Stepping onto the 1840s replica canal boat, Volunteer, we were transported back in time. This boat is configured just for passengers but the original canal boats were ladened with anything which needed to be delivered.
As we approached the boat, the mule tender introduced us to Joe, one of the two mules used for pulling. The other mule, Moe, was resting in the barn.
This sunny day which produced dancing shadows on a lazy canal was perfect for a step back in time and a ride on a mule-pulled boat. The trip on the I&M Canal was a mile up and back and lasted about an hour. Definitely remembering a slower time of life.
The crew, dressed in period clothes, played the part yelling, “All aboard!” The lines were cast off and Joe began to tow the Volunteer up the canal to the Little Vermillion aqueduct. While the deckhand shifted the tow rope from the front to the back of the boat, Joe rested and munched on grass. Once the line was secured we began our journey down the canal and back to the dock.
Hand dug in 1848, the 96 mile I&M Canal connected Chicago to LaSalle-Peru. Today a bike path follows the original tow path from LaSalle 58 miles north. The canal ceased operation in 1933 but lives on with Joe and Moe pulling the Volunteer.