio, and 
were worth $37.50 per acre more than land of equal quality at loAva City, 
Iowa, and $68.75 more than land at Des Moines, lowa.''^ 

4. The canal brought into this region the first considerable foreign 
element, large numbers of Irishmen being imported to work upon it. They 
outnumbered at times the native residents in the towns along the canal. ^^ 
During the financial crisis, from 1839 to 1843, most of them Avere thrown 



•^'Gerhard, Frederick, Illinois as it is, pp. 402-3, 1857. 
'^Campbell, A., La Salle, A glimpse at Ulinoi.s. 
Cost of transporting wheat: 





Cents per bushel 


Columbus, Ohio, to Cleveland 


10 


Cleveland to Buffalo 


4 


Buffalo to New York 


12 


Total cost 


26 


La Salle to Chicago 


7 


Chicago to Buffalo 


7 


Buffalo to New York 


12 


Total cost 


26 


Iowa City to Chicago 


19 


Chicago to Buffalo 


7 


Buffalo to New York 


12 


Total cost 


38 


Des Moines to Chicago 


29 


Chicago to Buffalo 


7 


Buffalo to New York 


12 


Total cost 


48 



Values of farm land quoted above computed from these figures on the basis of 6 per cent. 
"Baskin, History of Grundy County, p. 158. 



176 UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 

out of work, and having little or no money, had to star in this district. 
The canal contractors paid the hiborers in canal scrip, which deteriorated 
so greatly that it could not be used with profit for anything except the 
purchase of canal lands. For this, it was accepted at par value. Driven 
by necessity, many of these Irish laborers bought lands with their scrip, 
and farmed them after a fashion. Their lands made many of them wealthy 
in later years. The Irish element, descended from these involuntary set- 
tlers, is still numerous in the upper valley, both in the cities, especially in 
La Salle, and in the country. 

5. There had been little opportunity for trade before the canal was 
built, and to^\^ls were few and straggling. The canal, however, opened up 
trade, and stimulated the growth of local trade centers which collected 
produce and distributed merchandise for the country about. The growth 
of the following towns was influenced strongly by the canal : 

Peru had some river trade when the canal was begun, and it was ex- 
pected that, as the western terminus of the canal, it would become a large 
city, rivaling Chicago. ^^'' In the internal improvement scheme of 1836 it 
was planned to have the Illinois Central Railroad cross the river here. As 
the proposed junction of three important transportation lines — river, canal, 
and railroad — Peru was boomed tremendously during those years. In 1837, 
the town contained one warehouse and two or three dwellings. In that 
year, the canal contracts were let, and by the following summer it had 
426 inhabitants. The panic set in, and in 1842 less than half that number 
were left.^*^ With the return of prosperity, its growth recommenced, but 
Peru never realized the future prophesied for it. The railroad project was 
abandoned after a part of the road bed had been graded. Contrary to ex- 
pectations, the completion of the canal injured Peru. It is true that Peru 
was at the western terminus of the canal, but a "steamboat and canal 
basin" was l)uilt on the flood plain at La Salle, and this became the actual 
harbor in which steamers and canalboats mingled for the trans-shipment of 
goods. The forwarding business, after a long and ineffectual struggle on 
the part of Peru to retain it, finally settled at La Salle. 

La Salle was laid out in 1837, and the village throve by the trade of 
the canal laborers until work was stopped during the hard times. With 
the resumption of activities in 1843, the settlement grew once more. The 
completion of the canal and steamboat basin gave it considerable trade, 
particularly the important grain trade Avhich had gone previously to Peru. 
A large warehouse and grist mill, erected on the canal in 1848, formed the 
nucleus about which La Salle's later commercial and industrial interests 
developed. 



"Mitchell, Illinois in 1837, p. 135. 

*Kett, Past and present of La Salle County, p. 307. 



SETTLEMENT AND DEVELOPMENT 177 

Utica, a village originally laid out on the river a mile south of the pres- 
ent site, is said to have been supported by river trade before the canal 
opened. Utica hoped to secure the terminus of the canal, and its supporters 
charged that the terminus was placed at Peru because in the Legislature 
the deciding vote by Avhich the passage of the canal act was secured, be- 
longed to a representative from Peru. The true reason probably is to be 
found in the difficulty of navigating Illinois River above the mouth of the 
Vermilion rivers during low water. When the canal was laid out along 
the base of the bluffs, a mile north of the old village, the latter was doomed. 
In 1852 North Utica was founded on the canal, and the old village was 
abandoned. The first hydraulic cement manufactured at Utica was used 
in the construction of the canal. 

Ottawa was begun south of the river in 1830 and is now called South 
Ottawa. The first settlement north of the river, now the city of Ottawa, 
was made in 1837 when work was begun on the canal. Ottawa always has 
been dependent largely on the rural trade of La Salle County and controlled 
an even greater share of this trade before the building of the railroads than 
it does now. "Before the building of the railroads, as a grain market it 
probably was not surpassed in the State," and it is said to have handled 
about four times as much grain in the fifties as in the seventies.^''^ 

Marseilles was an industrial town from its beginning, and depended 
on the water power furnished by the rapids of the Illinois. In 1836 the 
Marseilles Manufacturing Company was chartered, and in 1837 a crude 
log dam was built across the river.^'* In 1841 a sawmill and a flouring mill 
were in operation. This industrial development was partly in anticipation 
of the commercial advantages which it was hoped the canal would offer. 

Seneca was laid out by Crotty, in the year of the completion of the 
canal, and was known for years as the village of Crotty. Its chief support 
was and is the grain trade. It shared the grain trade of eastern La Salle 
County with Ottawa, and long maintained large warehouses on the canal. 

Morris. Grundy County Avas organized out of La Salle County in 
1841. By the provisions of the act creating the ncAv county, the county 
seat was to be located on a section of the canal land, halfway between the 
eastern and the western limits of the county.^^ The town grew slowly dur- 
ing its first few years, due to the financial depression. In 1841 it is said 
to have consisted of two or three log buildings, a frame store, a small pub- 
lic house, and a few laborers' cabins. ^'"^ Upon the completion of the canal 
several warehouses were erected, and by 1850 the town had a population 
of more than 500. ^f^i 



"'Baldwin, E., History of La Sails County, p. 225, 1877. 
'^Keyes, Directory of La Salle County, p. 126, 1872. 
""Armstrong, Address at Old Settlers' Reunion, Morris, 1876. 
^""Turner, E. B., Reminiscences of Morris, 1855. 
""Baskin, History of Grundy County, p. 108. 



178 UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 

Cliannahon was laid out as a village in 1845, although settlers had 
located on the site a dozen years earlier.^"- During canal days, the vil- 
lage throve splendidly: the Channahon mills did a large business, busy 
warehouses lined the canal, and the village was the most prosperous place 
between Joliet and JMorris. Channahon controls the mouth of the Dupage 
River, and lies almost opposite the junction of the Kankakee and the Des- 
plaines. The advantages of this position were thought to assure the de- 
velopment of a thriving city. 

It is noteworthy that because the canal was built north of the river 
the principal parts of all the cities and villages in the valley have devel- 
oped north of the river. Ottawa, for example, was begun south of the 
river, but the settlement which was laid out north of the river when the 
canal was built soon outgrew the older part of the town. 

DECLINE OF THE CANAL 

After 1865 the tolls of the canal decreased rapidly, and in 1882 its 
tonnage began also to decline. Today the canal is unused, except by occa- 
sional pleasure craft. It went under in competition Avith the railroads. 
Some of these railroads secured the trade previously borne on Illinois 
River, whose commerce had helped support the canal ; one paralleled the 
canal and took away the trade of the very land which once had belonged 
to the canal ; and others were built on the prairie at no great distance from 
the valley. 

The canal could not survive the competition of the railroads for sev- 
eral reasons: 

1. Perhaps the greatest reason is to be found not in the canal itself, 
but in the unsatisfactory conditions of river navigation, (a) Illinois River 
was subject to great variation in flow^ Unfortunately, also, the period of 
lowest Avater during several years in the fifties and sixties occurred in the 
fall, when the harvested crops were waiting to be shipped. The water of 
the river was often so low in summer and fall as to make navigation im- 
possible in many places. In some years the bars built into the sluggish 
main by its tributaries reduced the navigable depth to 18 inches, or even 
less. I"'' At La Salle the bankful capacity of the river is 20,000 cubic feet, 
yet the average volume of water before the drainage flow was added was 
2,820 cubic feet, or less than one-seventh of the capacity of the channel. 
The average low water volume was 796 cubic feet, or about two-sevenths of 
the normal flow. In the late summer and fall of almost every year, the 
river proved troublesome, and in many years navigation Avas suspended for 
months at a time. In 1853 the rivei- Avas so Ioav as to be nearly useless for 



-History of Will County, 1878, p. 592. 

^Report of the Canal Commissioners, 1867, p. 51. 



SETTLEMENT AND DEVELOPMENT 



179 



navigation from Jnly to December, or during five months of the nine open 
to navigation. It was estimated tliat this drought reduced the tolls of the 
canal almost one-half for the ycar.^^'^ Without the ti-affic brought by Illi- 
nois Kiver, the canal was of little more than local imi)oi-tance. (b) Steam- 
boat navigation became more and moi-e hazardous as competition forced 
I'ival boats to develop greater s])ccd. Fires and other disasters to steam- 
boats became notoriously common, and insurance charges were raised to 
almost prohibitive rates on consignments shipped by steamboats, (c) Much 
of the river trade was carried on by wasteful business methods. ]\Iost of the 
boats were indei)endent steamers, which ran without regard to one another, 
and without definite schedule. They plied from point to ])oint as they 




Fig. 66 — Canal boat above Morris, a relic of bygone days. 



secured a cargo. Freight rates were unstable and dependent in part on the 
amount of competition from other boats. Similarly, canal traffic and river 
traffic were carried on largely without any joint tariffs. 

2. The canal was closed every winter for three to four months. Dur- 
ing almost one- third the year the canal brought in no revenue, and during 
this time all the trai^c was carried by the railroads. 

3. The carrying capacity of the canal was limited ; the canal was built 
too small at the start, and as the region developed this waterway soon be- 
came hopelessly inadequate for the transportation needs of the country it 
served. Its minimum draft of fiftv-six inches and locks of seventeen and 



"^Davidson, Alexander, and Stnive, Bernard, History of Illinois, pp. 487-488. 



180 



UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 



one-half feet length limited the canalboats to a carrying capacity of a little 
over a hundred tons. 

4. The slowness of transportation was another drawback. Towage 
was almost entirely by animals, the locks were badlj^ crowded and delays 
were frequent. As already noted, the railroads immediately took away 
from the canal the profitable passenger service and soon also the higher- 
priced fast freight, such as merchandise, furniture, and perishable produce, 
with all of which the saving of time meant the saving of money. 

5. The canal could not compete long in the carriage of through 
freight. This was because most of the goods had to be reshipped at the 




Fig. 67.- — Locks at Channahon. 



termini of the canal from steamer to canalboat or vice versa. In boatload 
lots freight often was carried through by river, canal, and lake to its des- 
tination. But smaller shipments were transferred at La Salle and Chicago 
with considerable delay and expense. The railroads avoided this trans- 
shipment, and thereby effected a saving. 

For these reasons the canal crumbled before the competition of the rail- 
road. It served its purpose in the development of the region, and having 
accomplished that, fell into decay (fig. 66). Today it is a relic of a gener- 
ation that is gone. With the melancholy exception of Channahon (fig. 67), 
the region has continued to develop without the canal. Channahon was 
avoided by railroads, and as a result Minooka ships the grain from the 



SETTLEMENT AND DEVELOPMENT 181 

region formerly tributary to Chaniuihon. In Channahon, grass grows in 
the streets, and empty houses dream of the days when the canal was busy 
with packets and barges. 

Katlroad Building 

original project 

Agitation for railroads began in Illinois before 1830. Scarcely had the 
feasibility of the steam railroad been demonstrated before enthusiasts saw 
in it the solution of the transportation problems of the interior. The first 
railroad projected in Illinois was to be a substitute for the Illinois and 
Michigan Canal and was proposed by the canal commissioners in 1833. A 
few years later mushroom projects covered the State with prospective rail- 
roads. Many of these were included in the internal improvement plan of 
the State. Among them was a road to be constructed from the mouth of 
the canal to the mouth of Ohio River, to be known as the Illinois Central 
Kailroad, so designated because it Avas to run north and south through the 
middle of the State. Two other roads, running east and west, were to 
intersect the north-south road, and were to be called Northern and South- 
ern Cross Roads. It was planned to supply all sections of the State with 
railroads whether they were needed or not. 

ILLINOIS CENTRAL RAILROAD 

The crisis of the late thirties prevented the completion of these plans, 
but the idea of the Illinois Central Railroad was revived after financial 
conditions had again improved in the State. In 1850 Congress granted 
2,005,095 acres to the State, which the latter in turn donated to a company 
organized to build a railroad from Cairo to La Salle, with branches to 
Chicago and Galena.^"'' This grant gave to the railroad a right-of-way of 
two hundred feet and title to every alternate even-numbered section lying 
within six miles of the trunk road or its branches. For lands already occu- 
pied at the time the grant was made, the deficiency was to be made up from 
the unoccupied even sections within fifteen miles of the railroad. It is said 
that because of this grant the road was laid out where there was the largest 
amount of vacant land.^^^ For some years the lands granted to the Illinois 
Central Railroad were a far more important source of revenue than the 
earnings of the traffic. The road was chartered in 1851, and opened dur- 
ing the winter of 1854-55. At LaSalle the Illinois Valley was spanned in 
its entire width by a high bridge, an extraordinary feat for that day ; the 
structure required two years for its completion. ^"^^ The Galena branch was 
completed in the summer of 1855, and the Chicago branch a year later. 

^'''''Ackerman, W. K., Early Illinois railroads, p. 35. 
"^Davidson and Struve, History of Illinois, p. 573. 
'''"Kelt, Past and present of La Salle County, p. 198. 



182 



UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 



Figure 68 shows the original main line of the Illinois Central with its 
extension to Galena. As a whole, this line for which so much had been 
hoped is no longer one of the important trunks of the Illinois Central Rail- 
road. Its most important line now runs from Chicago southward to Cairo, 
via Mattoon and Centralia. The old main line from Centralia to Cairo has 



rHE SOUTHWEST 



CHICAGO 




^OtP 



Fig. 68. — Map showing the Illinois Central system in Illinois. 



been incorporated into the line from Chicago to the Gulf. The main line 
west from Chicago utilizes that part of the original trunk line lying be- 
tween Freeport and Galena. The St. Louis-( *airo line joins the old main 
line at Carbondale. From Freeport to Centralia, including that part lying 
in La Salle County, the former main line is merely a feeder for the present 



SKTILEMKNT AND DKVKLOPMKNT 183 

trunk lines of the Illinois Ccnti-al. Considerable fi'ei<j^ht is carried on it, 
but only local passeiijici- service is maintained. The ori<riiial Illinois Cen- 
tral Railroad was built without reference either to the direction which trade 
then took, or to the future likelihood of ti-ade. There was no particular 
need for a road north and south throuj^rh the middle of the State; the road 
bisected the State with mathematical neatness, but it rested on no adequate 
geographic basis, and lacking geographic justification it had to build addi- 
tional lines which followed commercial opportunities and not geometrical 
plans. 

CHICAGO, ROCK ISLAND AND PACIFIC RAILROAD 

This road follows the Illinois River to the "Great Bend" and then 
strikes west across the prairies by way of the valley of Bureau Creek. It 
was the first road built in this region, and has been of greater importance 
in the development of the upper valley than any other. The road was char- 
tered in 1850 as the Rock Island and La Salle Railroad, to be built between 
the two cities named. Shortly aftei'Avard, a continuation was authorized 
to parallel the Illinois and Michigan Canal, "thus making a continuous 
line of railway from the city of Chicago to the head of navigation on the 
Illinois ; thence to the city of Rock Island at the foot of the upper rapids 
of the Mississippi, now generally known as the only feasible point where 
that stream can be bridged from its mouth to the falls of St. Anthony. "^^^^ 
The construction of the road was pushed vigorously, and it was opened in 
January, 1853, to Morris; in February to Ottawa; and a month later to 
La Salle. The passenger rate of four cents per mile charged by the packet 
boats was cut by the railroad, and the time of transportation was reduced 
to one-fifth of that formerly required. It was the competition of the Rock 
Island Railroad, more than that of any other, which caused the ruin of the 
Illinois and ]\Iichigan Canal, and this road has continued to carry most of 
the commerce of the upper valley to the present day. 

CHICAGO, BURLINGTON AND QUINCY RAILROAD 

The Burlington is another I'oad which was built Avest from Chicago in 
tlie early fifties and which helped to nuike Chicago the great gateway to the 
interior. It was built far enough to the north of the Illinois to avoid bridg- 
ing the deep lower tributaries of that river. It is essentially a prairie road. 
Service to Mendota Avas begun in 1854. 

From 1850 on there Avas considerable agitation in La Salle County for 
a railroad Avhich Avould develop the Avater poAvers of Fox Valley. In 1852 
the OttaAva, OsAvego. and Fox River Valley Railroad Avas chartered, but no 
Avork Avas done. In 1866 the com]>any was reoi-ganized, and in 1871 the 



"'President's Report, December, 1851, in History of La Salle County, p. 424, 1886. 



184 UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 

road was completed from Sheridan to Streator. Along this new railroad a 
number of villages sprang np, such as Sheridan and Grand Eidge, which 
are trading centers for limited farming districts. The road is now the 
Fox River branch of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad. 

OTHER RAILROADS 

In 1885 a branch of the Chicago and North Western Railroad was 
built to Spring Creek. The North Western has many lines extending 
through Wisconsin, upper Michigan, Minnesota, and the northwest, regions 
of great resources, but generally lacking in coal. The coal mines of Bureau 
and La Salle counties are the northernmost producers in Illinois and there- 
fore conveniently situated to much of the territory traversed by the North 
Western Railroad. It was to secure coal especially for its Wisconsin and 
Minnesota territory that the North Western laid this branch to Spring 
Creek and there built the coal-mining city of Spring Valley. In 1912 this 
road shipped out of Bureau County 974,920 tons of coal.i*'^. 

In 1905 the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad, with a network 
of roads in a territory similarly deficient in coal, also built a line south- 
ward into Bureau and La Salle counties. In 1906 the shaft at Cherry was 
opened, and in 1907 it extended its road from Granville to Oglesby, cross- 
ing the river on the tracks of the C. I. & S. R. R. The St. Paul Railroad 
thus opened a new mining district in La Salle County south of the river, 
and also secured access to the Portland cement district at Oglesby. This 
railroad is the heaviest carrier of coal in the region, having shipped 
1,427,786 tons in 1912.1^0. 

The other railroads within the region are Elgin, Joliet, and Eastern 
Railroad, an outer belt freight line for Chicago, which crosses the Illinois 
near its head, and penetrates the coal district of southern Grundy County. 
This road was built into this section chiefly to gain access to the Coal City 
mining region, and ranked third in 1912 in its shipments of coal, with a 
tonnage of 420,961 from Grundy County, m 

Kankakee and Seneca Railroad built without apparent justification, 
transfers some freight from the Rock Island Railroad to New York Central 
Lines ; La Salle and Bureau County Railroad is a short freight road which 
connects the smelters at La Salle with the Burlington and North Western 
roads ; Chicago, Indiana and Southern Railroad was built west into the 
mining and manufacturing section of Bureau County and taps a long line 
of railroads west and south of Chicago for the eastern traffic of the New 

"'Illinois Coal Report, 1912, p. 78. 
""Idem, p. 78. 
^Idem, p. 80. 



SETTLEMENT AND DEVELOPMENT 185 

York Central Lines ; Dcpue and Northern Railroad is an unimportant line 
for the transfer of smelter freight. 

PERIODS OF CONSTRUCTION 

The greatest period of railroad building in this State was the decade 
1850 to 1860. In 1851 there were in operation IIG miles of raili-oad in Illi- 
nois; in 1855 there were 887; in 1860 there were 2,790; in 1865 there 
were 3,157; and in 1868 there were 3,440 miles. In the upper Illinois 
Valley more railroads were built between 1852 than at any other time. 
After 1853 the great prairies were speedily cut into strips by road after 
road that crosses the unsettled parts of the State. Locally, a second period 
of active construction occurred between 1900 and 1910 when the mining and 
manufacturing interests of eastern Bureau and western La Salle counties 
attracted a number of roads. 

INFLUENCE OF RAILROADS ON DEVELOPMENT 

The nearly level surface of much of Illinois has favored the consti'uc- 
tion of railroads and has helped greatly to give the State first rank in rail- 
road mileage. The railroad, operating throughout the year and providing 
rapid and cheap transportation, has solved the transportation problem of 
the interior, and permitted the development of regions inaccessible by water 
routes. The services of the railroad to this region may be summarized 
under three heads : 

1. It made practicable the settlement of the large prairies of northern 
Illinois. The resources of the prairie were known long before railroads were 
built across them, but the lack of timber and transportation facilities had 
prevented their settlement. In La Salle County the central townships, situ- 
ated near the river and canal were well settled by 1845, whereas the north- 
ern and southern tiers of townships, remote from these waterways, were 
still largely vacant in 1850. Of the two southern townships, Groveland and 
Osage, it is related that La Salle County took them because Marshall and 
Livingston counties wxre unwilling to do so, and that in 1855 Groveland 
Township "was unbroken prairie, without an inhabitant. "^^ 2 i^ 1850 the 
prairies of Bureau County were still largely vacant, the settlements being 
near belts of timber. By 1854 (after two railroads had crossed it), all the 
land in the county was taken up."^ The growth of the population through- 
out this region during the decade 1850 to 1860 is shown by Table 6. 
Nearly all the prairie region north of Illinois River was settled in 
this decade, due largely to the railroads. The railroads provided (a) 
markets for farm produce, (b) lumber for buildings and fences, and (e) 

"-Baldwin, E., History of La Salle County, p. 468, 1877. 
"^Matson, Nehemiah, Voters and tax-payers of Bureau County. 



186 UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 

coal for fuel. As a result, the prairie region began to set the pace for the 
count ly in agricultural production. ^^^ 

2. The opening up of millions of acres of virgin soil of great fertility 
attracted many immigrants to the State. Many native Americans still 
came from the eastern states, lured by the advertisements of the real estate 
offices of the railroads. In this period also, a great stream of European 
emigration began to pour into our country, and many of these people set- 
tled on the prairies. Over-population pressed hard at that time upon the 
poorer classes of various European lands, political troubles were wide- 
spread, and labor difficulties and crop failures crowded out many trades- 
men, laborers, and farmers. These people were from northern Europe — 
German, English, Irish, French, Dutch, Scandinavian, and Flemish. Most 
of the Irish became laborers, but the majority of the other races turned to 
farming, continuing the life to which they had been brought up in their 
native land. When these immigrants came, the good lands of the East 
had been occupied, and they were forced to turn westward to secure cheap 
lands. Immigration continued until in many places the foreign outnum- 
bered the native settlers. In 1900 one-half to three-fourths of the total 
population of La Salle and Bureau counties were born of foreign parents, 
largely the descendants of these agricultural immigrants who came after 
the middle of the last century. In 1870 the following proportions held in 
a number of townships in Bureau County -M^ 

Native-born Foreigu-boru 

Hall Township 744 315 

Westfield Township 418 978 

Clarion Township 267 756 

Selby Township 388 1109 

La Moille Township 197 36 

Berlin Township 189 42 

Most of the foreigners who came at this time were Germans. Some- 
what later many Scandinavians came to Grundy and La Salle counties. 
These people have all been assimilated long since and have formed a valu- 
able addition to the blood and wealth of the region, 

3. The railroads have facilitated the development of the mineral re- 
sources of the region and stimulated the growth of its industries, as sketched 
in the next section. 



^"Baldwin, E., History of La Salle County, p. 210, 1877: "The cheap transportation of 
lumber has enabled the settlers to build and fence away from the timber, and independent of the 
groves so eagerly sought for in the early settlements. The prairie towns on the outskirts of the 
county have rapidly settled, and experience has proved that there is no valid objection to the 
settlement of the largest prairies when lumber can be obtained for building and fencing, and 
coal for fuel.' ' 

''^Summarized from Voters and tax-payers of Bureau County, p. 172, 1876. 



SETTLEMENT AND DEVELOPMENT 187 

Mining and Manufacturing 
liulustiies'"' have developed in this region chiefly because it is pro- 
vided with two sources of mechanical energy— water power and coal. The 
earliest industries depended on water power, the later industrial expansion 
has been due chiefly to the use of coal. After the rich soils of the region, 
coal probably has been the most important factor in its growth of popu- 
lation. 

coal mining 

The development of coal mining in the upper valley has been affected 
by a number of conditions : ( 1 ) The occurrence of the coal beds is related 
to the La Salle anticline. Upon the crest of the anticline coal is wanting, 
(a) East of the anticline is the coal-mining district of southern Grundy 
County, including the numerous mines in Braceville, Felix, and Greenfield 
towaiships. From IMorris westward the coal beds become fewer and poorer 
as they rise on the anticline. At Morris, coal is reached in shallow shafts, 
at IVIarseilles in drifts driven into the sides of the valley, and at Ottawa 
much weathered coal lies exposed at the surface in the valley. With the 
exception of eastern Grundy Gounty the coal east of the anticline is found 
only in thin beds and has little commercial value, (b) West of the anti- 
cline the ''Goal Measures" are carried underground rapidly by the steep 
dip of the western flank of the fold. They are much thicker than east of 
the anticline, and the number of coal beds is greater. West of the Vermil- 
ion rivers from four to five coal seams are encountered in all deep borings. 
The second bed above the base of the series (the so-called Third Vein coal) 
is worked most extensively and averages three feet thick. One hundred and 
forty feet on the average above it lies Goal No. 5 (Second Vein), and -tO feet 
higher is bed No. 7 (First Vein) ; both of these have a thickness about equal 
to that of the Third Vein, and have been mined to some extent. The coal 
beds lie much deeper west of the fold than they do east of it, and are 
reached by shafts three to four hundred feet deep. (2) The coal is un- 
usually good for the central region. The Third Vein coal is a high-grade 
block coal, and brings top prices for steaming purposes. (3) The location 
of this area at the northern end of the Illinois coal basin has favored its 
exploitation, (a) because it makes mining possible at lesser depths than 
farther south tow^ard the center of the basin, and (b) the coal is in an 
advantageous position to supply the regions farther north (-t) The excel- 
lent transportation facilities, and especially the low rates east and west 
along the river and canal, have favored its shipment to relatively distant 
points. The markets to which the coal is shipped are (a) the northern 
region, (b) the prairie region to the west, and (c) the great market in 
nearbv Ghicago. 



""Statistics, unless otherwise acknowledged, are from the 13th Census. 



188 UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 

Coal was first used by the Indian and the French adventurer. Mar- 
(juette and Joliet noted in 1673 the occurrence of coal along the valley. 
Joutel in his journal of 1687 described coal exposed on the slopes of Illinois 
Valley. Later, the pioneer farmer found a valuable resource in the mineral 
fuel Avhich he dug out of the valley sides. The earliest coal mining con- 
sisted merely in working outcropping banks; this was done along the 
western flank of the anticline near Split Rock and on the Big Vermilion, 
especially at Lowell. About Ottawa surface coal was dug for years in suf- 
ficient amount to supply local demands. In 1853 a boring was made at 
La Salle on the bottoms south of the canal, and in 1855 the first shaft was 
put into commission.il" With this date begins the commercial exploitation 
of the coal resources of the region. The upper Illinois Valley district is 
producing at present an aggregate of five million tons of coal annually. 
The quantity of coal mined from 1881 to 1907 is as follows : La Salle 
County, 38,493,630 tons ; Bureau County, 25,011,119 tons ; Grundy County, 
27,112,051 tons. In 1912 Bureau County produced 1,681,103 tons from 
13 mines; La Salle, 1,605,482 from 36 mines; Grundy, 756,388 from 13 
mines; and the two new mines of Putnam County, 716,531 tons.i^^ 

The growth of the cities and villages of southeastern Grundy and 
southwestern Will counties has been due almost entirely to the development 
of coal mining. The mines along the C. & A. R. R. had developed into 
coal-mining towns of some importance by 1880. In the decade 1880 to 1890 
Braceville increased more than eight-fold in population and attained second 
rank in the county. In that decade mines on the Santa Fe Railroad also 
were developed. In 1880 there was no Coal City; in 1890 it had 1,672 
inhabitants, and in the next twenty years another thousand were added. 
Since 1890 numerous other shafts have been sunk in Grundy County, and 
villages have sprung up with great rapidity. South Wilmington grew to 
a village of 2,500, Carbon Hill secured 1,200 inhabitants in less than ten 
years, and Eileen and East Brooklyn have sprung up in the last decade. 
With the exception of Coal City, the older coal-mining towns have lost part 
of their population as their mines have become less productive. Braceville 
has less than half of its population of 1890 ; Central City, Diamond, God- 
ley, Carbon Hill, and Gardener all have lost steadily in the last decade. 
The prosperity of such towns is brief; they are called into existence by 
coal mining, commonly develop no other permanent interests, and as the 
mines are worked out the miners gradually move away and the towns decay. 

In La Salle County coal mining has not created new towns so much as 
it has stimulated the growth of places already established. The earliest coal 
mining of importance in the upper valley was at La Salle and Peru, and 
the steady growth of these cities has been based on the use of their coal for 

"'Kett, Past and present of La Salle County, p. 301. 

"^Illinois Coal Report, 1912, pp. 68-69. In this year there were 12 mines producing in 
excess of 150,000 tons each. 



SETTLEMENT AND DEVELOPMENT 



189 



power in a variety of industries. Later came the development of Streator, 
the greatest eoal-niining city in the region. In 1870, Streator was barely 
in existence; by 1890 it was the largest city in the county, with 11,414 in- 
habitants. It holds this place still, but appears to have developed its mines 
about to full capacity. Kangley is a mining town near Streator, which has 
lost two-thirds of its population in the last decade. In 1907 the St. Paul 
Railroad Avas built from Granville to Portland, and a shaft sunk near Cedar 
Creek. About this shaft has grown the village of Cedar Point with a popu- 
lation of 500 in its second year. This settlement illustrates the latest de- 
velopment in the upper vallcy^ — coal mining in the prairies. Vast dump 
heaps are being reared here and there on the prairie, where a few years 
ago lay plowed fields. 

In Bureau County, Hall Township includes the majority of the coal 
mines. In 1883 this township had a population of 1,058; in 1884 the first 
shaft was sunk at Spring Valley; the next year shaft No. 3 was put in 
operation, and the tracks of the North Western Railroad were completed. 
Somewhat later a shaft was sunk at Seatonville, and in 1890 another at 
Ladd; in this year the population of the township was 5,683. In 1900 
Spring Valley had 6,214 inhabitants, and Ladd 1,324. In 1899 the shaft 
at Dalzell w^as opened, and at the same time coal mining Avas begun at 
INIarquette. In 1910 the toAvnship had a population of 12,493, or twelve 
times its population of 1880. This growth is due entirely to coal mining; 
outside of the mining towns the population has decreased gradually. 
Cherry village, in Arlington Township, was settled in 1905 and still had a 
population of more than a thousand after the great disaster. In Putnam 
County, Granville ToA\aiship shows a similar groAvth. Granville Avas a vil- 
lage of about three hundred inhabitants in 1904, Avhen the first shaft Avas 
sunk. In five years it added more than a thousand people, and close at 
hand the villages of Mark and Standard duplicated its growth. 

MANUFACTURING 

DEVELOPMENT 

The groAAi:h of industries in the region is due chiefly to (1) its raAv 
materials, (2) the increase of population Avhich created local markets for 
certain manufacturers and provided labor, (3) the construction of rail- 
roads, Avhich made more distant markets accessible, and (4) the develop- 
ment of coal mining, Avhich pro Added a cheap and efficient source of poAver. 
The groAvth of population in the upper Illinois Valley during the last four 
decades has been virtually confined to a groAvth of the population engaged 
in mining and manufacturing. The manufactures may be grouped in three 
classes: (1) Manufactures dependent on geographic advantages, such as 
raAv materials, or poAver, or both. To this class belong the most important 



190 UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 

industries of the region: zinc smelting and refining, the manufacture of 
agricultural implements, glass, paper, cement, and fire brick. These articles 
are produced chiefly for markets outside the region. (2) Industries de- 
veloped through highly specialized skilled labor. These depend on per- 
sistent individual initiative, not on local advantages. Among such indus- 
tries are the manufacture of clocks and musical instruments. (3) Certain 
industries developed to supply local demands. Such are the brewing of 
malted liquors, cigar making, and printing and publishing. These also are 
not based on any particular geographic advantage, but are an expression 
of the density of population. 

In the history of industry in the upper Illinois Valley Avater power 
played the leading role at first ; the later development is due to the use 
of coal. The first industries of the region were carried on along Fox River. 
The newspapers of the early fifties viewed the Fox Valley ' ' with a prophetic 
eye," as the busy center of manufactures in this section. Dayton, on the 
low^er Fox River, secured several mills before sites had been laid out for 
most of the present cities of the region. In 1834 it had a flour mill, a saw 
mill, tannery, and numerous other establishments.!^^ In 1842 the Pioneer 
Woolen ]\Iills were built at Dayton, and are said to have introduced the 
power loom to this State.^-^ This plant was enlarged considerably in 1864. 
In 1876 a paper mill was added, with a daily output of two tons.i^i Since 
then the dam has been destroyed, and all that remains of Dayton and its 
industries is the walls of the ruined mills, and a few houses. 

Coal was used for local manufactures after the first shaft was sunk at 
La Salle in 1855. In 1858 a zinc smelter and refinery was built at La Salle, 
and this industry marks the beginning of permanent industries in the 
region. In 1880 the value of manufactures in the three counties of the 
upper valley was $6,677,856, distributed as follows: La Salle County, 
$5,647,142; Bureau County, $560,708; Grundy County, $470,006. Dur- 
ing the next decade their value increased 34 per cent, the total for La Salle 
County being $7,821,617; for Bureau County, $703,847; and for Grundy 
County, $447,568. In this decade the number of employes in the manu- 
facturing industries of the three counties increased from 3,910 to 6,285.^22 
In 1909 the industries of La Salle and Streator alone were almost equal 
to the industries of La Salle County in 1890. 

DISTRIBUTION OF INDUSTRIES 

The western half of the upper valley has become of increasing import- 
ance in manufacturing, because of its superior supply of coal. La Salle, 
Peru, Streator, Portland, and Depue all are dependent largely on manu- 



"'••Baldwin, E., History of La Salle County, p. 266, 1877. 

^"Keyes, Directory of La Salle County, Introduction. 

•-"^Kett, Past and present of La Salle County, p. 334. 

^^'Tenth Census, vol. 2, and Eleventh Census, Report on manufacturing industries, Part 1. 



SETTLEMENT AND DEVELOPMENT 191 

factui'ing industries. In the eastern half oi" tlie i-('ji,i()n, on the otlier liand, 
aj^rieiiltural interests always have predominated, and oidy Ottawa and 
Marseilles have extensive manufactures. A short suiniiiary of the leading 
industries of the various cities is given below: 

1. The two principal industries of Morris arc the tanning of leather 
and the manufacture of hardware. They give employment to about 400 
people. The tannery was established in 1850, and has been built up by 
the development of a local supply of skilled labor. 

2. Marseilles is the only city in the region which now employs water 
power. It was built about the rapids of the Illinois, and coal is used only 
in flood times and for auxiliary purposes, as in the drying of paper. The 
industries of Marseilles date back to 1868, when a masonry dam was built 
across the Illinois. A paper mill was established in the .same year, and 
three others have been added since, giving employment to about 500 men. 
In 1868 the manufacture of agricultural machinery also was begun, and by 
1910 had grown to be a business employing more than 250 men. The manu- 
facture of agricultural machinery was developed because of (a) local con- 
trol of a number of inventions, (b) the central location of the city in a 
great farming district, and (c) cheap water power. Marseilles always has 
derived almost its entire support from its industries. The city has only 
a small foreign-born population and depends on native artisans almost 
entirely. 

3. Ottawa in 1909 was the twenty-sixth city in the State in the value 
of its manufactures. Until 1875 it used water power chiefly for its indus- 
tries. In 1858 "expensive and cumbrous agricultural implements, such 
especially as reapers and Avagons" were manufactured. ^^s At that time 
also a large starch factory for making table and laundry starch was in 
operation, utilizing some of the corn produced so abundantly in this region. 
By 1872 flour, cutlery, and plate glass had become important products. In 
1877 glass and agricultural implements (corn cultivators and corn shcllers) 
were of about equal value. ^-^ In 1880 glass was the most valuable product 
of the Q\iy, other leading products being agricultural implements, wagons, 
starch, and flour. ^-^ When the natural gas fields in Indiana Avere opened, 
the glass industiy was moved away from Ottawa to this new region of cheap 
and superior fuel. A few years ago the plate glass industry was established 
at Ottawa, and is developing rapidly. The leading manufactures of Ot- 
tawa in 1909 were glass, pottery, fire-clay products, agricultural imple- 
ments, carriages, and pianos with a total value of $2,467,985. The manu- 
facture of glass and brick and tile depends on the local supply of glass 
sand of the St. Peter foi-mation, and the fire claA's of the lower ''Coal 



^La Salle County, Directory, p. 28, 1858. 

^Baldwin, E., History of La Salle County, p. 543, 1877. 

^^Tenth Census, vol. 2. 



192 UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 

Measures. ' ' The St. Peter sand is quarried at numerous points, especially 
betAveen Ottawa and Utica in Illinois Valley, and about Wedron on Fox 
River. Much sand is mined cheaply about Ottawa by hydraulic methods. 
Most of the sand now mined at Streator and Alton is sliipped to factories 
in Indiana. The glass-sand industry has become important locally because 
(a) the St. Peter sandstone is soft, of even texture, and may be worked 
with great ease, in many places wick pick and shovel; (b) the sand is of 
the highest quality for the manufacture of glass, being almost pure silica 
and free from "loam;" (c) with one exception this is the only commer- 
cial outcrop of this sandstone in Illinois; and (d) the sandstone occurs in 
bluffs along the railroad lines that follow the Illinois and Fox valleys and 
is loaded directly from the pits into the cars. The decline of the glass 
industry at Ottawa has been due solely to the difficulty of securing good 
fuel. There are several fire brick, tile, terra cotta, and pottery establish- 
ments at Ottawa, which work clays on the valley terrace. The clay is 
refractory (can withstand a high degree of heat without melting), is plastic, 
and can be worked very cheaply. The coal which is associated with the 
clay furnishes most of the fuel for its firing. 

4. Utica began the manufacture of hydraulic cement while the canal 
was being built. The cement is made from certain clayey beds of the Lower 
Magnesian limestone. In 1872 the cement mill employed 300 men, and had 
a capacity of 150,000 barrels annually.^-^ In 1877, 75,000 barrels were 
made, valued at $110,000,^-^ and in 1880, the output was valued at 
$93,000,128 Since that time the output has decreased steadily and rapidly, 
as Portland cement has come into successful competition with the older 
article. Fire clay is worked about Utica for the manufacture of drain tile, 
sewer pipe, and fire brick. 

5. La Salle and Peru form one industrial center, divided only by 
arbitrary corporate limits. Since 1858 the smelting and refining of zinc has 
been the dominant industry of the twin cities. In 1877 there were four 
plants in operation, with an output of 900,000 tons of spelter (zinc) an- 
nually, valued at about $l,100,OOO.i2o In 1880, about 850 people were 
employed in the smelting and and refining of zinc, and the value of the 
output was $1,772,000.13*^ The entire industrial output of La Salle in 1909 
was worth $5,307,551, and consisted largely of zinc and Portland cement, 
although its clocks have a national reputation. Figures are not available 
for Peru ; its industries are also very extensive, but somewhat more diversi- 
fied, the leading products being zinc, plows, and malted liquors. 

""Keyes, Directory of La Salle County, p. 275. 

*^'Kett, Past and present of La Salle County, p. 333. 

^»Tenth Census, vol. 2. 

>==»Baldwin, E., History of La Salle County, pp. 542-3, 1877. 

""Tenth Census, vol. 2. 



SETTLEMENT AND DEVELOPMENT 193 

The zinc industry was establislicd in tlicsc cities liccausc of several in- 
fluences: (a) The upper Illinois Valley is the first place where zinc ore, 
traveling from the mines of southwestern Wisconsin to the eastern markets, 
meets coal. In smelting zinc, the amount of fuel required is greater than 
the amount of ore, so that it is cheaper to ship the ore to the fuel than 
fuel to ore. The coal fields of this region also are located conveniently for 
ore shipped east from the Rocky :Mountain district, (b) Good transpor- 
tation is afforded by several railroads. The La Salle and Bureau County 
Railroad was built recently to the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy and the 
Chicago and North Western railroads, giving the La Salle smelters the 
choice of four routes, (c) Western La Salle County, largely because of coal 
mining, has become a labor market of almost metropolitan character. 

6. Portland developed from the insignificant hamlet of Oglesby within 
the last ten years, and according to the census of 1910 had a population 
of 3,194. From Bailey's Falls to the mouth of Vermilion River the La Salle 
limestone is exposed at the surface. Directly beneath it lie soft Carbonifer- 
ous clays, and still lower is a seam of excellent coal. These three mineral 
resources have located here a large Portland cement industry. Portland 
cement is made from limestone and clay, which are ground, mixed in cer- 
tain proportions, and fired. In this industry as in smelting zinc, much 
more fuel is required than rock and clay. All these materials are bulky, 
so that the industry can be carried on profitably only where limestone, clay, 
and coal are associated intimately. Conditions scarcely could have been 
better for the establislunent of such an industry than they are on lower 
Vermilion River. Near the river the La Salle limestone underlies a thin 
cover of earth which can be stripped off with ease. The limestone has an 
average thickness of 24 feet and is underlain by 16 feet of clay. The coal 
is mined by a shaft adjoining the mills. The mai^-elous development of 
this industiy has built the city of Portland and stimulated the growth of 
Peru and La Salle, for the most of the men employed in the cement mills 
live in the latter cities. Since 1907 Portland has been able to ship by 
three railroads. 

7. Depiie during the last five years has been transformed from a de- 
caying river village into a thriving manufacturing toAra. A large zinc 
smelter was established here recently, which has the same advantages en- 
joyed at La Salle and Peru. In 1900 Depue had a population of 488; in 
1910, of 1,339. 

Rural Conditions 

Whereas the mining and manufacturing interests have developed rap- 
idly during the last thirty years, the agricultural output of the upper val- 
ley has increased much more slowly. At the beginning of this period most 
of the arable land was in cultivation, so that the farm area has grown but 



194 UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 

slightly. If methods of cultivation have improved gradually, they have 
barely offset the injury done the soil by the long continued cultivation of 
a feAV crops. The output of the farms of the region has varied but little 
in the last fortj^ years. The value of the crops, hoAvever, has risen steadily 
during this period, largely because of the increasing needs of our rapidly 
growing urban population. Better prices have brought prosperity and ease 
to the farmer, and also a tremendous increase of farm values. 

Table 3. — Value of farm property 

Bureau Grundy La Salle 

1860 $8,900,159 $2,673,181 $ 7,979,789 

1870 18,982,291 8,005,098 26,179,442 

1880 24,343,725 8,772,875 30,893,423 

1890 24,222,290 10,541,380 36,706,880 

1900 37,970,986 18,141,875 58,020,553 

1910 76,034,035 37,808,965 114,911.820 

Table 4. — Value of farm crops 

Bureau Grundy La Salle 

1870 $3,936,439 $1,043,965 $ 5,502,502 

1880 3,978,672 1,604,366 5,223,503 

1890 3,389,410 1,305,720 5,075,930 

1900 4,799,181 2,394,580 7,201,557 

1910 7,165,497 3,774,509 10,222,235 

Farming in this region is little diversified, and the tendency in recent 
years has been to still less diversification. Wheat, which w^as growai for- 
merly in considerable quantity, is now produced scarcely at all (fig. 69) ; 
less than 15,000 bushels were grown in the upper Illinois counties in 1900. 
The great staple throughout this section always has been corn, and in gen- 
eral other crops are grown only for rotation purposes. Oats, especially, 
are grown in rotation with the corn, and constitute the second crop of the 
region. Hay is the third crop, but its production gradually is falling off 
as land values increase. The only other important product of the farm is 
live stock. Since the development of Chicago as a meat-packing center, the 
raising of corn-fed cattle has become an important item on most farms. 
Many western range cattle are shipped in, fattened, and then sold in 
Chicago. 

Table 5. — Farm values of live stock 

Bureau Grundy La Salle 

1860 $1,294,258 $ 453,082 $ 1,224,526 

1870 3,150,413 1,113,149 3,906,367 

1890 3,686,500 1,273,640 4,627,320 

1900 3,790,902 1,355,945 4,279,015 

1910 5,961,441 2,394,943 6,635,026 



SETTLEMKNT AND DEVELOPMENT 



195 



Dairying is carried on chiefly to supply local needs. In 1900 the value 
of the dairy products was slightly over one million dollars. In 1909 the 
dairy products of the three counties were valued at $2,019,000. 

The stability of rural conditions is sti-ikingly shown by Table G. The 
rural population of this region has grown but slightly in the last fifty 
years. In 1860 the agricultural population was al^out as dense as now, and 
from 1870 to 1880 the rural sections were settled even more densely than 
at present. The improvement of labor-saving farm machinery has more than 
kept pace with the increase of farm area since 1860. New forms of labor- 



































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Fig. 69. — Graph showing grain produced in La Salle, Bureau, and Grundy counties. 



saving machinery were introduced frequently, and from decade to decade 
fewer people were required to take care of the land. In the last twenty 
years the rural population has decreased noticeably. Whatever growth of 
population has taken place in the upper valley since 1875 has been due to 
its industrial development; the towns alone have offset the losses of the 
agricultural districts. The population of La Salle County increased by 
9,611 in the decade 1870 to 1880. During this time Streator, La Salle, ]\Iar- 
seilles, Peru, and ^Mendota gained 9.020, whereas 19 of the 37 townships 
of the county lost in population. From 1880 to 1890 the county gained 
10,395; seven towns and villages contributed an increase of 13,048, which 



196 



UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 





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202 UPPER ILLINOIS VALLEY 

more than offset the loss in 24 ont of its 37 townships. From 1890 to 1900 
La Salle County added 6,878, of which the gains in five cities made up 5,520 ; 
during this decade 13 townships lost in population. From 1900 to 1910 
the increase of population in the county was 2,356 ; seven cities added 
6,857 in the face of heavy losses in 24 townships. 

The population of Bureau County increased by 757 in the decade 1870 
to 1880, 13 out of 25 townships losing. From 1880 to 1890 the county 
added 1,842. The coal mines of Spring Valley and Seatonville attracted 
4,373 people in this decade, but a loss was registered in all but three of 
the 25 townships. From 1890 to 1900 the increase in Bureau County was 
6,098. contributed almost entirely by the mining towns of Hall Township ; 
a decrease was recorded in ten townships. From 1900 to 1910 the popula- 
tion of the county grew by 2,863 ; the industrial towns of the region added 
5,210 ; 16 rural townships lost heavily. In Grundy County there was an 
increase of 4,292 from 1880 to 1890, due to the growth in Braceville and 
Felix townships, in the coal region. From 1890 to 1900 the county added 
3,112, mostly in the coal-mining districts of Felix and Creenfield townships 
and in Morris. From 1900 to 1910, 14 of the 17 townships of the county 
lost heavily, but the growth of South Wilmington, Eileen, and East Brook- 
lyn in the mining districts overcame the losses in the rest of the county. 

Putnam County shows similar conditions ; its population in 1860 was 
greater by 841 than in 1900, a loss of 15 per cent in 40 years. Between 
1900 and 1910, coal mines were opened about Granville, and the county 
gained 2,815, or more than 59 per cent. 

In Grundy County there has been no increase in agricultural popula- 
tion in the last thirty years, none in La Salle and Bureau counties in forty 
years, and none in Putnam County in fifty years. In most townships there 
has been a material decrease for several decades. In Grundy County, Sara- 
toga Township has lost one-third of its population since 1870, and six 
townships have fewer inhabitants today than they had fifty years ago. In 
La Salle County, Brookficld and Freedom townships have lost 25 per cent 
since 1870, Dimmick Township 38 per cent, Meriden 41 per cent. Grand 
Rapids 42 per cent, and 25 out of 37 townships are settled less densely than 
• in 1860. In no case are these townships regions of exhausted soils or 
abandoned farms. Choicer prairie land or finer farm homes scarcely could 
be found. The reason is not that the land will no longer support as many 
people as it once did, but that agricultural progress has enabled fewer 
people to do the work of a greater number with more economy. As a 
result, a good share of the population has moved to newer lands in the 
West or to the cities. As wealth has accumulated, individual holdings have 
grown, and the numlx'i- of farms has been reduced. The following table 
shows the increase in the average size of farms in recent years : 



1900 


1910 


1G2.3 


160.1 


150.9 


162.1 


151.5 


154.8 



SETTLEMENT AND DEVELOPMENT 203 

Average acreage uf farms 

County 1880 1890 

Bureau 147 158 

Grundy 140 149 

La Salle 137 149 

Large-scale fanning is becoming the rule, and with concentration of owner- 
shij) tenant farming is on the increase. 

In all its history there is no more significant event than this passing 
of the control of the region from the rural districts to the industrial cen- 
ters, as shown by the preceding analysis of its population statistics. The 
new order of things inevitably wall continue at least for a time. It is 
possiljle to effect further economy in farming by cultivating the prairie 
land on a still larger scale, and for a time the farm population there- 
fore will decrease still more. On the other hand, many more people may 
be supported in this region by other industries. Only a tithe of the coal 
which underlies its western and southern portion has been removed. The 
splendid water powers of the upper Illinois and Fox rivers remain almost 
untouched. A waterway from the Lakes to the Gulf, once built, will give 
the region an efficient water route. The location of the region on a great 
natural route, its nearness to important markets, its productive farm lands, 
its great supply of coal, and its variety of other raw materials, as well as 
the permanent power supply in its streams — all these physical gifts guar- 
antee to it a continued development. Upon these material things is based 
the assurance of a splendid future for upper Illinois Valley, in the realiza- 
tion of which factory, mine, and farm each will bear an important part. 



INDEX 



PAGE 

A 

Agriculture, boom of 164, 174 

by Indians 144 

development of 193-203 

machinery for 158, 19U, 191, 192 

relation of topography to 26-27 

Alluvial fans 129 



Barrows, H. H., acknowledgments to. 11 

Black Hollow mine, structure in 47 

Bloomington moraine and till... 75-76, 94 

Brick, manufacture of 

44, 58, 86, 190, 191 

Buffalo Eock, description of 21 

gravels at 95-96, 116 

Bureau County, coal mining in 188 

manufacturing in 190 

population of 198-199 

settlement of... 150, 152, 153, 157, 186 

C 

Cambrian history 49 

Carboniferous strata, concretions in.. 33 

Cement, manufacture of 190, 192 

' ' Cement beds " 120 

Channahon, growth of 178 

Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Rail- 
road, construction of 183-184 

Chicago, Indiana & Southern Eail- 

road, construction of 184 

Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Rail- 
road, construction of 184 

Chicago & North Western Railroad, 

construction of 184 

Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Rail- 
road, construction of 183 

Cincinnatian series, see Eichmond 
limestone 

Clays 44, 57, 58, 86, 90 

Climate, discussion of 14-15 

Coal manner of formation of 31 

mining of 187-189 



PAGE 

' ' Coal Measures, ' ' see Pennsylvanian 

series 
Coiu-retioiis, manner of formation 

of 33, 120 

Conglomerate, manner of formation 

of 30 

D 

Deltas 129 

Depue, manufacturing at 193 

terrace at 25 

Devonian history 50 

Drift 62-64 

Dunes, formation of 116-117 

Dust deposits 117 

E 

Easterners, immigration of. .148-149, 152 
Economic condition'^, effect of topog- 
raphy on 27-28 

Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Railroad, con- 
struction of 184 

English, westward movement of 

148-149, 152 

Erosive processes 116-143 

Exfoliation, description of 122 

r 

Falls, development of 136-137 

Financial boom 163-167 

Flood plains, definition of 125 

Foreigners, immigration of 186 

Forests, removal of 140-141 

Fox Indians, immigration of 145 

French, coal mining by 188 

explorations of 146-148 

G 

Galena limestone, see Platteville- 
Galena 

Glaciation, effect of 82-88, 134-136 

history of 57-115 

Glass, manufacture of 190-191 



( 205 ) 



206 



INDEX 



PAGE 

Gravel, distribution of 86-87, 99-107 

Grundy County, coal mining in 188 

manufacturing in 190 

population of 199-200, 202 

settlement of 150, 153 

Guileys, growth of 123-125 

H 

Health conditions 160-lCl 

Hennepin flat 103, 107-109, 116 

' ' High-level ' ' gravels 

63, 72, 77, 99-106, 120, 142 

Homestead, improvement of 156-158 



Ice age 57-115 

Illinois and Michigan Canal 

24, 161, 165, 167-181 

Illinois Central Eailroad, construc- 
tion of 181-183 

Indians, coal mining by 188 

history of 144-146 

Illinois Indians in i Uinois 145 

Iroquois Indians, raids by 145 

K 

Kame, definition of 64, 111 

Kankakee & Seneca Eailroad, con- 
struction of 184 

Kickapoo beds 64, 97-98 

Kickapoo Indians, immigration of... 146 



Lands, speculation in 163-167 

La Salle, growth of 176 

manufacturing at 192 

terrace at 22, 26 

St. Peter sandstone at 38 

tributary valleys at 23 

La Salle anticline, coal on 187 

description of 46-48 

La Salle County, coal mining in 188 

manufacturing in 190 

population of 195-198 

settlement of 150, 151 

La Salle limestone, description of. .44-45 

effect of, on topography 134 

falls over 137 



PAGE 

structure of 47, 48 

valleys in 139 

Limestone, manner of formation of . . 31 

Liquors, brewing of 190, 192 

Loess 64-66, 81-82 

Lovers' Leap, description of 21 

' ' Lower Magnesian ' ' limestone, see 
Prairie du Chien group 

M 

Mantle rock 57 

Manufacturing, development of.. 189-103 
Marseilles, character of valley at. . . . 25 

growth of 177 

manufacturing at 191 

roads at 25 

Marseilles moraine 22, 

76-77, 79, 80, 100, 101, 110-112, 119 

Mills, establishment of 158-159 

Mining, development of 187-189 

Minooka Eidge, description of 

22, 78, 79, 80, 110-112, 117 

Mississippian history 50 

Moraine, definition of 66 

Morris, growth of 177 

manufacturing at 191 

terrace at 22, 25 

Morris basin 

17, 21, 25, 27, 54, 59, 74-S<l. 
89, 96, 109, 110-112, 116, 117, 133 

N 

Newspapers 160, 163, 171, 190 

Niagaran limestone, presence of 42 

Northerners, control by 151-153 



Ordovician history 49 

Ottawa, Fox Valley at 23 

growth of 177 

manufacturing at 191 

road at 25 

terrace at 22, 26 

tributary valleys at 23 

Outwash plain, definition of 69 

Outlet Eiver 89, 96, 113-115 



Paleozoic history 49 



INDEX 



207 



PAGE 

Paper, niamifacture of 190 

Pennsylvanian series, concretions in. . 

33, 4-1 

clays of 58, 75 

description of 42-46, 75 

eflFeet of, on topofrraphy 132 

history of deposition of 50 

valleys in 138 

Fern, growth of 176 

manufacturing at 192 

terrace at 22, 25, 26 

Peru beds 64, 72, 94-95, 121 

Physiographic processes 116-143 

Platteville-Galena limestone, descrip- 
tion of 39-41 

effect of, on topography 132 

history of deposition of 50 

structure of 47 

valleys in 139 

Population 24, 195-202 

Portland, manufacturing at 193 

Portland cement 45, 88, 104, 184 

Potsdam sandstone, depth of 35 

Pottawatomies, immigration of 145 

Prairies, settlement of 153-156 

Prairie du Chien limestone, concre- 
tions in 33 

description of 35-37 

effect of, on topography 132 

history of deposition of 50 

structure of 47 

valleys in 138, 139 

Princeton, ridges at 22 

Printing, development of 190 

Putnam County, coal mining in 188 

population of 201, 202 

settlement of 150, 152, 153, 156 

R 

Railroads 16, 181-186 

Rainfall 14-15 

Richmond limest(uio, description of. 41-42 

effect of, on topography 132 

history of deposition of 50 

Roads 24-25, 88, 162 

Rutland Hills, de^cviption of 22 



Sacs, attacks by 151 

immigration of 145 



PAGE 
St. Peter sandstone, concretions in. 33, 38 

descrij)tion of 37-39 

economic value of 71, 1Tj2 

effect of, on topograi)hy 132 

grooves in 91-93 

relation of, to gliicial deposits. ... 103 

structure of 47, 48 

valleys in 138, 139 

water from 118 

Salisbury, R. D., acknowledgments to. 11 

Sands, distribution of 86-87 

Sandstone, manner of formation of. . 30 

Seneca, growth of 177 

terrace near 21 

Sejttaria, description of 44 

Shale, manner of formation of 30 

Shore deposits, manner of formation 

of 30 

Slate, manner of formation of 30 

Soils 57, 83-86, 87, 140-143 

Social conditions, description of. 159-160 

effect of topography on 27-28 

Southerners, northward movement of 

149-151 

Speculation in lands 163-167 

Split Rock, St. Peter sandstone at. . . 35 

Prairie du Chien limestone at 35 

Springs 117-119 

Starved Rock, description of 21, 23 

Streams, work of 123-130 

Structure 46-49 



Temperature 14-15 

Till, description of 60-62 

Topography 12-28, 51-56 

Transportation 24, 161-163 

' ' Trenton-Galena ' ' limestone, see 
Platteville-Galeva 

Tributaries, adjustment of 127-129 

description of 23 

U 

Upland clay 66, 82, 84 

Utica, concretions in clays at 33 

growth of 177 

manufacturing at 192 

Prairie du Chien limestone at 35 

ridges near 22 

river bottoms at 21, 25, 27 



208 



INDEX 



A'alley flats, development of 125-126 

Valley train, definition of 69 

description of 109-110 

Valleys, development of 123-129 

variations in 137-140 

Valparaiso moraine 78, 110-112, 114 

Veins, manner of formation of 32 

Vermilionville, road at 25 

W 
Water, work of 117-121 



Water power 87 

Water supplies 86 

Weathering 121-123 

Wedron, St. Peter sandstone at 38 

Wells 117-119 

Will County, settlement of 151 

Winnebago Indians, immigration of. .146 
Wisconsin glaciation 63, 73-82, 99 

Z 

Zinc smelting 190, 192, 193 



/55 



7.73S355G>C1/ 



Date Due 


MAY ,: '60 








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Sauer, Carl 

Geography of the upper Illinois valley 
and history of development. 



ELMHURST COLLEGE LIBRARY 

Elmhurst, Illinois 
60126 



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