Forest Preserve District of Cook County, Illinois
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Our River
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 canoe.

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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