Perhaps one day in the not-too-distant future, visitors will be able to board a tour boat on the Hennepin Canal near Geneseo and travel to Rock Falls.
Members of the Friends of the Hennepin?Canal have created Renaissance Hennepin Canal, a project aimed at restoring three locks on the canal to enable pleasure boats to cruise the canal.
Sponsored by private donations, the firms of KJWW Engineering Consultants of Rock Island and Johnson-Lasky Architects of Chicago have been hired by the non-profit organization to conduct a survey on the renovation and repair of Locks 22, 23 and 24.
The survey will include hiring divers to explore the bottom of the canal locks and gates.
Original blueprints show that inside the canal locks, on the bottom, were laid large wooden timber structures.
The canal opened in 1907 to barge traffic but was closed by the U.S. Army Crops of Engineers in 1951. The 104-mile canal is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Today, the canal is owned by the State of Illinois. Because the state does not have funds to repair and renovate the locks, private funds will be needed.
The three locks represent a small portion of the 29 locks on the canal, but encompass a 50-mile stretch between Sterling/Rock Falls and Geneseo.
Renovating each lock could cost between $350,000 and $650,000 per lock.
According to Carolyn Andrews and Walker Johnson of Johnson-Lasky Architects, final results of the survey should be released the first week of December.
For more information on the project, visit www.friends-hennepin-canal.org.