Map of Lands in the State of Illinois Embracing the Canal Route (1835)

This large map (79x110 cm.; 31x43 in.) was published just before construction of the Illinois and Michigan canal began in 1836. The “Old Indian” boundaries delineated on the map refer to lines established by the Treaty of St. Louis in 1816 by which Odawa, Ojibwa, and Potawatomi Indians ceded to the United States a corridor 20 miles in width that extended southwest from Lake Michigan to the upper reaches of the Illinois River. The treaty ensured U.S. control over the ancient portage and trade route and cleared the way for the construction of the Illinois and Michigan Canal. During the 1820s and 1830s, the U.S. Public Land Survey laid out the grid of six-mile-square townships and one-mile-square sections that appear on this map. The surveyors were instructed to note the locations of existing settlements, roads, and natural features. The anonymous cartographer drew upon this information to give us a clear picture of the distribution of the forests, prairies, and swamps in the canal corridor before the major influx of non-native settlers. In the upper right corner of the map a cluster of buildings marks the location of Chicago. A few miles to the southwest a swampy finger of the Des Plaines River reaches eastward towards the South Branch of the Chicago River. Further south, another of the several portages in the region links the Calumet River to the Des Plaines. It was preferred by some early travelers, but this route was excluded from the treaty. This more southerly area assumed importance as a waterway after the Calumet region emerged as a more suitable location for the primary port of Chicago during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.



Conzen, Michael P. and Kathleen A. Brosnan. “The Geographical Vision and Reality of the Illinois & Michigan Canal.” Bulletin of the Illinois Geographical Society 42 no. 2 ( 2000): 5-19.

Monckton, John T. “Traffic on the Illinois & Michigan Canal, 1848-1860: An Overview.” Bulletin of the Illinois Geographical Society 42, no. 2 (2000): 20-26.

Conzen, Michael P. and Kay J. Carr, eds. The Illinois and Michigan Canal National Heritage Corridor: A Guide to Its History and Sources. DeKalb, IL: Northern Illinois University Press, 1988.

Lamb, John and Dennis H. Cremin, eds. A Corridor in Time. Romeoville, IL: Lewis University, 2008.

Howe, Walter A., ed. Documentary History of the Illinois and Michigan Canal Legislation, Litigation and Titles. [Springfield]: Department of Public Works and Buildings, 1956.

Putnam, James. The Illinois and Michigan Canal: A Study in Economic History. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press,1918.

Map of Lands in the State of Illinois Embracing the Canal Route from Lake Michigan to the Head of Steam Boat Navigation on the Illinois River (New York: C.B. & J.R. Graham's Lithography, 1835). The Newberry Library, map6F G4102.I4 1835 .G7