Art and history meld together with nature along the 100 miles of park, 61 miles of I & M Canal Trail that is part of the Illinois & Michigan Canal National Heritage Corridor. The I & M Canal National Heritage Corridor is part state park and national heritage site. I like to begin the trail at the Lincoln Landing Park in downtown historic Lockport, Illinois. I like the mix of art, history and nature that it offers. From there I can travel the I & M Canal Trail all the way to Starved Rock State Park by Peru and LaSalle, Illinois.
I park by the Gaylord Building and enter it to go to the I & M Canal Museum inside. Then I walk down stairs to the canal and turn left to go along a shorter trail from the Lincoln Landing to Lock #1 and read about the history of the place along the way. The well-maintained trail is popular with runners, dog walkers, hikers and cyclists.
After going under the bridge, I go up the stairs to visit the Illinois State Museum Art Gallery in the Harvest Building. It features state and local artists in mixed media, sometimes with a historical focus.
Both the Gaylord and Harvest buildings are over a couple hundred years old, built from limestone that came from local quarries. Since I’m here, I stroll around the scenic old town.
I stopped for free samples and watched chocolates being made by hand at the candy shop.
When I went in to the Vegan Café to grab a smoothie, I learned it was a café with a cause. Laurie Sloan, the café owner, had been diagnosed with leukemia. While she was seeking treatment, she met a little girl named Jordan who was fighting her own battle with cancer. Jordan encouraged her not to give up hope and keep fighting. Sloan survived and started a nonprofit foundation, Thanks Jordan Foundation and Celebrating Life, to inspire others fighting life-threatening illnesses and provide information on the benefits of raw foods and eating healthy. The proceeds from the café benefit the Thanks Jordan Foundation. Today Jordan is a thirteen year-old.
Happy trails to you. Here are a couple of maps: