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    Illinois drainage
    From: George Huxtable
    Date: 2005 Nov 21, 11:09 -0000

    To be honest, this isn't really a question about navigation, but about
    geography and hydraulics. But some Nav-l contributors hail from the Illinois
    area, so perhaps know the answer.
    I've been reading an odd book, published in 1911, The Log of the "Easy Way".
    This is about the voyage of a young couple, in 1900-01, in a house-boat or
    "shanty-boat", drifting down the Mississippee to New Orleans. The journey
    started in Chicago, with a tow through the "Old Canal", which presumably was
    later enlarged into the present Ship Canal. Then down the Illinois River to
    the Miss.
    The book took my interest as it took in the same stretch of the Miss.,
    between St Louis and Cairo, as had been used by Lewis and Clark, a century
    before, to reach their official setoff point.
    I'm aware of (and have always been rather puzzled by) how close the drainage
    of the Miss. basin comes to the Great Lakes, West of Chicago, but have
    presumed there's a narrow watershed, close West and South of Lake Michigan,
    which prevents that lake from spilling over to end up at New Orleans.
    And yet, in this book, the author, having reached the Illinois River,
    comments after passing La Salle / Peru, that "Its water may come from the
    cold, clear depths of Lake Michigan but ... ".  Surely not, I surmise. If
    that had ever been the case, the watercourse would have eroded over the
    millennia to become, by now, a torrent. Is it even hydraulically possible,
    even if the ground West of Lake Michigan is permeable to underground flow?
    That would require the water level in the upper Illinois to be lower, with
    respect to sea-level, than is Lake Michigan, at 580 feet? Is that the case?
    Presumably, there's a dividing line somewhere, on one side of which, if you
    pee on the ground, it will end up in the St. Lawrence, and on the other
    side, in the Gulf of Mexico. How far do you have to travel from Lake
    Michigan, to reach that line? It's not an important matter, but it interests

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