For several decades, a group of dedicated volunteers has diligently worked to remind us that Chicago would not exist were it not for the fact that it straddles a continental divide, and was founded because it enabled a continuous waterway from the East Coast to the Gulf of Mexico.
Most people think of Chicago as the birthplace of skyscrapers – yet – its maritime history has been almost forgotten – until just now – so visit the Chicago Maritime Museum at 1200 West 35th Street – 773-376-1982 – www.chicagomaritimemuseum.org
For us paddlers, the museum hosts a revolving exhibition of the canoes and kayaks from the Ralph Frese Collection that he donated to the museum as a founding father. The exhibits transit the evolution of the marine history from the use of dugouts, canoes, then schooners, steam ships, barges, and more.
You can also watch a video of Ralph Frese, whose passion for canoes, history, and nature will inspire you and many others today: IN CANOEING, WE HAVE THE ONLY TRAIL IN NATURE THAT LEAVES NO TRACE OF OUR PASSING.
The museum also holds many treasured exhibits that demonstrate much of what has made the Chicago area what it is today.
Chicago’s Public TV station, WTTW, had a wonderful presentation and article about the museum, which can be accessed at: