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Ship and Sanitary Canal
(Cook, DuPage, Will Counties, Illinois, U.S.A.)
We are not responsible for errors or omissions.
When boating, regardless of water depth, wear a PFD!

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers River Navigation Maps

New 1998 navigation maps are available at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Navigation Information Connection (NIC) web site.

Basically, this canal has a minimum depth of 21 feet. I've contacted the Army Corps of Engineers and received permission to post charts from their Illinois Waterways Book but now that they have them online, I see no reason to duplicate the effort. Aside from the main link to their charts above, we have linked to a few specific charts below that show the boat ramps so you don't have to search for them thru each chart.

There were two factors that drove the construction of the canal. One was Chicago's sewage problem, the other, was that Illinois was beginning to loose shipping business at an alarming rate.

The I&M Canal was too small for the newer barges (A type J barge is 200 feet long and 35 feet wide, a lock on the I&M Canal was only 110 feet long, the locks on the current Illinois Waterway are as wide as the I&M canal locks were long). It was decided that a deepwater channel would eliminate once and for all the Chicago River flowing into Lake Michigan. At the same time, having a deepwater channel was believed would lure traffic away from the Ohio Valley. It was believed that companies running lake freighters would lower costs by not having to unload at the lakefront and sail right down the river to inland terminals where they would be unload (thus eliminating double loading/ unloading). However, river travel is slow, and lake freighters are expensive and use larger crews than barges. It was soon discovered that companies had no intention of operating deepwater ships in the rivers. Hence, the Ship and Sanitary canal is the end of the deepwater waterway in Illinois. Beyond the Lockport Lock, the water is maintained at 9 feet deep in the shipping lane.

Foot access is available at Harlem Avenue, Follow sign at the Stevenson expressway entrance to Canal Bank Road. Follow road down ramp, then turn left and travel east under Harlem. There is a small open area leading to the banks of the canal between several terminals. I'm not sure if it's legal to fish/boat from this location, but from my trip down it, it appears to be public property. I stopped and talked with a police officer who was parked down there and he told me that there was a public boat launch in Summit. (I've been told that this launch is now fenced off and closed)

Boating information:

Fish in the canal include:

Other information:

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