Nature Bulletin No. 22 July 7, 1945
Forest Preserve District of Cook County
Clayton F. Smith, President
Roberts Mann, Superintendent of Conservation
The people of Cook County are missing a bet. They are not using their
DesPlaines River. The other day we took a boat trip down that river
from Lake County to Lawndale Avenue in Summit. It being a week day,
we saw few people other than an occasional fisherman or pairs of
strolling boys. Except for a bridge now and then, there were no signs or
sounds of civilization. Chicago might have been a thousand miles away.
We rested. There was isolation. There was peace.
Once in a while a heron flew ahead of us; or a squirrel scampered up a
tree; once we saw a family of young muskrats playing around the
entrance to their den in the bank; twice we saw and heard a wood duck;
again and again big fish plowed ripples surging ahead of us. It was
shady and cool and still beneath the arching trees. We thought of the
centuries this river had traveled. We were babes nuzzling again at the
breast of Mother Nature.
Sure there were breaks and hazards. Driftwood jams against the piers of
a bridge, or where a huge tree had fallen athwart the channel. A few
man-made dams to be portaged. Some shallow, boulder-strewn
stretches where the boats must be poled or dragged. We wished for a
Mostly the bottom was clean and hard. The water looked and smelled
like "good" water in spite of a few vomits of foul pollution. Some day
the pollution will be ended. Some day a series of low dams will drown
all shallow stretches. Men die. They can defile and divert, but they
cannot destroy a river.
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Update: June 2012