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cherry, and many of the species produced on the bottoms. In some parts of this State yellow poplar prevails, principally in the south, interspersed with occasional clumps of beech. Near the Ohio, on low creek bottoms, the deciduous cypress is found.
No poplar is found on the eastern borders of the State till near Palestine, while on the opposite shore of the Wabash, in Indiana, poplar and beech predominate. Occasional clumps of stunted cedar are to be seen on the cliffs that overhang the bottoms along the Illinois river north of Peoria; but no pines have come to our knowledge that are natives of Illinois.
Timber not only grows more rapidly than in other States, but decays sooner when put into buildings, fences, or is in any way exposed to the weather. It is more porous, and will shrink and expand, as the weather becomes wet or dry, to a greater extent than the slow growing timbers of other States. From the above it will be perceived that Illinois does not labor under the great inconveniences for timber that many have supposed. Our excellent and numerous facilities for transportation assure us us that the future will be better provided for than the past. Timber may be artificially produced, with but little trouble or expense, to an indefinite extent.
The black locust, a native growth of Ohio and Kentucky, may be raised from the seed with far less trouble than a nursery of apple trees, and as it is of very rapid growth, a lasting timber for fencing, buildings and boats, it must claim the attention of farmers. Already it forms one of the cleanliest and most beautiful shades, and when in bloom presents a rich prospect, and sheds a most delicious fragrance.
THE ILLINOIS RIVER AND ITS TRIBUTARIES.
The Illinois river, which gives name to the State, may be considered the most important, whose whole course lies within the limits of the State, and whose waters lave the western line of Mason county. It is formed by the junction of the Kankakee and the Desplaines rivers, near the towns of Dresden and Kankakee. Thence it curves nearly to a west course, until a short distance above Hennepin. Here it curves to the south, and then to the southwest. Passing the beautiful and flourishing cities of Peoria, Pekin, Havana and Beardstown, it reaches Naples. Hence to its mouth its course is nearly due south. It enters the Mississippi
twenty miles above the mouth of the Missouri, and at that point is four hundred feet above the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. From Havana to the mouth there is fifteen feet fall, and from Peoria to Havana four feet eleven inches. At high floods this river overflows its banks and covers the bottoms for a considerable extent, The Mississippi, at extreme high water, backs the water seventy miles up the Illinois. The commerce of the Illinois river is very extensive, and increases with a rapidity only known to the rich agricultural regions of the western states. Several steamboats are constantly employed in the Illinois river trade, and others make occasional trips. At as early a date as 1836, thirty-five different steamboats passed and landed at Havana, and the total arrivals and departures for the season were four hundred and fifty. The year 1828 was the beginning of steam navigation on the Illinois river. Forty miles below the junction of the Kankakee and Desplaines rivers the Illinois receives the Fox river from the north. Both above and below the mouth of this river there is a succession of rapids in the Illinois, with intervals of deep and smooth water. From the mouth of Fox river to the foot of the rapids is nine miles, the descent in all eight feet, the rocks of soft sandstone mixed with gravel and shelly limestone. Nine miles above Fox river the rapids begin, and extend ten or twelve miles. They are formed by ledges of rocks in the river, and rocky islands. The whole descent from the surface of Lake Michigan, at Chicago, to the foot of the rapids, a distance of ninety-four and one-fourth miles, is one hundred and forty-one feet and ten inches.
At the foot of the rapids the Vermilion river enters the Illinois from the south, by a mouth about fifty yards wide. It is an excellent mill stream, and runs through extensive beds of bituminous coal. Sixty miles down the Illinois from the termination of the rapids, commences Peoria Lake, an expansion of the river, and about twenty miles in length by an average of two wide. Such is the depth and the regularity of the bottom, that it has no perceptible current. Its waters are very transparent, its margin exhibits beautiful scenery, and its surface is spotted with innumerable flocks of pelicans, swan, geese and ducks. It also abounds in all the varieties of fish, in bountiful supply, usually found in the western waters. A few miles below Peoria lake the Mackinaw river comes into the Illinois on the east side, from the south. It is about one hundred miles in length, and was formerly boatable for a considerable dis
tance. It rises in the prairie in the eastern part of McLean county, and, running southwest through Tazewell county, enters the Illinois about three miles below Pekin. The next stream entering the Illinois river is Quiver creek, from the east, a short distance above the city of Havana. An inconsiderable stream, but on whose banks are situated two fine mills, and along its shores lie some of the finest farms in the State of Illinois. The stream is abundantly stocked with fish. Twenty-five miles below the mouth of Mackinaw, and directly opposite the city of Havana, Spoon river-classic stream of many historical associations—enters the Illinois from the west. It is a beautiful stream, the most considerable of those which water the military tract. It was once navigable for a short distance. Its length is about one hundred and forty miles.
About eight miles above Beardstown the Sangamon enters the Illinois from the east. It is one of the most prominent branches of the Illinois, and forms the southeastern boundary of Mason county. It is one hundred and eighty miles in length, and has been, in seasons of high water, traversed with small steamers a long distance from its mouth. From its position and excellence of its lands, it is one of the most important streams in the State. Along its banks are some of the best grass and stock farms in Illinois. Crooked creek, next to Spoon river, is the most considerable stream that waters the military tract. From its volume and length it deserves the name of river, but it is mostly designated by the inferior title. It enters the Illinois from the west, a few miles below Beardstown, and is about one hundred miles in length. Below Crooked creek, and on the east side of the river, are Indian creek, Mauvaisterre creek, and Sandy creek, in Morgan county, and Apple and Macoupin creeks, in Green county. All these are beautiful streams, and meander through some of the best populated and most fertile regions of country of the garden State. McKee's creek, emptying on the west side, is the lowest of the tributaries of the Illinois of any note, from the military tract. The land on this creek and its branches is excellent, and well proportioned in timber and prairie; is gently undulating and rich.
In the Illinois river there are but few bars or obstructions to navigation until we reach Starved Rock, about one mile above the town of Utica. Here we meet the first permanent obstruction, being a ledge of sandstone rock immediately at the foot of the
rapids, and extending entirely across the bed of the river. This point is two hundred and ten miles from its mouth by the course of the river. The town of Utica may properly be called the head of navigation, though steamers have gone to Ottawa, nine miles further. For a great distance above its mouth the river is almost straight as a canal, and during low water in summer has scarcely any perceptible current, and the water is quite transparent. The river is wide and deep, and enters the Mississippi by a mouth four hundred yards wide. No river in the western country is so fine for the purposes of navigation as the Illinois, or flows through so rich and fertile a region of country. On the banks of this noble stream the first French emigrants from Canada settled, and here was the scenery on which they founded their extravagant panegyrics on the western country.
By the Chicago and Illinois canal the waters of the Illinois river are united to those of Lake Michigan, and form one of the most important links in the chain of internal navigable waters of the United States. Nature performed a great share in the accomplishment of this grand improvement. The canal distance from the lake to its intersection with the river is one hundred miles. The navigation of the Illinois river was an indispensable necessity to the early settlers as a means of access and egress, and for the shipment of their immense superfluous crops.
THE SANGAMON RIVER AND ITS TRIBUTARIES.
The Sangamon river forms the southeast boundary of Mason county, and is one of the most important tributaries of the Illinois. It enters that river about one hundred miles above its mouth, and ten miles above Beardstown. It rises in Vermilion county, and heads with the Mackinaw, the Vermilion, the Big Vermilion, and other streams. Its length is about one hundred and eighty miles, and is navigable for small steamboats when waters are high, and before the stream was crossed by numerous railroad bridges, to the junction of the north and south forks, a distance from the Illinois of about seventy-five miles. In the spring of 1832 a steamboat of the larger class arrived within five miles of Springfield, and discharged its cargo. In 1837 arrangements were made for running a small class of steamboats from the towns on the Illinois to Petersburg, on the left bank of the Sangamon, and forty-five miles from its mouth. All the streams that enter this river have sandy or pebbly bottoms, clear and transparent waters. The Sangamon bottoms have a soil of extraordinary fertility, and rear from their rich, black, mould forests of enormous sycamore and elms, and other forest trees; huge overgrown masses, and towering high heavenward.
The Sangamon and its branches flow through the richest and most delightful regions of the great west. The beautiful and fertile prairies on its banks afford range and rich pasturage for thousands of cattle. The general aspect of the country drained by the Sangamon and its branches is level, yet it is sufficiently undulating to permit the water to escape to the creeks. It now constitutes one of the richest grazing and agricultural districts in the State, or the United States, the soil being of such nature that immense crops are raised with comparatively little agricultural labor. The railroads traversing this region to the great markets of the west and east, here receive their long trains of cattle, hogs, corn, wheat and rye.
The principal branches of the Sangamon are the South Fork and Salt creek. The latter being most identified with Mason county, is about ninety miles long, and heads near the main stream of the Sangamon, and receives in its course several unimportant tributaries. The same that was said of the Sangamon will apply to the country bordering on Salt creek, without the slightest diminution.
PRODUCTIONS OF THE SOIL, That region of Central Illinois—the WESTERN EMPIRE STATEof which Mason county forms no inconsiderable part, having a vast extent of most fertile lands, must, of course, raise with greatest ease all the articles to which her soil and climate are favorable, to an amount far beyond her consumption.
All the grains, fruits and vegetables of the temperate regions of the earth here grow most luxuriently. The wheat is of an excel. lent quality, and there is no part of the western continent where corn is grown with greater ease and abundance, nor of equal quality. In the great corn markets of the country, Chicago and Boston, “Mason county yellow" is a standard quotation, and at higher rates than any other in those markets. When the frosts nip the corn on lower and less favored soils, we find men from almost every part of our great State sending to Central Illinois, and to Mason county especially, for their seed corn. When the millers of