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My Adventures in Canoeing


-By Don Mueggenborg

It’s been over 70 years since I first paddled a canoe at Boy Scout Camp Delevan. I have had my share of adventures and fun.

Maybe my first adventure was at Camp Delevan. I had just earned my canoeing merit badge and that evening Dale and I went out for a cruise. A couple boys just got their swimming classification and were in a canoe for the first time. They dumped – we rescued them. They would not get back into their canoe so I transferred over and paddle back in their boat. Instead of praise, we got heck for not making them get back in their canoe.

Since this is my story, I won’t tell of the times we screwed up. I won’t tell about the time in the Sangamon All-Craft Race when we – 3 of us in a tripping canoe – started with kayak paddles and decided to switch to canoe paddles. Someone, I won’t say who, leaned a little too much when stowing the kayak paddles. Swift current and the banks were clay – we could not get out for a long time.

Sangamon All-Craft Race – they subtracted 1 hour from the john boat time and added 45 minutes to the racing canoes. Missed a shortcut but managed to beat Skeet and Doug by a boat length. I can see the paddle we won engraved “Best Time” Year 1982.

I could tell you about the times we made a great buoy turn in the Current Buster canoe race to beat Brad and Fred, but I won’t tell you about the time called for a cross-bow at that same turn and my partner’s paddle got caught on the rope holding the buoy. We swam while several boats passed us with the “are you ok?” smile on their faces.

I won’t tell about my first race – Des Plaines in 1969. Got sucked under Ryerson dam – lost a paddle – ruined our lunches (20 miles with no lunch?), ruined the radio – wasn’t very good music anyway.

I won’t mention the time we lost Joe while we were paddling across Illinois (he was ok, only had to make a pit-stop). But I do remember camping along the Hennepin Canal and going to sleep to the sound of the water flowing over the old lock. Great camping on the canal.

Or the time on that trip when a cabin cruiser on the Illinois put up a ten-foot wave (seemed that big) and we had more water in the boat than I usually did in my bath tub. We did make it to shore as did Joe and Ben – barely.

Or the crazy race with Voyageur boats at Ouitetenon. We had to turn and cross the finish line backwards. We were leading when I called for the turn. Tom in the bow started to turn left while I was turning right. We realized it at the same time and switched. Two canoes passed us before we got our act together. Embarrassing – but they ruled the other canoes turned too late and did not back across the line and we won. I said a crazy race.

The Skokie Lagoons race – Ice Cream before and after the race – Stan the sponsor standing on a bridge telling you where to turn or his helper doing my portage for me (never could figure out how we did not have a portage going around the island, but had one on the other side) and following the bubbles in the water left by the heat ahead of you. Fun and low key.

Hope my reminiscing took your mind off the virus and got you planning to paddle again.

New Boat Launch on the DuPage River in Lisle – Finally


Boat-Launch-Design-1 Lisle-Boat-Lauch-Site-0.png

The forever on again off again project?

The first public launch on the East Branch of the DuPage River has long been in the works. The Lisle Park District started this endeavor back in 2007 with informal communications with various paddling groups as a means of testing of the waters (pun intended) to construct a launch in Community Park, located just west of the intersection of Route 53 and Short Street in Lisle.

The feedback was unanimously positive, so we engaged architects and engineers to design a launch and submitted funding applications to the IDNR’s Boat Access Area Development Grant Program.

After several unsuccessful years, we were finally notified in 2015 that our project was to receive funding. However, that funding was put on hold and eventually swept away during the governor transition at that time. We were notified in the summer of 2018 that the 2015 grant would be honored. After several months of completing the required paperwork for this award, the Lisle Park District bid the project last August.

Unfortunately, bids came in much higher than expected and budgeted. After researching the benefits of such a boat launch, especially given the growth of paddlesport participants, with the help of the Illinois Paddling Council, the Board of Park Commissioners followed staff’s recommendation to reject all bids and rebid the project in January 2020 when we expected a more competitive bidding environment.

The project was bid this January as recommended and the low bid was close to $32,000 lower than the low bid from August 2019. The Park Board unanimously approved awarding the contract under staff’s statement that “now that we have the grant agreement from the IDNR, the financial commitment from the Lisle Partners for Parks Foundation, adequate funding in the Park District’s 2020 Budget and now a low bid that is within current budget allocations, it appears the stars have finally aligned.”

We may have spoken too soon by not anticipating the current pandemic, but for now, we remain committed to seeing this project through. Construction is tentatively scheduled for August and as of the writing of this article, the Lisle Park District is being optimistic about following through on this 13-year initiative and looks forward to seeing a lot of you at the ribbon cutting and thereafter! Stay tuned and think positively!

-By Dan Garvy

Director of Parks & Recreation

Lisle Park District

Pedal, Paddle, & Hike


100_1879 JAT Bridge A 100_1379

Pedal, Paddle, and Hike!

Those words embody the vision we had when work started on developing the Pecatonica River as a water trail in Stephenson County. We worked long and hard and were able to reach that goal. Most importantly, we advocate for our projects and we raise money to build our projects.

We were designated a WaterTrail by Stephenson County. That wasn’t enough. Our initial plan identified launch sites for the Pecatonica River throughout Stephenson County. Our plan was developed using Illinois Paddling Council procedures. Work on additional sites was begun. Brochures were printed, events were scheduled, and use of the Pecatonica River promoted. We were designated a water trail in the State of Illinois.

Except for Mother Nature “raining on our parade” or flooding, things are progressing. Now we see what could be a step backward in the “Pedal, Paddle, and Hike” plan. The Jane Addams trail is part of a “Rails to Trails” conversion of former railroad routes, to bike trails. Part of the bridge near Cedarville Road has deteriorated to the point where the maintenance equipment used on the trail cannot use the bridge. Bicycle traffic is acceptable, for now.

The bridge in question is about 133 years old, was a construction of Chicago, Madison & Northern, 1886 – 1888, and part of the Illinois Central. The route was abandoned in 1985. Railroads take bridges very seriously and that is why it has lasted so long. However, it is time for some attention for this structure.

Jane Addams Trail, 133-year-old bridge support

The current economic situation, caused by the Covid—19 pandemic, is likely to impact municipal income at every level and for a very long time. Those interested in maintaining the current level of recreational opportunities will need to make their voices heard and participate in the search for funding to maintain existing bike and hiking trails. You should also realize that not all of the local representatives are in support of all recreational activities. It is important to make your opinions known and to be prepared to work together finding ways to fund our resources.

For us, the Wes Block site for the Jane Addams Trail was on our list as a potential launch site because it is half-way between McNeil’s Damascus Landing and Tutty’s Crossing. The site was also the trailhead for the Jane Addams Trail. Now there is a bike trail connection from Wes Block to Tutty’s Crossing, which also has a boat launch and a canoe/kayak launch. If you bike, hike or paddle, get involved in finding the funding solutions.

Joe Ginger, president
Friends of the Pecatonica River Foundation

Jane Addams Trail

The Illinois Central was chartered by the Illinois General Assembly on February 10, 1851. At its completion in 1856, the IC was the longest railroad in the world. Its main line went from Cairo, Illinois to Galena, Illinois. In 1886, the Chicago, Madison & Northern ran a line north from Freeport to Madison, Wisconsin, completed by 1888. They joined the Illinois Central in 1903. The line ran through Scioto Mills and Red Oak. At Red Oak, the Illinois Central built a junction station where the line branched. The northern branch, running through Buena Vista and Orangeville, became known as the Madison branch. This branch is what now constitutes the Jane Addams.

On February 1st, 1888, the first train ran the entire distance between Freeport, Illinois and Madison, Wisconsin.

Joseph Ginger

Canoe Trivia


Some questions that have popped into my mind while stuck in the house. I ask the questions – give my answer. Think of your answer and share with us.

1. Oddest or strangest paddling or racing experience.

2. Longest paddling experience (time, distance).

3. Most fun or greatest thrill while paddling.

4. River you what to paddle again.

My answers:

1a. Dead Fish Race. Race in Decatur on the Sangamon. In order to have enough water for the race, they closed the dam for a hot night before the race. Race day they opened up the dam and hundreds of dead carp came floating out. We were catching dead carp on the bow of our boat for five miles.

1b. Sangamon All Craft Race. The rules make this interesting. Subtract an hour from the john boats, add 45 minutes to the racing canoes. Recreation canoes – no change.
One year, three of us paddled in a tripping canoe (recreational canoe). Our competition was a 6 man homemade rowing boat. They started ahead of us and we caught them at the finish line. They were ruled recreational. 45 minutes were added to our time because we paddled like racers.

1c. A slalom race in Rockford. The course was marked by black and white balloons. With the hot sun, the balloons popped one by one giving each boat a different course.

2a. 100 mile race on the Wabash. Water almost in flood stage for part of the race. Did it in 13 hours, Ed did it in 12:57. We celebrated with ice cream.

2b. Paddle across Illinois. 250 miles, 4 and one-half days.

3. Maybe the times we paddled in Quetico, Canada. A week of paddling in the wilderness with my family and friends was the most fun I think. See in kids – grade school and HS freshmen enjoy nature.

4a. The General Clinton Race course on the Susquehanna from Cooperstown to Bainbridge. 70 miles in a beautiful valley (and we even took 3rd place one year). Thanks Don for pulling me down the river.

4b. Juniper Creek that runs out of Juniper Springs in Florida. Winding through jungle like scenery.

Your turn = share with us.

-By Don Mueggenborg


Here is a list of clubs, businesses, even a college that offer paddling instruction

www.prairiestatecanoeists.org/Instruction – club

www.nwpassage.com/chicago-kayak – outfitter

www.rei.com/events/a/paddling – retailer

www.kayakchicago.com/classes/ – outfitter

www.cwa.wildapricot.org/ – club

www.kayakmorris.com – outfitter

www.rocktownadventures.com – retailer

www.chicagoriverpaddle.com – outfitter

www.llbean.com – check for kayaking courses

www.statelinepaddlers.net – club

www.rutabaga.com  – check for paddling instruction

www.havekayakswilltravel.com – outfitter

www.cod.edu/academics/acadmicc_opportunities/field/calendar.aspx  – College of DuPage

Please note: the above is for information purposes only and does not constitute an endorsement of any business or organization – subject to change.


Held at the Historic Warren Tavern (no alcohol) in Warrenville, it was a pleasant evening of a lot of canoe talk, good pizza, and an excellent program.

The business meeting:

President Tom Eckles presented a brief overview of 2019 and the IPC.

His main interest, river clean-up, had several cleanups, but high water forced cancellation of others (not only safety concerns but high water tends to clear out the trash (only to find it when the waters recede).   (ALWAYS LOOKING FOR MORE VOLUNTEERS

The Hartman Fund was mentioned – money designated for getting canoe/kayak instructors certified.  We have money, need candidates.  It was suggested that perhaps funds could be used for school programs.

He emphasized that we could use more volunteers to help staff tables at various events during the year.

ELECTION OF OFFICERS   Same slate as this year.  Will be looking for new blood next year.  Our meetings are usually via phone conference call.  Members can join in and are encouraged to do so – contact Tom for details.

COMPETITION   High spring and fall water cancelled several races and the Des Plaines Marathon suggested paddlers not comfortable in higher, faster water take a refund.  With 4 races, a person had to race 3 in one class.

Joe Crnkovich (a racing rookie) won the kayak class  (39 out of 40 points)

Luke and Ben Josefik

Luke Josefik pulled his dad Ben down the river to win the Adult/Youth (39 out of 40 points)

Pat Faul and Steve Conlon won all their races in the Standard class

Nice going!

Joe Crnkovich


The presenter, Charlie Zine, took the challenge of paddling the length of the Fox River in one 8-day stretch. Traveling light (smallest possible sleeping shelters you ever saw), they showed pictures of where they camped, what they saw, and the river and dams they encountered.


  • Dams – There are 13 dams in Illinois that had be portaged and a few more in Wisconsin
  • Camping – Most of the land along the Fox, especially in Illinois, is private property.  There are a lack of campgrounds (they used guerrilla camping with permission.


  • They completed their challenge successfully.
  • Scenery
  • People

Way to go!


Thank you all who have renewed your membership in IPC for 2020.  We greatly appreciate your support. If you have NOT renewed your membership, you can do so by going on www.illinoispaddling.org/membership and use PayPal or send your renewal check to:

IPC Treasurer c/o Don Mueggenborg

9 E Peiffer Dr., Lemont, IL 60439

We also would love to get your suggestions on how to improve our organization and programs. If you can contribute with an article to our newsletter, attend our bimonthly meetings (you can do so via phone), participate in some of the events we are asked to staff a booth and provide information about paddle sport……if you enjoy paddling – give something back by getting involved with IPC. Thank you.


The Show Guide is now available online – so you can plan your visit and lectures early. Check here

https://www.paddlers.com/canoecopia/showguide.asp?r=1  and please – if you go, give IPC a few hours to help staff the table and answer the many questions – most importantly – where to go paddling?  To help answer that question, see:

Be sure to watch the three-minute introductory video to discover interactive maps, Faddling and access information, and local managers for 1,896 unique sections of rivers in the tinited States. Click on the llnk by state and pull up ten pages of river sections you can paddle in lllinois. A superb effofi by the River Management Society.

Enhancing the Lake Michigan Water Trail from North Chicago to the Wisconsin border – Your Input is Needed!

Openlands has partnered with the IDNR’s Coastal Management Program (CMP) and the municipalities of North Chicago, Beach Park, Waukegan, Winthrop Harbor, and Zion to create a plan to expand and enhance the Lake Michigan Water Trail; specifically, the 10 mile section from North Chicago to the Wisconsin border. The goal is to connect local communities and visitors to Lake Michigan through programming and trail-improvement. We believe this will result in a well-used water trail that brings quality of life, economic, and stewardship benefits to the adjacent communities.

To realize benefits of enhancing the trail, we are in the process of prioritizing projects that will help make the trail safe, equitable, and thriving.

By safe we mean the trail will have ample information to allow citizens to make educated decisions about where and when to paddle. Training and guided trips will allow paddlers of all skill levels to experience the trail.

By equitable we mean a water trail that is accessible to children and adults of diverse backgrounds, skill levels and abilities and creates paddling opportunities for adjacent communities, even those without their own equipment.

By thriving we mean a well-used trail that inspires active stewardship, allowing ecosystems to flourish and that draws visitors, strengthening local economies.

With funding from CMP and REI, we have held 5 local paddling events, organized several planning meetings with local governments, businesses, and community leaders, and conducted a survey of paddlers that attended local events.

As we continue making this Lake Michigan Water Trail a reality, we would love to have your input at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/832G7ZP

For more information, please contact paddle@openlands.org.


It’s remarkable to think about how far we’ve come since the first “Chicago River Rescue Day” in 1992. That day, Friends hosted a small, feisty group of 25 dedicated volunteers who wanted to rescue the river by pulling shopping carts, mattresses, and plastic bags from its banks. Twenty-five years and more than 60,000 volunteers later, the Chicago River system is no longer a forgotten wildlife corridor filled with sewage and trash. Today the river system is vibrant, accessible, and alive with people, 70 species of fish, countless species of birds, and many native animals including beavers, mink, and turtles. https://www.chicagoriver.org/get-involved/volunteer/chicago-river-eco-warriors-crew