Illinois

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 4: La Salle and the Voyageurs

The name La Salle is ubiquitous throughout the United States, with streets, parks, towns, universities, parishes, schools and even counties named for this French explorer. In this episode, “La Salle and the Voyageurs”, we examine the influence of La Salle, as well as interview Reid Lewis, the founder of a 1976-77 reenactment of La Salle’s second expedition journeying from Montreal to the Gulf of Mexico.  Rich Gross, a member of the crew tells us what it was like to canoe for 3,300 miles as an 18 year-old student, and we talk with Lorraine Boissoneault, the author of “The Last Voyageurs” about La Salle and this re-enactment of his voyage.

René Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle is a larger then life figure, and so one cannot devote just one episode to him; this is the first of a two-part podcast on this giant of French and American history, who along with Jacque Marquette and Louis Jolliet, is in the Pantheon of French explorers who opened up the frontier of North America and traveled extensively on in the Great Lakes region

Links to Research and History Documents

Episode 3: Urbs in Horto?

Released Friday, May 31, 2019 – What’s in a name? “Urbs in Horto” or as translated from Latin “City in the Garden” is the motto on the seal of the City of Chicago, which nicely ties together the third interview with historian and retired attorney John Swenson. Swenson presents the final and most amazing piece of early Chicago history revealing the details of this ancient place called Chicagoua and the platform mound two-leagues from the Chicagoua Portage, the area’s earliest known civic and cultural center some 40 miles from today’s downtown Chicago!

We visit the mound, twice, and interview Adler Planetarium Astronomer Mark Hammergren regarding the astronomical significance of the mound, and learn some fascinating insights into Chicago’s ancient culture and peoples. This brand-new history and discovery grew out of Swenson’s passion for horticulture, history, and etymology. His initial dig into Chicago’s origin story and the wild allium the city was named for has grown into an entirely new landscape for Chicago history, the City in the Garden and hence the name of our third Episode: “Urbs in Horto?”

PREVIEW OF EPISODE 3: Urbs in Horto?