Chris Lynch

Episode 6: Mississippi by Canoe

“Unquestionably the discovery of the Mississippi is a datable fact which considerably mellows and modifies the shiny newness of our country, and gives her a most respectable outside-aspect of rustiness and antiquity.” — Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi

For the new country of the United States, the river that bisected it was old. This mighty river shaped the destiny of the towns and cities along its many miles of shoreline. Chicago was just a backwater to St. Louis, Missouri and Galena, Illinois before the railroads began to dominate transportation and Chicago’s rapid rise to prominence.

Our esteemed guest Paul Meincke took full measure of this river on an epic 70-day journey and joins the Windy City Historians in a special episode of our “Canoe Chronicles” to share some history and present reality of the “Mighty” Mississippi. In 2017, Paul, with friends Bill Baar, Tim Clark, and Tom Lobacz, started this adventure at the river’s headwaters in Minnesota and canoed some 2,320 miles to Gulf of Mexico. Captured in the documentary ”Mississippi by Canoe” on YouTube, Paul will tells of the trip’s challenges, triumphs, and insights and offers some behind the scenes in the making of the documentary. We hope you will enjoy this lively tale of paddling, politics, and history sprinkled with legends, mosquitoes, alligators, and how life is better when experienced by canoe, even 950,000 paddle strokes later.

Paul Meincke is “mostly” retired after 30-years of general assignment reporting for ABC7 Eyewitness News in Chicago, and ironically Paul’s celebrated 45-year broadcast career began on the banks of the Mississippi River in his hometown, Rock Island, Illinois. It was a real pleasure to met and talk with him.

Links to Research and History Documents

Episode 2: The Place Called Chicagoua

Released Friday, April 26th, 2019 – Listening to the first episode you learn the ground-breaking, new story of Chicago’s discovery and who truly was the first European to pass through Chicago.  In the second part of this two-part interview with historian John Swenson, he explains, “if you know where the portage is, the Marquette tells you where he was,” and that is place the Indians called “Chicagoua,” which has nothing to do with today’s city limits.  And by adding Henri Joutel’s (La Salle’s chronicler) account of this area he confirms where this place is and reveals an ancient Indian mound.

The second of a three part series of the Windy City Historian’s interview with retired attorney and historian John Swenson which will make Chicago history.  You will hear where the place “Chicagoua” was that was created nearly a thousand years ago and that it still exists today, hiding in plain sight in a Chicago suburb.

PREVIEW OF EPISODE II : The Place Called Chicagoua

Links to Research and History Documents

In the second Episode – The Place Called Chicagoua we continue our interview with retired lawyer and historian John Swenson about the place the Indians called Chicagoua. Below are links to historic items we discussed and some additional relevant research for those interested in a deeper dive into the history.

  • Franquelin Map of Louisiana of 1684
    • There are several terms on the Franquelin map are helpful to know:
      • Chicagoumeaman – refers to the northern portage route of today’s Chicago River to Mud Lake (or Oak Point Lake) to the Des Plains River and the literal translation from Kaskaskian (an Algonquin dialect) is “false Chicago” for Native Americans this river was not the way to Chicagoua.
      • Shiskikmoaskiki – refers to the Des Plains River and the literal translation from Kaskaskian (an Algonquin dialect) is the “pissing tree” referring to the swamp maples that were native to the banks of this river that could be tapped to make maple syrup.
      • Makaregemou – refers to the Calumet and Little Calumet Rivers and the literal translation from Kaskaskian (an Algonquin dialect) is “crooked river” due to its meandering course and many tributaries.
  • Marquette’s Journal in the Jesuit Relations
  • Henri Joutel’s Account – A Journal of the Last Voyage Perform’d by Monfr. de la Salle, written in French by Monsieur Joutel, first translation by Melville B. Anderson 1896
  • See our website page for Episode 1 – Who Was First? for additional links and historic references and new maps Windy City Historians commissioned of the northern and southern portage routes. (These maps are copyrighted for use or republishing please contact

Episode 1: Who Was First?

Released Friday, March 29, 2019 – On the 344 Anniversary of Father Marquette getting flooded out of his winter camp in 1675, at the place the Indians called Chicaogua.

In real estate it’s all about “Location, Location, Location.”  So what happens if our Chicago isn’t really in Chicago? Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet explored a land that Native Americans called “Chicagoua” in 1673 and left clues to where this place can be found. It took historian John Swenson over three decades to unravel the mystery of the location of Chicago, and the evidence he found – remarkably – calls into question the story told by most 19th century historians.

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